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Blasphemous is a beautifully grotesque platformer

Sometimes a game can sell itself to me with a single image or animation. Blasphemous [Kickstarter page], a non-linear 2D platformer from the creators of The Last Door, is one such game. It’s like Hieronymus Bosch and Castlevania had a baby, and the baby was gigantic and it tore the arms off any pilgrims who wandered too close. There’s a Kickstarter running but even at this early stage, the $50,000 target is within touching distance. That doesn’t surprise me at all because it really does look gloriously horrible.

For those who don’t remember the previous release from The Game Kitchen, The Last Door is an episodic point and click adventure game, where a few pixels can present a person or a house. I think the art style fits the weird tales perfectly, but it’s a far cry from Blasphemous which is packed with detail rather than intentionally obscure.

There’s no pointing and clicking in Blasphemous. It’s a monster-mashing action game, where you play as The Penitent One a rogue nomad wearing a crown cone of with thorns. The art design has something of the brilliant uncomfortable weirdness of an Ice-Pick Lodge game and I don’t really care what kind of game is underneath it. I’d play just about anything if it looked this imaginative and gruesome.

Fortunately for people who aren’t quite so easily won over, Blasphemous sounds like it’s interesting bits and pieces won’t just be skin-deep. It’s an open-ended platformer, with a combat focus. You’ll be able to customise your combat style using equipment, including rosary beads that affect abilities. And the setting is amazing:

…Riddled with frustration at their insufficient devotion, The High Pontiff heaved his golden throne with and turned the entire throne back. Years passed and all of a sudden it appeared something was beginning to change in the state of the High Pontiff. Dried out, dying branches began to emerge from the ends of his fingers and slowly started growing out from all over his pallid, immobile body. The High Pontiff was transformed into a great, withered and barren tree and began to burn for ninety days and ninety nights…

…Once the tree had been entirely consumed by the flames, a huge mountain of ash stood in its place, topped by the infamous turned throne, unoccupied and unguarded. The remaining church leadership scrambled upwards to reach the top and assume the throne. But the mountain begin to shift beneath their feet and before long the mountain of ash had swallowed up each and every soul who had been present in the Cathedral. From the ashes rose those poor unfortunate souls who had been swallowed up, transformed into horrible, deformed and bloodthirsty beasts, wildly aggressive and violent in nature, but with their faith intact…

tl;dr? Pontiff is fed up because people aren’t sufficiently worshipful so he turns his back on them, turns into a tree, bursts into flames, and his ashes corrupt and mutate his former followers. Lovely stuff.

Twenty dollars is enough to get you a copy of the game at release, which won’t be ’til November 2018.

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Adam Smith

former Deputy Editor

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