There’s something unnerving about worship in Blasphemous 2. In this side-scrolling soulslike from The Game Kitchen, holy masses adorn The Miracle: an all-powerful, unknowable deity capable of dishing out inscrutable blessings and cruel mutations in equal measure. The same folk praising The Miracle are often those who have suffered most from its divine will, and it’s hard to say whether that worship is driven by love, terror, or both.
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When your character, The Pentinent One, learns that The Miracle is prophesied to give birth, they drag themselves out of a coffin and journey to cut their unholy maternity leave short. From our hour-long hands-on with Blasphemous 2, neatly summarising the story is difficult — it’s comparable to Elden Ring, Dark Souls or Hollow Knight; where lore is largely theory-crafted from in-game myths, dialogue, and load-bearing item descriptions.
Thankfully, the rest of this sequel is much easier to explain. A 2D side-scroller that follows Dark Souls‘ philosophy of killing players often, The Pentinent One is woefully fragile — meaning that progress is measured by close calls with monsters, spike traps, and challenging platforming sequences. This will all sound familiar to metroidvania fans, but Blasphemous 2 diverts from the formula by offering players a choice of three weapons at the beginning of the game, which influence not only your combat style, but the pathways you can explore. I chose the sword for my hands-on — which wasn’t as flashy as the hefty flail or lightning-fast dual blades — but offered a comfortable, satisfying balance between the two.
Whichever weapon you choose, it soon comes in handy — combat is Blasphemous 2‘s bread and butter, but it has a clear and signposted cadence that’s surprisingly welcoming to genre newcomers. While the opening hour’s enemies have limited movesets and generous gaps between attacks, confusing simplicity for weakness is a mistake — even the feeblest of foes are capable of killing you in seconds. Likewise, the game’s first boss is a spike-flinging bastard that fights with telltale routine, but stepping outside of that rhythm for a millisecond — perhaps chancing an extra attack, or taking too long to dodge — is punished brutally, which is where the real difficulty comes into play.
As Blasphemous 2‘s combat emphasises the importance of precision, so too does its platforming mechanics. To progress through my hands-on, a number of timed challenges demanded I sweep from one corner of a room to the next, leaping over traps and baddies to reach a fast-closing door. Like combat, every second is cruelly measured — marginally whiffing one jump is enough to demand another run at the gauntlet, a callback to old-school platformers where a good jumping puzzle could give the toughest miniboss a run for its money.
However, Blasphemous 2‘s greatest draw is its phenomenal world-building and art direction. The Game Kitchen is based in the Spanish city of Seville, and the studio’s surroundings bleed into every pixel — Roman Catholic architecture is scaled to impossible sizes, grossly grandiose, and every cobbled street aches with age. Blasphemous 2 isolates the supernatural mythos of Catholicism, the alien and unknowable, and builds an entire world from it — one that thrives in its mystery and feels like a sure win for fans of FromSoftware‘s inscrutable storytelling.
It would be easy to label the rest of Blasphemous 2 in this fashion: a promising, worthwhile trip for anyone who’s already riding the soulslike-metroidvania wave. Yet Blasphemous 2‘s real hooks — its fascinating setting, and combat that values precision over reaction speed — suggest The Game Kitchen’s ambitious sequel may create an all-new audience of masochists when it launches this year.