BLASPHEMOUS / DEVELOPER: THE GAME KITCHEN / PUBLISHER: TEAM 17 / PLATFORM: PC, PS4, SWITCH, XBOX ONE (REVIEWED) / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Set in the cursed land of Cvstodia, Blasphemous is a 2D retro-inspired action platformer that casts players as the Penitent One, the only person capable of breaking the endless cycle of life and death. With a gory story based around Spanish folklore, religion and twisted bloodthirsty monsters, this is very much one for the grown-ups...
Blasphemous doesn't shy away from its inspirations, with gameplay and visuals containing more than a few nods to Dark Souls and Castlevania. Cvstodia's environments and enemies could quite easily be 2D versions of Lordran or Drangleic and its inhabitants, and Blasphemous also shares the Souls games' considered approach to combat. You could try to wade into enemies and slash away with your sword, but you're likely to find yourself overwhelmed – you'll need to pay attention to their movements and attack at the right time if you're hoping to have any chance of success.
Taking some cues from the various 'Vania titles, Cvstodia is mostly an open world made up of distinct areas that can be visited in any order, although you may find yourself unable to access certain parts until your character has levelled up a bit. It's also quite possible that you'll encounter enemies that you're not yet able to take down, but the option is there for exploring other areas and learning some new abilities before coming back for another try.
There are tons of items and collectibles that will help your quest – rosary beads boost your stats, Prayers act like interchangeable magic attacks, Relics alter the world around you (useful for gaining access to unreachable areas), Tears of Atonement earned by defeating enemies can be spent on new combat techniques, and there's plenty of lore that fill in the wider story.
On top of the satisfying gameplay, Blasphemous also looks tremendous. Its super-detailed pixel art feels like something out of an early / mid-90s PC game, and the slightly under-animated movements of the Penitent One and his enemies adds to the old-school vibe.
Blasphemous might not break too much new ground in the gameplay stakes, but it's an incredibly solid action platformer with an awesome and sometimes unsettling atmosphere that elevate the overall experience to something way beyond what it might otherwise have been. A definite future cult classic.