Blasphemous is jank, but not complete blasphemy

(Updated Fri Jun 11 09:10:29 PM UTC 2021)

Lepers everywhere

tldr Ratings

First Time Playing Yup
Play Time 11hrs
100% Completion Nope
Fun 7.2 / 10
Collecting Stuff 8 / 10
Jank 5 / 10

Didn’t finish it. Wasn’t a huge fan to be honest. Okay I take that back. I AM a fan, but probably not in the way the devs wanted. I really wanted to love it, there’s a LOT of great stuff here. But the focus (or lack of) wasn’t vibing with me.

Overview/World Building

It’s just so pretty

So Blasphemous is a metroidvania set in a sort of nightmare-ish holy world. They put a LOT of effort into world-building and style and it totally pays off, even if it’s hard to follow. Okay I’ll get this out of the way, it was hard for me to follow. I appreciate the effort they were going for, but in the end I just couldn’t follow it and I think they went a little too far. This kind of also goes for quests in general, they are written down/logged anywhere that I could find, and I just talked to everyone all the time and sometimes I had the item they wanted, and sometimes I didn’t.

Lore wise, for instance, EVERYTHING has lore, but it’s to the point where I have to read into descriptions to figure out what they actually do/help me. For example:

Incorrupt remains of the Great Pilgrim, founder of the order and comfort to his followers. His feet never stopped, always taking him forward in his mysterious wandering through Cvstodia. The bearer of this relic receives his determination, and walks effortlessly through swamps and muddy marshlands.

Again, I know what they were going for/trying to do, but it takes me a bit too long to go “Oh, it lets me jump out of water regularly, okay cool”. Maybe I’m getting old though, but I had to force myself to read into every description to figure out what did what. Let alone when you’re comparing items to each other. Oh wait, you can’t, you can only look at descriptions of items one at at time. Not great.

Poison Fog hurts

What I did love is the animations throughout the entire game, it is just so goddamn beautiful and a lot of love and effort towards this kind of pixel art style. The game is INCREDIBLY gory but in all the best ways. The music/sound design is also amazing. The music sounds like it’s straight out of Diablo 2 for the most part and creates that kind of dark fantasy/magic atmosphere that is just perfect for the setting.

Balancing is a bit all over the place

This is one of my main gripes with the game. I don’t think it can tell whether it wants the gameplay to be more Castlevania or Dark Souls. For most of the bosses, you can watch their attacks and always hit them and button mash your way through while dodging their attacks, just like Metroidvania bosses, but then there’s some other bosses where you have to parry/dodge them as if it’s a Souls game. No joke, I would kill most bosses on my first try/run through, but then a couple bosses I had to try for hours/don’t let you be greedy with your hits.

Uhh sure why not

Have you ever played an RPG, where you are making a ranger/thief character and put all your points into ranged, but then all of a sudden you’re forced into melee combat and you’re not ready for it at all? It kind of feels like that.

At least in Blasphemous you only have one weapon so it’s still “balanced”, but the game also has no EXP system. So even if you were bad at combat, you can’t grind up your stats for a while and try again. It’s ALL skill based. This is both great and awful depending on how you look at it, and I’m kind of on the fence.

The map is very Souls-like in that once you complete a section, it usually lets you break a wall or hit a switch that makes a shortcut so you don’t have to plow through that section again. My issue with this is that the shortcuts seem a bit too easy and are too short to get to. There was a couple times where I found a shortcut and I thought “oh I guess they intended that section to be difficult” (or maybe I’m a god gamer). I wish they felt a little more rewarding.

Breakin da rules

There were a couple more things I just didn’t like about the design. - This might be just a me thing, but I really didn’t like how it broke the “Metroidvania rule” of having bottomless pits, EXCEPT IT ALSO DOESN’T. There’s an item you can get which lets you traverse down pits safely but not until maybe 70% into the game. - Rules on knockback. For a while I thought that enemies don’t knock you back in the air, cause sometimes they don’t. But that’s just it, SOMETIMES they don’t. It seems semi-random which enemies are able to knock you back and which ones you can plow right through until it happens. “But Adam, you shouldn’t be damage boosting anyways” I hear you say. Well if I had a reason to kill each enemy for XP or something, maybe I would feel inclined, but there is no such system /shrug. - Parrying exists but remembering to use it seemed like a chore. Loved the idea of executions and parrying, but again it kind of bugs me that the game didn’t know if it was a souls game, or a platform game.

Fun bugs I encountered

Clifftop platforming

Final thoughts

Overall I had a lot of complaints obviously, but it’s really fun and the world is amazing to explore, but I don’t think I could play it again. The balancing and design jank was a bit too much for me even though I loved the aesthetic and design of everything. It felt like it was trying to mash too many things together and only some of it stuck.

But then again I’m probably comparing it to SOTN a little too much, my favorite game of all time, so I’m probably biased af.