Blasphemous Review: Penance
Kalvin Martinez / Nov 13th, 2019 No Comments
Life is about seeking forgiveness and atonement. Maybe not exclusively, we do some other stuff, but regret and guilt are extremely human emotions. To err is human, and we need to find a way to make up for and ameliorate these feelings. The Penitent One’s journey is built on the need to atone and seek forgiveness.
Blasphemous feels like a throwback. It takes the precision and challenge of older games, and adds in updated mechanics making sure it doesn’t come like a tribute band. The game is full of mysteries waiting for players to discover them. Once it hooks you, you will find yourself losing hours of your day.
Godspeed, you miracle!
It was a bloody affair that left only one survivor. “The Silent Sorrow” massacre took everyone around him. He awoke in a harsh and unforgiving place populated by twisted creatures and untold dangers. By taking the sword, Mea Culpa from the chest of the bleeding statue he becomes the Penitent One.
After facing a monstrous, lumbering behemoth, the Penitent One meets Deogracis, the narrator of the Grievous Miracle. Deogracias tells him what he seeks is the Cradle of Affliction, which is in the Mother of Mothers church. In order to gain access he’ll need to open the Forbidden Door. To open the door, he must perform the Three Humiliations.
The path forward will be full of trials and hardship. Even if he gets the Forbidden Door open, there are many more challenges before he gets what he wants. His penance is silence and action.
Blasphemous’ story is fascinating because it is cloaked in mystery. Answers are never forthcoming, and much of it is based on inference. It is the mystery that is irresistible, however. You find yourself wanting to know more, what is the Grievous Miracle, and what happened to turn this land into such a hellish landscape?
There are layers to the mysteries as well. Blasphemous is heavy on lore. Each object you gain in your journey has a story. How that relates to the larger mystery is for you to infer and discover. The bizarre side characters you help along you way add to the depth of the lore, and finding the many secrets in the game are so satisfying.
The Penitent One is on a quest for the Grievous Miracle. To reach the Forbidden Doors, he’ll have to repent, show humility, and battle through monstrous foes. Cvstodia is a land twisted by the curse of the Miracle. It is harsh and inhabited by hostile and fearsome creatures.
Cvstodia is a diverse landscape with snowy mountains, swamps, scorched landscapes, and subterranean tunnels. You’ll have to traverse the entirety of Cvstodia to perform the Three Humiliations. This is where the game’s Metroidvania elements come into play. While you can access most of Cvstodia, some areas won’t be available to you until you get the right artifact or ability to open a path.
Like all Metroidvanias discovering the path forward is exciting. However, Blasphemous’ path is fraught with danger. As strong and powerful as the Penitent One’s Mea Culpa sword is, the enemies throughout Cvstodia aren’t afraid to go toe to toe with it. Relying on strength alone is a quick way to die.
It is important to become proficient in dodging and parrying. Enemies hit hard even minor foes. If you can’t dodge or parry well than you’ll find yourself dying and leaving behind fragments of Guilt consistently. Fortunately, parrying is forgiving. It requires good timing, but it isn’t so precise that it becomes punishing. That doesn’t mean the game is any less challenging, but the difficulty comes from more than precision parrying.
Blasphemous challenge comes from the wide variety of enemies you’ll encounter. New foes pop up as you explore new areas of Cvstodia. The variety means you’ll constantly have to learn new attack patterns and ways to defeat these enemies. It becomes super important because they respawn every time you die or save.
If you can’t devise strategies for clearing them out than you’ll easily get overwhelmed and progress will slow down to a crawl. Luckily, enemies respawning isn’t the worst thing because you gain Tears of Atonement for every monster you kill. Tears of Atonement are used to upgrade the Mea Culpa and purchase items from merchants.
Collecting Tears can seem grindy, but ultimately you’re honing your skills as you gather them up. It also helps the Penitent One become strong and gain additional skills that use fervor like the ability to send a rolling shockwave, which in turn makes the enemies a bit easier to deal with. However, don’t ever get too comfortable or cocky because that’s when you’ll be cut down quick.
Combat is harsh, but fair. By employing fast thinking and quick reactions, you will be able to help the Penitent One complete the Three Humiliations and reach the Forbidden Door. Where your combat skills get tested the most are fighting the game’s boss fights.
Boss fights have you face down giant, terrifying creatures that require ever ounce of your skill. These hulking beasts can easily kill you if you’re not careful. What makes these fights so compelling is how dynamic they are. The attack patterns change as they get closer to death.
If you’re not thinking on your toes, you can have them almost beat only to find yourself having to challenge them all over again. The reward for beating the ferocious bosses is a visit with the Visages of Compunction that get you closer to the Forbidden Door.
Blasphemous provides an excellent level of challenge with engaging combat. Its narrative is full of mysteries sucking you in to find out what the Miracle is. Once you start digging into the Penitent One’s journey, it is hard to stop. If you’ve been itching for a fantastic action game than give Blasphemous a spin!
Blasphemous was reviewed on Nintendo Switch with a code provided by the publisher.
tags: Blasphemous , Blasphemous Review , Nintendo Switch , Switch , Team17 , The Game Kitchen