Developed By : The Game Kitchen
Published By : Team17 Digital
Category : Action, Platformer, RPG
Release Date : Sep 10, 2019
Have you ever wanted to question your love for gaming? Do you ever feel like your patience needs to be tested? Ever wanted to play a game that would make you wonder if you had the strength to snap your Nintendo Switch console in half? Do you like a really tough challenge? Luckily, the answer to those questions comes in the form of the brutally tough Blasphemous on the Nintendo Switch. Or, maybe unluckily?
Welcome to the world of Cvstodia, where death and darkness reign supreme. A curse has fallen across the land and the people, and it’s only known as The Miracle. You play as the voiceless Penitent One, the only survivor of this “miracle”. Unable to die, you must face the deepest darkest corners of this new world in the effort to try and save it.
Running over the basics of this game are very reminiscent of a wide-spread series that is known for being extremely tough. One that is known for preying on the souls of it’s players. The game world is your oyster, open for exploration, provided you can keep up with the world itself and the enemies that want to kill you at every step.
When you first wake up, you’ll have nothing more on you than a sword named Mea Culpa and the ability to jump and slide. While you won’t be able to expand your arsenal to additional weapons, you can upgrade the sword later on to give it additional abilities such as longer combos, brutal ground-pounding strikes from the air, and being able to hurl it out in front of you for a ranged attack. These upgrades are performed by locating Mea Culpa shrines, which in addition to granting the possibility of these upgrades, also enhances the base damage and power of the sword itself.
As you explore the world, you’ll discover many Prie Dieu altars at which your Penitent One can pray. By kneeling here, you create for yourself a new save point, where you’ll return to if you die before reaching a new one. Kneeling here also replenishes your health entirely, as well as filling up your health flasks. Initially, you start the game off with only two flasks, called Bile Vessel’s, but you can find empty vessels throughout the world. Once you have one of these empty ones, you’ll need to find a specific location where you’ll need to pay tears to fill your vessels, including the empty one giving you a permanent extra chug for health.
Along with the empty bile vessel’s, there are a vast amount of things that you’ll be able to pick up throughout the world. They all will fall under a few different categories as you find them. Collectibles will be made up of literal bone fragments that you can find, and the purpose they serve is to expand on the lore of the world, giving you details on the person the bone had belonged to before. Prayers act as magic spells, which are used off your Fervor Bar that fills up as you attack enemies. Mea Culpa hearts will modify the sword giving boosts to things like your attack or block. Relics grant you passive abilities, and can help you do things like being able to reveal secret areas. Lastly, you’ll be able to find Rosary Beads, and these provide stat boosts for your character. Initially, you’ll only have two slots available for these, but you can discover Rosary Knots that will let you equip more Beads as you play.
But all of these things make up the vast majority of Blasphemous that can be considered easy. Between finding all these items, and praying at altars, you’ll need to deal with a wide variety of incredibly tough enemies. These guys are all very recognizable and easy to differentiate from one another, but all will find plenty of ways to make sure you get sent back to your last altar instead of finding a new one. Some move fast and will lunge at you when you get close enough, others will move slower but perform devastating attacks once they can hit you, and even others don’t actively go after you, but control things in the game-world that can effect you, such as tipping over large pots of flaming oil to damage and kill you.
However, you’ll be looking forward to spending time with these enemies, and even wanting to invite them over for the holidays once you get to the main attraction of this game : the Boss Fights. These guys are massive, brutal, and will be a test of not only your patience, but your attention to detail and ability to learn their patterns. Complete with a health bar that spans the entire screen, don’t expect these bad boys to go down so easily. Topple them, though, and you’ll progress the games story forward and be that much closer to saving Cvstodia…hopefully.
Despite how I opened this review, Blasphemous is really an amazing game, and that’s a statement I definitely wouldn’t have made if this game fell into my laps six months ago. I always hated games that were excessively challenging, but then I started dipping into the Soulsborne games and learning that once you get to the reward, it is incredibly worth it.
While it’s easy to draw the comparisons to Soulstype games, there were a few differences that set Blasphemous apart on it’s own standing. There’s the limited arsenal, only having the Mea Culpa as a weapon, instead of finding countless others from the enemies and bosses you slay. One difference I was happy to notice is in relation to the mark you leave behind when you die. In the Souls games, it’s a one and done…either make it back to where you died, or die before you do and lose it forever. Here, each mark remains, and even offers a small bit of healing upon collecting it. I’ll be honest, I didn’t fully test this to see if there was a sort of “cap” on how many you could leave behind, but I do know at one point I had four or five scattered around, all of which are marked on the map you can bring up at anytime that details the areas you’ve been to. A map that is itself yet another difference.
Everything about this title is done exceptionally well. The art style is beautiful, and the extremes they take it to in order to fully communicate the darkness of the world, the music, literally every aspect of this game is near perfect. That is, of course, if you like this level of challenge. If you’ve played things of this nature before, it should be pretty easy to get into the rhythm. If you haven’t, to be completely honest the learning curve isn’t incredibly steep for this title, so it wouldn’t be the worst first-step into this pond.
No matter what though, it’s a very tough game to put down, even when it has you questioning if you could break your Switch in two. It’s a world with dozens of stories that you can uncover at your own leisure. Want to fall in deep to Cvstodia, then go find every corner of the world and every person and complete all the optional side quests they can give you, as well as every bone shard and piece of collectible that exists. Don’t care about the lore? Ignore it and stack yourself up against every enemy the game has to offer. Blasphemous truly is a game that becomes what you make it, so make it the next thing you add to your library.