Blasphemous 2 Review - Unholy Pilgrimage
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Blasphemous 2 Review - Unholy Pilgrimage

Whether it's a giant woman willfully letting the Children of Moonlight deglove one of her hands; a bearded man leaking golden honey out of gaping wounds in his palms, face, and back; or a vendor that's simply an arm protruding from a towering pile of goods, developer The Game Kitchen has a knack for creating surreal pixel art imagery. Blasphemous 2 sees the Seville-based studio delve further into Andalusian and Spanish culture, iconography, and folklore to concoct a gothic, quasi-Catholic world that's as gruesome as it is fascinating. Inspired by the religious paintings of Francisco Goya and the architecture of cities like Seville and Cadiz, Blasphemous 2 follows in the footsteps of its predecessor, mixing its unique and harrowing aesthetic with a gameplay amalgam of Metroidvanias and Souls-likes. Where the first game faltered, however, its sequel makes significant improvements, resulting in a thrilling adventure that doesn't run out of steam.

As solid as the original game was, monotony did seep into its latter half due to a lack of variety--with one-dimensional combat limited by a single weapon--and some frustrating platforming. Thankfully, Blasphemous 2 rectifies both of these issues by introducing a robust combat system in tandem with more varied traversal that doesn't rely on an overabundance of spike traps. You'll still encounter the occasional pitfall intended to punish mistimed leaps, but plunging onto a bed of jagged spikes doesn't result in instant death anymore. This is a crucial change since an expanded repertoire of abilities has resulted in more demanding platforming, yet you're unlikely to feel disheartened if you do make a mistake while traversing this labyrinthine world.

When it comes to story, Blasphemous 2 is as obfuscated as its predecessor. Much of its heady lore can be interpreted from dialogue with friendly NPCs and loquacious item descriptions, but if you're anything like me, you'll need an in-depth lore video to fully grasp it all. Nevertheless, the setup is rather simple. Picking up right where Blasphemous' Wounds of Eventide DLC left off, Blasphemous 2 begins with the return of the all-powerful deity known as The Miracle, who is prophesied to give birth to a so-called miracle child. This forces The Penitent One to awaken from his final resting place in order to slay the unholy newborn and every other grotesque monstrosity in his path. Along the way, myriad NPCs will shine a faint light on the mysterious new world the Penitent One finds himself in and its hidden secrets, but only if you choose to seek out these ancillary threads. Much like the inscrutable fables of From Software, you'll only take out as much as you're willing to put in. This style of storytelling isn't for everyone, but even if you can't or aren't willing to comprehend all of its machinations, the tales you do fully engage with are likely to engross.

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