We're big fans of 2019's Blasphemous, The Game Kitchen's exquisitely dark and gory action-platformer that saw players assume the role of The Penitent One as he faced off against the eternally damned Denizens of Cvstodia. With top-notch hack-and-slash action, grotesque bosses, an intricately animated pixel art style and some slick platforming to boot, it remains one of our absolute favourite platformers on Nintendo Switch.

With Blasphemous 2, the story picks up directly after the events of The Wounds of Eventide, the first game's final slice of DLC. The Miracle has now returned to Cvstodia and The Penitent One has been resurrected from his eternal slumber to set out on another blood-soaked romp that sees him on the trail of three hideous guardians, and that's just for starters.

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

In terms of the sequel's look and feel, The Game Kitchen has wisely chosen to continue in the same stylistic vein as its predecessor. This really is one of the very best-looking platformers out there, with intricately detailed animations accompanying every step, slide and slash The Penitent One makes as he reacquaints himself with the wonderfully twisted religious iconography and demented enemy designs that haunt every chapel, corridor and cave of Cvstodia.

Whilst things look and sound much the same as before, the core combat and platforming have seen a rather tasty overhaul. The Penitent One's single sword, the Mea Culpa, has been replaced with three upgradable weapons, which gives you far more choice in how you proceed to devastate your adversaries. As you're resurrected at the start of the game, you're given a choice as to which of these weapons you want to set out with. The Veridicto, a great big flaming incense burner, does the most damage but is the slowest option — it's also the one we chose to kick off with. Sarmiento & Centella are two incredibly fast rapier-style swords wrapped in metal thorns and are the quickest but weakest option. Lastly, Ruego Al Alba sits in the middle ground as an all-rounder with some fancy upgrades to add to its usefulness.

Each of the weapons here has an impressively large skill tree of new moves to unlock via Markers of Martyrdom which you'll gather as you blast through your foes. No matter which weapon you start with, over the course of the campaign, you'll eventually get your hands on all three, giving you a much larger arsenal of manoeuvres to pull off and instantaneously switch between as needed. It's a setup that feels deeper and more rewarding than the first game's singular sword — although we do still miss our fully pimped Mea Culpa. Your bolstered armoury then feeds directly into platforming, which is also a step up from what we saw in The Penitent One's first outing.

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

While things get off to a rather slow start as you trudge through the first few areas with one weapon, your dash and a single jump, you'll soon find yourself blasting through ghastly barriers made from corpses, using Sarmiento & Centella to blink across chasms via magical mirrors, and ringing great big bells to temporarily reveal platforms and open doors that you'll then need to race through. There's some cracking puzzle design on show here and the game makes sure to take its time, introducing each aspect of environmental manipulation before beginning to mix them up and combine them in increasingly fiendish ways.

There's also a very welcoming curve to how the ante is upped in terms of enemy difficulty. Whilst the obvious Dark Souls influences and overall vibe may smack of VERY HARD GAME™, what you've actually got here is a well-balanced and welcoming experience that wants you to explore every nook and cranny of its twisted world as much as it wants you to bash an undead bishop's face in with his own candelabra. Right from the offset your in-game map is marked with the locations of your three guardian targets and you're free to wander off in any direction, figuring out where you can and can't go and slowly opening up new areas as you add more abilities to your repertoire in classic Metroidvania fashion.

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

As things progress the difficulty does begin to increase, of course; the world darkens and a whole new challenge reveals itself — we won't go into any spoiler material here — but by the time that happens most players should have a good enough handle on the ins and outs of the game's brutal and incredibly satisfying combat to get by. Make no mistake, hardcore players will find plenty to challenge them here, but this isn't a game that hits you with any brick walls or huge difficulty spikes early doors.

Another new gameplay addition comes in the form of all-new magic abilities, or Prayers. These are separated into Quick Verses, your one-button elemental attacks, and Chants, charged AOE efforts that require you to hold down and press "A". There are lots of these to purchase and find during the campaign, with a good mix of electric bolts, magical axes, mystical spinning discs and more for you to get your grubby hands on. You've also got Rosary Beads which allow you to add buffs as you go, and these too can be unlocked to give you more slots. Lastly, you have an Altarpiece of Favours where you can place wooden statues into eight slots to give yourself more buffs, such as increased block timings, more damage when your life is low and health recovery after pulling off one of the game's many bloody execution moves on your downed foes.

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

None of this stuff is anything we haven't seen before in the genre, as with everything else in the Blasphemous, but it's all pulled off with such style and panache. Every menu, item, weapon and add-on has its own lore and it all feeds into an overall sense of a world that's rich in detail. This level of attention to detail carries on into the many enemies and bosses you'll face off against too. You're fighting cursed creatures — inhabitants of Cvstodia are doomed to suffer eternal torment and, as much as they attack you venomously, there's a sense they don't want to, that external entities are forcing them into a cycle of violence against their will. We're not sure we've played another game where we genuinely pity most of our foes as we take them down.

Alongside the nightmare priests, slab-carrying statues, spectres, witches and other abominations you'll face, there are also plenty of strange NPCs to chat with, most of whom require some odd artifact in order to get rewards. There's a bunch of very creepy nuns who need you to find their lost sisters — surely you'll be rewarded handsomely for that? And what's with that great big bloated baby-man with the golden mask who seems to be slowly unlocking a path for you to ascend a huge tower as you progress? All of this stuff makes for a world that's great to get lost in, full of secrets and oddities to explore and divert off the critical path as it all slowly opens and unravels to reveal more and more of its hideous self.

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

As with the first game, all of the torment and violence here is filtered through a religious lens — it seeps out of every pore of this adventure, and you can tell that it's a subject of importance and personal interest to the developers. Luckily we find all of this religious iconography incredibly unsettling, so it makes for a perfect backdrop to the horrifyingly violent action. We should also mention Carlos Viola's superb soundtrack, which switches between gentle Spanish guitar tracks and orchestral efforts as you move from sacred tombs to marbled aqueducts, the Street of Wakes to the Choir of Thorns and beyond.

We're holding off on revealing plenty of bits and bobs here, but overall Blasphemous 2 is a sequel that strikes an excellent balance between sticking to what made the first game feel so unique whilst switching the core experience up enough to keep things more than interesting. If we'd been served up more of the same we'd probably have been plenty happy, but The Game Kitchen has meaningfully improved the combat, elevated the platforming and refined the movement of your main protagonist, making for an experience that joins its predecessor at the very upper echelons of action-platformers available on Nintendo Switch.

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

Moving on to performance, Blasphemous 2 looks and sounds great in both docked and handheld modes whilst performing perfectly for the vast majority of its running time. We did encounter a little bit of slow-down during a section late in the game, even after a pre-release patch, but overall it's smooth sailing as far as this aspect of proceedings goes. We also noticed a slight camera glitch at the very top of one of the game's zones, with the view readjusting itself and glitching a little as we jumped across the uppermost platforms — something which will hopefully get patched out ASAP.

Beyond these minor niggles though, it's another resounding triumph for The Game Kitchen. Blasphemous 2 is a stellar sequel, the kind of follow-up that makes you want to dive right back into its predecessor and do a full series run, and a game that's got us hoping we get to see more from this fantastic franchise in the future. What a trilogy of games this could turn out to be!

Conclusion

Blasphemous 2 sticks with the exquisitely dark and gory style of its predecessor whilst building on the core combat and improving upon the platforming we saw the first time around. The Game Kitchen could have served us up more of the same and we'd have been perfectly happy. However, they've made meaningful upgrades here, with deeper and more satisfying combat and three upgradable weapon sets that combine perfectly with environmental puzzling that feels more cohesive and fluid overall. The Penitent One's return to Cvstodia is an absolute banger.