Now this is what you call pixel art. The striking visuals of Blasphemous come courtesy The Game Kitchen, the team that also brought us The Last Door. This brutal and blood soaked carnage of a game is very well made and, as already alluded to, it looks beautiful – in a sickening way. As you slice and dice your way through some of the most artistic horrors I’ve seen, you’ll feel small and helpless in a universe much larger then you.
“Join through a nightmarish universe full of hellish, bloodthirsty creatures. Exploration, intense combat and a very twisted religious world await you in this 2D action platformer.”
Set in the truly devastating land of Orthodoxia, you take control of a soldier known as The Penitent One. With a sword blessed by the gods, you set off to destroy creatures and beasts, themselves transformed townsfolk being punished for their crimes of blasphemy. At first I thought ‘how full on could this game be?’ The answer is pretty full on! This game has everything evil and demonic that you could possibly think of; from exploding zombies to flying priests in chairs, to humongous size bosses that won’t give up without a fight. Blasphemous definitely has that Castlevania style feel to it, jumping and ducking attacks while using special moves and sword thrusts to clear out the section. You have a skill tree, which unlocks skills by defeating enemies and gaining points. Upgraded attacks, defense and health extensions are available, but you can also upgrade another way. You soldier keeps with him a set of rosary beads which you can attach other enchantments and items to, giving you even more ways to level up and become stronger. Along your voyage you will come across merchant stores via cracks in the walls or hidden doorways. Here you can spend points for high end items such as ones to let you see the health bar of enemies, power attacks and defense magic.
As you run along the landscape, scenery rolls along in the background and gives the whole game a sense of dread and foreboding. Twisted mountains and desolated villages with townsfolk lying strewn around the towns and underground dungeons with dangers and traps that just get harder as you progress. The non-linear aspect is a great idea and works well; you may come across an area not immediately accessible, so you need to head down and around to reach the other side and unlock the door, making things much easier if you were to later perish and need to retread your steps. You will also encounter strange doors or big shrine looking statues. Using these will refill your health and act as a save point.
The game boasts a ton of lore with collectable items filling in the in game menu, where you can read about each item and it’s backstory. Blasphemous has a heavy story narrative and the voice work is done superbly with perfect accents that suit characters perfectly. All of this is accompanied by an original soundtrack from composer Carlos Viola, lending weight to the great atmospheric look into how religion can be altered and seen in many ways. The artists have done a very nice job of making the game look as realistic as possible, within the confines of the pixel art technique, and as already stated, it looks amazing. That being said I’m a bit of a fan of the look of old school games, so I loved every second of this. Controls feel great and precise, keeping you in control of the action at all times. Handy, as you are going to need all the help you can get!
Blasphemous has an astonishingly good looking art style, making the oft used pixel art look feel fresh, even after all these years. But beyond that, there’s a solid game here, with a decent challenge that will keep you hooked. That the story is also captivating – steeping you in the lore of the universe here – is just another upside to this brilliant adventure.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.