Steeped in religious themes, the narrative of Blasphemous 2 tells of a land unable to overcome the curse placed on it by a higher power, regardless of how repentant its people are. Playing Blasphemous 2, I sometimes felt the same, as I wondered how I could possibly overcome the challenge before me. But like the denizens of The City of the Blessed Name, I persevered. And though the curses being thrown around my house each time I died were of a different variety than those cast in Blasphemous 2’s story, I loved nearly every minute of this challenging Metroidvania journey.
Stepping back into the boots of The Penitent One, the game picks up shortly after the events of the DLC from the first game, but knowledge of that story isn’t necessary to enjoy Blasphemous 2. The lore of Blasphemous runs deep, and you can engage with it as much or as little as you want through item text dumps and cutscenes. However, the bulk of my enjoyment came from exploring the ever-expanding, nonlinear map.
Moving from region to region never ceased to surprise me in all the best ways. Discovering a new NPC who can provide much-needed upgrades to my kit or stumbling upon powerful spells to add to my arsenal were always welcomed, but nothing tops the feeling of figuring out where to go next. Slowly expanding the maze-like map through thoughtful exploration and new traversal abilities became a meditative practice, only interrupted by areas I couldn’t reach with my current moves or by the hordes of grotesque monsters that populate most rooms.
New horrors await in each region, and learning their attack patterns is essential for success. These foes pack a punch, and when they gang up on you or trap you in a corner, it will likely lead to death. Thankfully, Blasphemous 2 gives you smooth and responsive combat to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds. Learning how to slash through enemy types that once troubled you never ceases to satisfy. You can unlock and rotate through three main weapons, each with its own skill tree and traversal abilities, ensuring you have a playstyle that suits you. When combined with various upgrades, spells, and equipable stat boosts, I was happy with the level of customization, even though there’s no proper gear system.
The white-knuckled calculus of whether to counter, dodge, or mount my own offensive in hopes of stunning was common throughout my journey. Though I sometimes dreaded what awaited me in a subsequent room, I always relished the opportunity to show my skills. At times, the difficulty curve feels steeper than it should – a few battle arena rooms tested my patience as much as my skills – and the later checkpoints are a little sparse given how challenging the final sequences are, but it made my eventual victory all the sweeter.
These gauntlets were never more challenging than in the many boss encounters. From a heavily armored knight with projectile slashes to a shape-shifting behemoth that casts various elemental spells, the stiff and diverse challenges you face in boss battles are the ultimate test of your mastery to that point. The knowledge that I was entering a boss arena rarely failed to create a knot in my stomach as I worried about the coming fury, but in retrospect, they stick out as my most memorable moments.
At several points in my lengthy journey through the Gothic delight that is Blasphemous 2, I worried the monstrous foe in front of me would spell an end to my journey. But without these frequent frustrations, the triumphs wouldn’t be as great. Blasphemous 2 takes inspiration from those that came before it, but by intertwining a gorgeous art style, enticing exploration, and rewarding combat, it rises above the horde of Castlevania-inspired action titles.