Blasphemous is a gorgeous pixel-art mix of MetroidVania and Dark Souls, like Hollow Knight, Momodora, or especially Unworthy. It has a lot going for it but is dragged down by problems with its combat and exploration. At a broad level, it's an overall good 15-20 hour quest. However, at a more granular level, Blasphemous fails to understand almost every aspect of MetroidVania and SoulsBlasphemous is a gorgeous pixel-art mix of MetroidVania and Dark Souls, like Hollow Knight, Momodora, or especially Unworthy. It has a lot going for it but is dragged down by problems with its combat and exploration. At a broad level, it's an overall good 15-20 hour quest. However, at a more granular level, Blasphemous fails to understand almost every aspect of MetroidVania and Souls design, which ultimately drags it into mediocrity. I also encountered a few unforgivable game-breaking bugs.
I'll do a pro/con list as it's hard to me to get its problems across without enumerating them:
+ Pixel-Art. Some of the best pixel-art you've ever seen. Watch a trailer
+ Art-Style. The game goes for Spanish and religious themes with its design and is fantastic
+ World Building. The world actually makes a lot of sense and everything fits together logically. Lots of visual variety in the environments
+ Music. Moody, atmospheric, religious music. Castlevania fans apply
+ Large quest. Minimum 15 hours but could be 20+ if you do everything
+ Satisfying, crunchy action combat. i-frame dodging and parrying. Sekiro fans, check it out
- Botched MetroidVania elements. There are only a handful of exploration upgrades and they are entirely missable. Some are obtained through really unintuitive side-quests where you'll likely need a guide. That they're optional means the game is never able to design levels around them either, which is a missed opportunity to make unique levels
- Repetitive level design. Most areas are pretty repetitive and maze-like. It has Dark Souls loop-arounds and each area has unique aspects, but it reuses enemies, obstacles, and backgrounds throughout. They all get stale eventually. The game's structure also repeats itself with two sets of three bosses that need to be killed to move on
- Exploring and Backtracking feels like a waste of time, with very few valuable upgrades
- Lack of warp points can make backtracking a pain
- Instant-death platforming doesn't work in a game like this. Only a few areas lean on platforming but they are frustrating time-sinks as you jog back from a save point every time you make 1 mistake. There are good reasons why MetroidVanias rarely have instant-death platforming
- Can only equip 3 exploration upgrades. This gets tedious and adds nothing, as you constantly pause to swap out abilities. These should just all be equipped
- Lackluster RPG elements. There's no leveling system, just a skill-tree. Most of the upgrades you can purchase are very contextual and not helpful in bosses. The dash-stab on the other hand is totally broken
- Estus doesn't scale. Souls-likes generally have estus either restore a percentage of health or have estus upgrades so that estus keeps up with your increasing health. Blasphemous doesn't do this so your health-bar eclipses your healing after a few hours. You'll rarely ever be in danger, lessening tension, and healing is a pain since you have to heal 4+ times to fully recover.
- Difficulty is inverted. The bosses stay hard but standard enemies do not scale as the game goes on. Game is way too easy by the end
- Magic is worthless. It's very expensive and there's a lengthy warm-up animation that is impractical in boss fights
- Magic should reset at save points. You can stab yourself to get magic back and then immediately heal at the save point. This is an oversight and one Bloodborne addressed
- Corpse running is just tedious. You don't lose your souls, just your magic (which is useless) and rate of experience, plus you don't have only 1 chance to recover. It's just an inconvenience, and death doesn't have the tension it should. Yet another aspect of the souls formula that Blasphemous fails to understand.
- Closing the map makes you jump. It's the only button to unpause and it will inevitably kill you at some point.
- Your soul corpse often won't reset correctly. As in Souls, if you fall off a ledge or something, your corpse is supposed to spawn on the last actual platform. Unfortunately, this fails to work properly on spikes about 50% of the time, making it so I couldn't recover it. You can pay statues to get it back but the good-ending requires you to destroy these statues so this is pretty unforgivable
- About 7 hours in, the game reset my character progress to zero, with no way to recover the items and upgrades I'd found. I had to start the game over!!!!
- Toward the end of my second run, I stopped being able to interact with the item-blesser and fountains, making it so I couldn't claim my last 2 estus flasks. This was thankfully at the very end of my run, but this is potentially another game-breaker if it happens earlier
None of these issues alone are deal-breakers but put together, they show Blasphemous's poor understanding of the games it's imitating. Yet, I still enjoyed it and will replay it someday. It's highs are very high but its design flaws and bugs constantly drag it down.… Expand