The gore-soaked, darkly religious world of Blasphemous is yours to tour today, although you'd best get in quick. The time-limited demo vanishes on Sunday, September 1st, with the full game launching on September 10th.
A Kickstarter success story, Blasphemous joins the growing ranks of Dark Souls-inspired metroidvanias (soulsyvanias, as I like to call them), offering a mixture of free exploration, punishing combat and harsh penalties for death. This one's a little bit heavier on the gore and horror than the likes of Hollow Knight, though. Players control The Penitent One, an undying, self-flagellating warrior as he explores the miracle-warped land of Cvstodia, and the demo alone is dense with specifically Spanish (that's where the developers are from, after all) Roman Catholic imagery.
From my brief time with the demo, I was struck by how little the game's elaborate, detailed animations get in the way of combat. While not quite as immediate as Dead Cells or Hollow Knight, combat still feels closer to Castlevania: Symphony Of The Night (or Bloodstained, for that matter) than other, 'heavier' Souls-inspired 2D games. Between fast combos and a responsive dodge button, dancing around your enemies as you slowly drain them of blood feels the way to play.
The animations are half the reason to play, though. Beautifully detailed and full of grim character. To heal using a vial of holy blood, the Penitent One smashes it across his capirote-styled helmet before quickly drawing a holy symbol across his forehead before it dries. The Game Kitchen's commitment to the game's black metal aesthetic is absolute, and some of the finishing moves you can perform in combat are downright excessive. It's a small mercy that enemies disintegrate on death, or things might get awkward as you wade through the aftermath of your latest rampage.
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The product of a wasted youth, wasted prime and getting into wasted middle age, Dominic Tarason is a freelance writer, occasional indie PR guy and professional techno-hermit seen in many strange corners of the internet and seldom in reality. Based deep in the Welsh hinterlands where no food delivery dares to go, videogames provide a gritty, realistic escape from the idyllic views and fresh country air. If you're looking for something new and potentially very weird to play, feel free to poke him on Twitter. He's almost sociable, most of the time.