This article was originally published on Doublejump.
The Game Kitchen’s indie Souls-like, Blasphemous, beckons players back to the gothic, side-scrolling madness of Cvstodia with a massive free update, The Stir of Dawn, which not only brings a number of quality-of-life changes but also serves as a significant expansion that opens new areas to traverse as you explore a brand-new storyline.
Blasphemous was initially released on September 10 last year after yet another explosive Kickstarter campaign, which saw The Game Kitchen securing its initial target of $50,000 in just 24 hours and going on to secure over $200,000, enabling release on all major consoles. Blasphemous’ Kickstarter success can be attributed to The Game Kitchen’s pedigree, with the Seville, Spain-based developer previously creating the award-winning point-and-click adventure The Last Door — one of the finest horror games I’ve ever played.
Released earlier this week, Blasphemous: The Stir of Dawn’s new content overlaps with the base game’s narrative, adding hours of new gameplay spread out across your entire playthrough. The catch, however, is that the majority of the new content and mechanics are available exclusively in the New Game+ mode. Known as “True Torment Mode”, Blasphemous’ New Game+ mode activates your typical enemy upgrades — increased hit points and damage (they hit like trucks!), faster recovery and smarter AI — and balances that out by carrying over any sword, prayer and ability unlocks you found in your original playthrough. The only things that don’t carry over are health and fervour (magic) upgrades that you’ve found; The Game Kitchen sees those as an integral part of each playthrough, so you’ll have to find them all over again.
You can only access the Stir of Dawn storyline and the sidequests it brings in the True Torment Mode, by finding the new NPC Jibrael and receiving his quest to defeat the swathe of new bosses known as the Amanecidas. You can find Jibrael and get the Stir of Dawn quest line moving pretty early in the playthrough, but the Amanecidas are spread throughout the map, so you’re looking at at least one complete playthrough in order to see and play through all of the new content.
Completing a playthrough with a Penitence equipped rewards you with an exclusive cosmetic reward and a new passive power in the form of a rosary bead; there is currently an issue with the game that’s causing the rosary reward to stay locked, but The Game Kitchen has already stated that it’s working on a hotfix for that issue that will retroactively award the rosary to anyone who has already completed a “Penitence run.”
The increased difficulty frequently forced me to hot-switch my passive abilities and spells mid-battle, which I never needed to worry about in my initial playthrough. Although it’s great that the new battles push players to be a little more creative and put in a little more effort in order to reap the rewards, it unfortunately highlighted just how clunky Blasphemous’ menu system — one of the very few things The Game Kitchen didn’t rework in this new version — is, both in terms of speed and functionality.
Aside from that, though, the colossal expansion also features updated voice acting, offering a complete Spanish option, and a rework of some character, enemy and level art (see below for an example of the latter). The Game Kitchen has also updated the map, adding markers to help you with backtracking, and added a number of gloriously welcome new fast-travel points on top of the original game’s selection. I don’t want to spoil any of Blasphemous’ new mysteries for, but I very, very strongly recommend that you invest in Albero as soon as you can.
If you’re a glutton for punishment and pride yourself on overcoming the greatest challenges gaming has to offer, Blasphemous: The Stir of Dawn has you covered. Bringing out the best in an already devilish Souls-like, the expansion eases the pain of your constant deaths by making the world more accessible than ever.
Tom reviewed Blasphemous: The Stir of Dawn using a retail Switch code from the Nintendo eShop.
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