In my eyes, Blasphemous 2 is a story of redemption.
Throughout the blighted lands in this sequel, you will find no shortage of denizens hoping to be redeemed. Condemned to often dark, grisly fates by the entity called the Miracle, these people graciously accept their punishments, hoping that their pain will absolve them of sin. Similarly, Blasphemous 2 strikes me as a game that wants to absolve itself from its predecessor’s shortcomings. I briefly played Blasphemous before taking on this review, but I honestly couldn’t get into it. I felt the combat was stiff, the platforming was aggravating, and the story absolutely did not grab me with its ornate, often vague prose.
On two of those counts, Blasphemous 2 marks an inspired improvement. In a world where even Mickey Mouse needs a Metroidvania, games of this genre require absolute excellence to stand out. I didn’t expect Blasphemous 2 to give me the same highs as all-time genre greats like Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow, but that’s exactly how I felt playing much of this one. Blasphemous 2 truly shines with the love of its creators.
It’s unfortunate, then, that this otherwise immaculate sequel didn’t completely cleanse itself of the first game’s sins. But I must admit that where I see imperfections, Blasphemous fans may find profound beauty instead.
Our story kicks off after the original Blasphemous’ Wounds of Evertide update. Set against the backdrop of dark religious imagery, our hero, the Penitent One, must battle through enemies both fierce and grotesque as they unravel a new mystery surrounding the Miracle. That said, I found the tone of Blasphemous 2 was established more by the first major choice players make.
Blasphemous 2 presents one of three weapons to bring into battle. You have the balanced option in the sword Ruego Al Alba, which should feel familiar to fans of Blasphemous. But players who prefer a nimbler option can instead opt for the Sarmiento & Centella rapiers, which rewards evasive dashing and consistent attacks. And then there’s my mainstay throughout the adventure, the Veredicto. As a Claimh Solais wielder in Dawn of Sorrow, I felt right at home with this huge ball-and-chain. Its wide attack arc makes it great for aerial enemies, but the longer animations and lack of a block button makes your positioning especially important during boss battles.
I love how Blasphemous 2 lets players tackle combat with their own playstyle. While you do eventually collect each weapon to switch between later on, I never felt like I had to use one specific weapon to win. Even in fast, fierce boss battles which looked impossible without a dedicated block button, I still found ways to dodge and deal damage with the Veredicto. I will say I didn’t find much use for the Sarmiento & Centella rapiers, as they play a bit too similarly to the Ruego Al Alba. But I’m willing to bet some players will absolutely tear the game apart using them.
The valley of the shadow of death
The weapons don’t just add nice variety to the combat; they expand the level design too. As you make your way through the game, you’ll encounter gimmicks that use each weapon in unique ways. For example, you can hit large bells with the Veredicto that send out shockwaves that make platforms appear for a limited amount of time. Or you can stab mirrors with the Sarmiento & Centella to instantly launch a short distance in a specific direction.
This doesn’t sound like a lot on paper, but Blasephemous 2 uses these concepts to create some great platforming sections between battles. More than a few sequences actually require flipping through your weapons in rapid succession to interact with their gimmicks. I never got bored of these moments, and they’re a remarkable improvement over the platforming sections I saw in Blasphemous.
Exploration also feels great in general due to the infusion of new progression systems. Like before, you can find rosary beads and similar equipment that can grant certain passives. However, Blasphemous 2 adds Marks of Martyrdom, which functionally work like skill points. Whenever you earn one, you can invest them into your weapons to strengthen them, or expand your carrying capacity for Altarpieces that can help you specialize your playstyle. You’ll find Marks both from exploration and an EXP bar that fills while fighting enemies, which gives combat more meaning without overwriting the impact of exploration.
Blasphemous 2 does a fantastic job of dishing out meaningful upgrades without undermining its own difficulty. I always felt like the battles in front of me required skill over grinding, no matter how strong my character was at any moment. Which is good, because the challenge in Blasphemous 2 is well worth savoring.
Gnashing of teeth
Virtually every enemy in Blasphemous 2 is a delight to take down. Most foes have distinct attacks and movement patterns, so you can’t steamroll the game with one surefire tactic. At the same time, I never felt bogged down by tanky, annoying enemies. This is a delicate balance that many Metroidvanias stumble on, so it’s refreshing to see Blasphemous 2 handle it so well.
Similarly, almost all the boss fights were an absolute joy to play. For most encounters, I often found myself getting slapped hard at first. However, incoming attacks always have clear telegraphs you can watch out for, so repeated attempts felt like opportunities to learn from my mistakes. I typically took down bosses within three attempts, usually stomping them hard once I mastered their quirks.
Blasphemous 2 consistently gave me that hard game rush without ever really feeling like a hard game. It’s a challenge, especially if you aren’t well-versed in this genre, but I never felt particularly frustrated. At the same time, victory always gave me that “heck yes!” feeling. I will say the game does weirdly dip in challenge shortly after the midpoint. It gates a few upgrade systems despite letting you find their applicable items throughout the adventure, so bosses right after this big stat jump for me didn’t have quite the bite that prior bosses did. Fortunately, the game does come back around near the end, with some especially great encounters near the final act.
Walking by faith
The only piece of Blasphemous 2 that I never quite fully got on board with is its storytelling. Before I go any further, I will acknowledge that anyone who enjoyed piecing together Blasphemous’ lore will almost certainly enjoy Blasphemous 2. Vague, minimalist stories like this are often divisive, and I’m just not a fan of them. If my thoughts don’t resonate with you in this regard, take these words with a grain of salt. The story is still framed as a key part of Blasphemous 2 though, so it did impact my overall experience.
Blasphemous 2 makes no effort to catch anyone up if they didn’t finish Blasphemous and its Wounds of Eventide update. If you don’t know what the Miracle is going into this one, good luck. And even if you do, Blasphemous 2 strikes me as a game that expects you to only know what’s going on after its intended community solves it. All the dialogue is incredibly wordy, often saying in 15 words what could have been said in five. I followed the broad strokes just fine, but so much between the big story beats just felt meaningless.
That said, I eventually wondered if that feeling of meaningless was the point of Blasphemous 2. I don’t need to tell you that this game leans heavily on its religious imagery, and against that backdrop, it does make sense that everyone talks like they’re reading scripture. Yet in a world in which so many of its denizens attribute their meaning to the Miracle, my protagonist succeeded in spite of it. I charted my course through these lands, I acquired power through my own actions, and I decided how to use the prayers and rosary beads I found along the way. My play experience was at direct odds with the other characters, which made their dark fates all the more pitiable.
In short, my take away from Blasphemous 2 wasn’t necessarily a religious commentary. Instead, I interpreted it as a story of agency versus submission. That’s not the deepest theme to focus on, but it did kind of work for me on that level.
The ends didn’t justify the means
Though I felt happy with this interpretation, I still think the story’s execution is a bit at odds with itself. For reference, when FromSoftware does vague, minimalist storytelling, I generally think it works because it mostly stays in the background. It’s there for the lore folks to unpack, but it otherwise kind of blends in with the atmosphere.
Blasphemous 2, meanwhile, gives its story a bit more prominence. The plot is presented like you’re already invested without ever making an effort to draw players in. For example, one secret I found late in the game hit me with a horror stinger sound effect, like I just discovered something that should blow my mind. Yet while I grasped the implications, I just didn’t really care. It made the moment feel weirdly comical for me, even though that clearly wasn’t the intention.
Honestly, I could forgive that on its own. But for as consistently fun and engaging as Blasphemous 2 was for me, I felt really underwhelmed by the end. I won’t say more than that for spoilers sake, though the final act did have one standout moment for me. I wanted to compensate for this by doubling back and exploring to get that sweet 100% completion. But after chasing down clues and wondering how the heck to uncover secrets in rooms that apparently hid them, I realized I could be doing literally anything else with my time. So my time with Blasphemous 2 kind of ended on a whimper, but that fortunately didn’t ruin the experience.
A book of revelation
I want to reiterate that these hang-ups for me will likely be selling points for other players. If you fall into this camp, then I’m happy to tell you you’re going to absolutely love Blasphemous 2. Even with these loose ends left on my save file, I hope I can return to get that 100% completion after the community properly solves the game. Not as a critic, but just as a fan.
Even with a few grievances, I still came out really enjoying Blasphemous 2. The challenge was consistently on point, the variety of areas in the map felt consistently fresh, and I had a great time powering up and uncovering secrets. Not counting my postgame wandering, Blasphemous 2 took me roughly 15 hours to clear. I’d have been happy if it continued for another 10, which I mean entirely as a compliment. I forgot at times that I was even reviewing the game, I just looked forward to laying back with my Steam Deck and seeing what I could uncover next.
Anyone who likes Metroidvanias should absolutely make time for Blasphemous 2. Aside from an underwhelming final act, I had nearly consistent fun with this one from start to finish. From the gorgeous visuals to the customizable combat, your journey as the Penitent One will be filled with steady highs and only occasional lows. It’s a great sequel, a great game, and just a great time in general. If you were a fan of Blasphemous, you’re in for a treat with Blasphemous 2.
[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]