The latest attempt to create a 2D version of Dark Souls results in one of the most atmospheric and disturbing games of the year.
It really is hard to fathom the logic in video game age ratings sometimes. When Lego games are given a 7 for depictions of violence but the ultra gory Hotline Miami is only a 16 youve got to wonder what the point of it all is. It must be something to do with pixel graphics as Blasphemous is filled with some outrageous depictions of violence, even if theyre not exactly photorealistic, and yet also only gets a 16. But more than just the gore theres a sickly sense of depravity and wrongness in the game… which is its most impressive achievement.
One of the opening scenes of Blasphemous involves you defeating a boss character then filling your giant pointy metal mask with blood from its wounds and immediately putting it back on. Incredibly though, this is only the second most weird and disturbing thing to happen in the games opening five minutes.
Things do calm down slightly after that but the backdrop of Blasphemous is of a cursed world populated by grotesque monsters and where the few remaining humans are obsessed with suffering and penitence. The game avoids any direct Christian references but its unsurprising to find that developer The Game Kitchen are Spanish, because its obvious the whole thing is inspired by the horrors of the Inquisition.
Whats also obvious is that the game is heavily influenced by Dark Souls, despite being purely 2D. The obscure storytelling is very similar, only offering hints as to whats going on and hiding most of the details behind obscure lore and poetic descriptions. As in FromSoftwares games, all you really need to know is that you are The Penitent One and its down to you reverse The Miracle that has cursed the land.
Blasphemous core gameplay works similarly to many other action platformers and Metroidvanias. At least at first, its not as hellishly difficult as the Dark Souls comparisons suggest and there is a very satisfying dodge move which is key to survival, as you slip behind an enemy just as they attack. More moves and abilities are unlocked as you progress, including an equally satisfying parry, with each enemy having their own unique tells that clue you in on when and how to attack.
This is doubly true of the numerous boss battles which, in the grand tradition of FromSoftware, all seem absolutely impossible right up until the point where you beat them. Despite the 2D visuals theres an impressive variety to them all, as they range from giant blindfolded babies to grotesque giants that stand in the background and fire Contra style laser beams.
As in Dark Souls, there are bonfire-like save points which will restore minor enemies to life as well as refill your health potions. You arent collecting souls as you explore but upon death your special bar, used for a variety of magic attacks, will be cut short until you find the point at which you died and relieve yourself of the guilt.
There have been a number of attempts to create a 2D Dark Souls over the years, with Salt And Sanctuary still probably the most successful. In some ways Blasphemous follows Froms template more rigidly but importantly its not an action role-playing game. There are no stats or level-grinding, which may please some but essentially means its a Metroidvania in SoulsBorne clothing.
There is a range of collectibles and extra moves to collect but, sadly, Blasphemous combat doesnt evolve all that much through the course of the game. It compensates a little with some decent platforming, but there are few real puzzles – which wouldve been the other obvious direction to expand into. Its a shame, because the level design is very good, filled with secrets and mysteries that youd swear at first were just obscure details and then turn out to be vital for progression.
Blasphemous style of pixel art isnt trying to replicate any specific format, although the various cut scenes did remind us of high-end Amiga games such as Another World and Flashback.Read More – Source