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.

29 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    Looks depressing.

    But maybe interesting. I’m guessing it’s metroidvania-ish? There’s not much info here for folks who can’t view videos at work.

    • noodlecake says:

      Can’t those people just watch the video when they’re not at work anymore?

  2. Vedharta says:

    With that cone head my first thought was…..

    BE PURE!!! BE VIGILANT!!!! BEHAAAAAAAAVE!!!!!

  3. lokimotive says:

    That’s a hell of a lot of evocative trailer. The giant baby tearing the player apart, the Pietà with Goat Tree Jesus, the landscape with the looming giant in the background, and especially the black metal soundtrack. Unfortunately it doesn’t sound like the actual game is going to be soundtracked with black metal, which is, perhaps, for the best, but damn they sure sold me.

  4. maxbuttpayne says:

    It’s about time the Tin Man got his own show with more mature subjects, like seemingly unrelated dark religious imagery and lots of red water.

  5. Miresnare says:

    Really loving the art direction. Looks very Moonstone / The Immortal by way of Dark Souls through a metal music filter.

    I’ll be backing this.

  6. Babymech says:

    Sometimes you hear people thoughtlessly wonder, “whatever happened to Fetus of God”? Well, obviously he became toddler of God.

  7. cpt_freakout says:

    Man, the aesthetic alone’s got me sold already. I love how surreal and gothic it looks, in the dry and murky way that many old platformers did (hell, even Ghosts and Goblins looked downright dirty).

  8. haldolium says:

    this looks marvelous. I hope the gameplay isn’t too punishing though, not wishing for yet another grinder that has a beautiful world tainted by unforgiving gameplay.

  9. gabrielonuris says:

    I’ve got some Slain! vibes with it, and of course, the style alone sold me with that one too.

    It’s like Hieronymus Bosch and Castlevania had a baby

    …and the baby was a fan of Cradle of Filth and Dimmu Borgir.

  10. Bing_oh says:

    Are those grim reapers carrying church bells? Obtuse poetic reference, perhaps? “For whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.”

  11. Premium User Badge

    DantronLesotho says:

    I sure hope it plays as well as it looks. I still feel somewhat let down by Slain. At least Dead Cells plays fantastic; it’ll keep me going for a while.

  12. Premium User Badge

    AutonomyLost says:

    Looks fucking nasty, in the best way. Thanks for the scoop, Adam!

  13. Smoof says:

    This looks great! But does remind me a lot of Slain! which is definitely worrisome; That said, Slain! was feels like it’s trying very hard to be Metal, whereas this just kind of IS. The imagery and music are on the whole, feel darker, more interesting, more evocative, but we’ll see how it pans out.

  14. GameCat says:

    That’s the pixelart I was fighting for.

  15. davec1 says:

    First I thought tin man from the Wizard of Oz, but then I realized the pointy hat is probably inspired by the pointy hat robes they wear at Easter processions in Spain (no, the KKK did not invent those), as is the “Processioner” monster, evidently. (which isn’t surprising, since it’s a Spanish developer). Looks great!

    • Arkovian Rep says:

      Hello, we`ve got a winner!

      I`m a Spaniard, I can confirm your suspects. Developers The Game Kitchen are not only from Spain but from Seville, probably the town in Spain where Easter (and Easter Processions with these Cone Guys that carry statues representing scenes of the Passion of Jesus -and frightening black tourists from the US) are more passionately lived. Cone Guys are called by us “Penitentes” (Penitents) or “Nazarenos” (from Nazareth).

      Not everybody in Seville ist so fond of Easter Processions, I guess devs are mocking all this passion crazyness (by exagerating and perverting it a little). They could even get some anti-campaign from the Church or Procession fans, who knows.

      I’m just waiting for the game, looks good and the twisted religious ambientation fits me. And it’s a Spanish game, of course! ;-)

  16. smeaa mario says:

    The Chakan vibe is real. I am sold.

  17. April March says:

    This will probably be the kind of game I’ll be rubbish at and won’t be ever able to play, but gosh it looks beautiful. And the hat! What an excellent hat

  18. Scare Tactics says:

    Visceral

  19. Treners says:

    It looks good, but the art style is pretty much directly ripped from Dark Souls and Bloodborne. The protagonist’s armour in that top pic is pretty much exactly the Undead Legion Armour from DS3, with very little changed, and the helmet/mask is also extremely similar to the Aristocrats Mask from the same game.

    And in that gif of the demon-thing getting out of the statue throne, it’s position is pretty much the same as (bloodborne old hunters minor spoiler ahead)

    the position and shape of the cleric beast in the cathedral in the hunter’s nightmare.

    (spoiler over)

    These are pretty minor quibbles I guess, and it is beautifully done, however, I do feel it crosses just over slightly from “inspired by” do “basically copying”.

    Edit: having watched the trailer, it does still look pretty rad and I will likely pick it up on release, but I stand by my point about the armour and boss(?) design.

    • poliovaccine says:

      Euhhh I mean, its easy to see why you say so, but I think it’s more likely both Dark Souls and this game take inspiration from the same religious art and iconography, which was always, very sincerely, creepy as wormshit. I wouldnt fault it too much for resembling that aesthetic, cus as much as DS did with it to make it their own, they didnt really invent it either. I just find myself liking the styles of both on the same common ground.

      To be fair though, I havent played Bloodbourne, so I cant speak to how specific yr examples are in every case. But you could easily say something like, “oh they ripped off the crown of antlers from True Detective,” but of course True Detective got it from old nature worship.

      • Treners says:

        I might not have been clear- it’s fine to take inspiration, and you’re absolutely right that Dark Souls takes a ton of mythological inspiration and Bloodborne essentially IS Lovecraft: The Souls Game, however, especially with the armour in these screenshots, it looks almost exactly the same as a specific set of items in Dark Souls 3.

        My Bloodborne comparison was a bit more of a nitpick though.

      • Jstn says:

        Look at the head of this knight and compare it with the head of the Looking Glass Knight from Dark Souls 2. Look at the arm of this knight and compare it with Artorias from Dark Souls.

  20. Ser Crumbsalot says:

    Looks interesting, but the one time I actually backed a game I only got lies and disappointment, so I’ll just wait till it gets released.

  21. poliovaccine says:

    The art style here makes me wish I were more interested in Metroidvanias/2-D action in general. Though sometimes art is good enough to pull me into its own sphere in spite of myself, not just in games but in general, so I’ll be happy to give it a chance. Anyway, as my PC ages and gaming standards march forward, I should probably make more effort to get into some more of these 2-D pixelart affairs.

    As someone else said above, though, I’ll probably suck at it.

  22. Darth Gangrel says:

    “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” That kind of thinking is why over excited devs say “visceral” a dozen times during preview sessions. Have you thought about that, Adam?

  23. Jstn says:

    I’d play just about anything if it looked this imaginative and gruesome.

    Is this “imaginative” though? Again, compare the head with the head of the Looking Glass Knight in Dark Souls 2, compare the pose and arm with Artorias from Dark Souls. And that is, apparently, the main character?