Blasphemous 2 Review (PS5): Weighed Down by its Sins

Blasphemous 2 Review (PS5): Weighed Down by Its Sins

The Miracle gives. The Miracle takes. But the Miracle still has to be stopped.

The Penitent One’s rest has thus been short lived, as he has been beckoned from beyond the grave to repent once again. The surprise inherent to his first round of penitence was key to the original Blasphemous‘ success, which is not something a second bout can organically have. Blasphemous 2 is a deeper and more well-defined experience, though, in a way that justifies The Game Kitchen’s — as well as the Penitent One’s — return to this world. However, Blasphemous 2’s own sins weigh it all down and keep it from truly ascending over its predecessor.

Blasphemous was a tightly designed experience, yet lacked a sense of direction. It wasn’t quite a search action platformer since it didn’t contain many ability-based gates. It had some soulslike qualities but didn’t have enough depth in its combat to truly warrant the comparison. And even though the Penitent One was an accomplished acrobat, the title’s rudimentary platforming meant it wasn’t quite a platformer, either. Blasphemous was more than the sum of its parts because its parts weren’t too distinct on their own.

Blasphemous 2 Review (PS5): Weighed Down by Its Sins
These structures require different weapons to use.

Blasphemous 2, on the other hand, is firmly a search action platformer and that acquiescence to a more clear-cut genre gives it a stronger structure. The ability gates mean there are more chances to explore the world and backtrack, and The Game Kitchen has scattered various upgrades and collectibles around to make that exploration worthwhile. It’s a well-worn genre and Blasphemous 2 doesn’t add a fresh spin to it, but the ability to find a greater selection of upgrades, collectibles, and secrets gives it more complexity when compared to the original. 

Scouring collapsed cathedrals over and over for more experience points or spells is further enhanced by the astounding artwork. Its vistas do so much with the pixelated aesthetic by providing unique environments full of small details and vast visual splendor. A crusty cave may be packed with all sorts of decrepit corpses, crumbled structures, and bits of environmental storytelling, while also having a massive inverted tower in the background that has leaked enough candle wax to create a big, goopy ramp up to its entrance.

Blasphemous 2 Review (PS5): Weighed Down by its Sins
She gives out some appealing health upgrades.

Not to be outdone by its scenery, Blasphemous 2’s cursed, exaggerated cast that has been grotesquely perverted by the Miracle shows that The Game Kitchen’s knack for eye-catching character designs is still unparalleled, especially in the pixel art space. Much like a Hieronymus Bosch painting, the religious iconography inherent to these sprites lends them a sense of angelic beauty that is delicately balanced out by the horrifying nature of the husks they’ve devolved into.

For example, the giant that enhances the Penitent One’s health flasks is a radiant figure but grows more vile when cherubs start gradually peeling back her skin with each passing upgrade. She’s one of the more evocative designs emblematic of its overall style that blends elegance with obscenity.

Blasphemous 2 Review (PS5): Weighed Down by its Sins
Executions are still grisly and violent.

Many of the beings are meant to be slashed and sliced and not just gawked at. Blasphemous 2’s combat has many more ways to deal with these monstrosities through its larger weapon arsenal and spellbook. Each melee armament also has its own skill tree, special stats, and unique ability, so duels aren’t just simply about dodging and attacking; they’re about picking and fully utilizing the best tools for the job.

The added complexity yields more varied fights and some of the boss encounters are, unlike the relatively easy first game, thrilling tests of skill and pattern recognition, but there are enough control-related inconsistencies to dull the Penitent One’s blade. Getting hit once can lead to getting unfairly juggled and killed after just one or two hits. Thanks to the ever-present existence of enemy contact damage, merely touching an opponent can start one of those annoying kill combos, too. 

Blasphemous 2 also sometimes asks too much of the player without giving them the tools to overcome. Cramped levels and the stunning shortage of invincibility frames in the Penitent One’s slide and air dash are problems independent of one another, but often combine to make it almost impossible to avoid some attacks. Healing is also a tad too slow and isn’t synced to the game’s overall pacing. Like some other titles with soulslike elements, Blasphemous 2’s penchant for deliberate animations clashes with its urge to be more action-oriented. It’s at an awkward middle ground where it’s a touch too clunky to be an action game but too fast to be a true soulslike.

Blasphemous 2 Review (PS5): Weighed Down by its Sins
Why is the Penitent One waking up…?

Some of its soulslike inspirations come in the form of its storytelling that is as indirect as it is complicated. Items hold lengthy descriptions about certain beings or events, characters speak obtusely or in veiled metaphors, and very little is told directly to the player. Putting the pieces together is fitting for the genre label because, as FromSoftware has shown, it’s yet another avenue where players have to earn their spoils.

But while fitting, it’s not handled well. Blasphemous 2, like Oxenfree 2, relies on knowledge of a secret ending of the first game that was patched in after its initial launch and doesn’t provide any sort of recap. It’s confusing out of the gate and doesn’t clear up much past that because of its continued dependence on ambiguity.

Extra characters and events further add to the thick layer of fog obfuscating the narrative and turn it into a puzzle that’s too tedious to solve. The gorgeously animated cutscenes and aforementioned stunning art make it a pleasure to view, but the lack of sense and context sucks most of the meaning out of its narrative. It touches on themes like the overly punishing nature of religion — particularly Catholicism — but its disdain for the fine print makes it all too obtuse to truly resonate. 

Blasphemous 2 Review: The final verdict

Blasphemous 2 is more ambitious than its predecessor with its fleshed-out swordplay and cleaner dedication to the search action genre. And while these additions give Blasphemous 2 more of an identity, they also give it more room to stumble. Said deeper combat is sticky and held back by its dedication to being adjacent to the soulslike genre. Its narrative tries to broaden the game’s world but suffers because of its lack of a solid recap and overreliance on cryptic storytelling. It’s an artistically sublime world but seemingly pays penitence with its uneven gameplay.

  • Striking art style with some stunning vistas and character sprites
  • Being more squarely in the search action platformer genre gives it more depth
  • Combat, while deeper, can be sticky, sluggish, and frustrating
  • Story requires knowledge of the first game's DLC ending and is still a little too obtuse


Disclaimer: This Blasphemous 2 review is based on a PS5 copy provided by the publisher. Reviewed on version 1.002.000.