The release of the Blasphemous announcement trailer makes one think of Castlevania crossed with Dark Souls. Developer The Game Kitchen launched the project through Kickstarter in May 2017, and although development seems to have taken longer than expected, the gameplay looks fantastic.
Blasphemous looks like a carefully penned love letter to the action-platformers from our youth, combining fast-paced, skilled combat of a hack-n-slash game with a charge meter that can be used for spells and special abilities. The levels are non-linear, which also means there should be plenty of room for exploring and secrets. It is also brutal. Brutal in the most explicit sense of the word, with a violence that transcends its old-school pixelated presentation. This is going to be a good one.
The project had a modest goal in its Kickstarter campaign to reach $50,000, which it smashed to a total of $333,000. This in turn might explain why the game has taken longer than planned to release, as the Kickstarter page still shows a release date of November, 2018. The seventeen stretch goals surpassed in the campaign will provide the addition of six game modes apart from the main story, voice acting, summonable NPCs, alternative skins to use, and more, so it becomes clear how much more work the project took on outside of its initial scope. This is one Kickstarter campaign that seems to be delivering exactly what it laid out to do, unlike so many others that fade into obscurity.
Brendan Graeber at IGN says of the demo that he had the opportunity to play, “I was extremely pleased to see Blasphemous include one thing that many Souls-like games completely ignore: Lore.” This is great to hear, because all too often it feels like a developer needs to choose between worldbuilding or gameplay, with one coming at the expense of the other. Many Roguelike games today bank on their consumers loving a punishing, difficult gameplay experience over any manner of story. Instead, Blasphemous looks to lean hard into its dark world with storytelling, even if our main character seems to say little, if anything at all.
If Blasphemous ends up being like the Castelvania or Shovel Knight games, we will likely have a strong addition to an already impressive library of non-linear platforming actions games. Luckily, there is always room for more in this genre when done with care.