Blasphemous 2 Interview: The Penitent One Could Have Worn Different Armors

"There is content that didn't make it into the game, and we would be thrilled to include it in the future."

Story Highlights

  • Blasphemous 2 — sequel to the critically acclaimed Blasphemous — was released on August 24, 2023.
  • Unlike the first entry, It successfully grasps elements of Metroidvania and builds upon its predecessor.
  • We interviewed the lead programmer at The Game Kitchen to talk about various aspects of the game.

Those with a sprawling interest in the diverse genre of Metroidvania sure can’t pass up a name as prevalent as Blasphemous in the day and age we live in today. The 2D side-scroller franchise comprises two games now, with the latest one arriving this year back in August for current-gen consoles and PC, followed by an Xbox One and PlayStation 4 port that was released earlier in November.

In recent times, eXputer had the privilege to interview Francisco Urena over an email Q&A, The Game Kitchen’s lead programmer who worked on both the first Blasphemous and its freshly arriving sequel. As you read ahead for the full conversation, you’ll find insights into the progress that the devs made themselves, along with why Blasphemous 2 couldn’t let The Penitent One wear other armor pieces. 

That, along with more interesting info entails ahead, thanks to Fransico expanding on various of my questions. Let’s get started, therefore, with no further ado. 

Blasphemous 2 - Screenshot via Steam
Blasphemous 2 – Screenshot via Steam.

Before we ask anything else, can you briefly introduce yourself, your work on Blasphemous 2, and any other interesting things you would like to share?
Francisco: I have been the lead programmer for Blasphemous 1 and 2, and I have also been responsible for some of the gameplay-related design ideas for both games. Before working on these games, I served as a backend programmer for several web and mobile projects, although that feels like a distant chapter in my life now.

In your own words, can you explain the world of Blasphemous and some lore behind both of the games?
Francisco: The core idea of Blasphemous lore revolves around the entity known as the Miracle. It is a concept linked to the idea of divinity, not necessarily benevolent, but rather capricious, and the power relationships and vassalage that arise around the will of the Miracle in the form of Brotherhoods and religious orders. These create a status quo that our protagonist is destined to either preserve or subvert, depending on the player’s decisions.

So, the Blasphemous Universe takes a lot of inspiration from the folklore of south Spain, which is something that Enrique and Mauricio have mentioned many times. With Blasphemous 2, did the team try to incorporate more of the same culture, or were there elements of other similar cultures to create something even more unique?
Francisco: Indeed, we have expanded the cultural sources that inspired us. Blasphemous 2 is not a game whose influences are limited to the religious culture of southern Spain; influences from Italian Renaissance art and classical art also come into play. Additionally, influences from cinema (e.g., Fellini’s ‘Roma’) and literature (e.g., Lorca’s ‘The House of Bernarda Alba’) have been added to the mix of religious art, shaping certain NPCs or environments within the game.

Speaking of folklore, why was the “Dark Catholic” holy week the initial direction the team went with? Usually, a studio would play safe and go for something else, which in this case would be a Gothic style.
Francisco: Even though it might seem risky, we felt that betting on our own local culture as the framework for developing a game like Blasphemous was a safe bet. Blasphemous emerges in a context where the aesthetic proposals of other games in the same genre are highly standardized, to the point that many games are interchangeable and suffer from a severe lack of identity. That’s why we believed giving our game a visually unique appearance with previously unseen references could act as a catalyst for a genre as overused as metroidvanias.

On the other hand, we felt that from the beginning, with the success of the Kickstarter campaign, our endeavor had the enthusiastic support of the community. This allowed us to explore this aesthetic choice with greater confidence and assurance.

The first game was extremely popular, but even then, it wasn’t pure Metroidvania, which is something that I believe the team tried to improve in Blasphemous 2. But why did the team feel the need to do so?
Francisco: When we started developing Blasphemous, we didn’t have experience creating games in the metroidvania genre. Many of the classic elements of these games, such as backtracking or player skill progression, posed challenges that we tackled as best as we could. In the end, we created a hybrid game that worked well and resonated with the audience. However, after the experience of the first game and its three DLCs, we felt that a natural way to expand the Blasphemous community was to make its gameplay proposal more recognizable. We achieved this by fully embracing the formula and conventions of the metroidvania genre, something we felt capable of doing due to the experience gained.

Now, after the release, how satisfied is the team with the finished product, and is there something that the team wants to improve upon in a possible future iteration?
Francisco: After the game’s release and the reception it has received from the press and the public, we are really pleased. There are always technical aspects that, naturally, as a team, we feel can be improved, and that’s the purpose behind some of the updates that have been released post-launch. Additionally, there is content that didn’t make it into the game, and we would be thrilled to include it in the future, although I can’t talk much about it.

Where exactly did the idea come from for the weapon interactions or its utility with the environment?
Francisco: After the release of the first game, many people asked us if it would be possible in the future to use more weapons. Considering that, due to lore reasons, we wouldn’t be able to use Mea Culpa, and taking into account that having multiple weapons is something people are used to enjoying in a metroidvania game, we decided to include that option. However, a way to make it original was to link the weapons to the classic exploration abilities that are common in games of this genre. Although it didn’t work perfectly in the early prototypes, after several iterations, we achieved something that was fun, and we decided to move in that direction.
Blasphemous 2 - Screenshot via Steam
Blasphemous 2 – Screenshot via Steam.

Were there ever talks of a different main character, perhaps someone like Crisanta? If so, can we potentially see that happen in a future sequel?
Francisco: We know that Crisanta is a much-loved character, and we on the team really appreciate that sentiment from the audience. Right now, the option of a game starring Crisanta is not on the table, but I can’t say that it will never happen. In any case, we are not unaware of the potential that character holds for the Blasphemous community.

Were there any other ideas the team had but scrapped mid-development for some reason? If so, what were those ideas, and why were they scrapped?
Francisco: Yes, I suppose it’s part of the development process for any game to scrap content, which can be due to various reasons. The same has been true for Blasphemous 2. We’ve scrapped ideas due to lack of time, as they would appear or come to us when there was hardly any development time left. We’ve also scrapped ideas because when we prototyped them, they didn’t work; they weren’t fun. In the case of the former, it’s common to save them and hope to include them in the future, either in this game or perhaps in others. To mention an idea that was discarded due to a time constraint, I can tell you that initially, there was a thought that the protagonist could wear different armor, each granting different abilities and attributes. However, the cost of animations soared, and we decided not to pursue that route.

After you and other developers have had a good rest after the successful launch of Blasphemous 2, what can we expect from future projects regarding their scale, theme, style, or anything else that you don’t mind sharing?
Francisco: Unfortunately, I can’t tell you much about that. Right now, we’re taking a break, noting the reactions and feedback from the community about the game, and considering what the best future for Blasphemous and for The Game Kitchen might be.

Since you would know it better than us, have the fans been demanding Blasphemous 3 already? And if so, would it be enough to convince the studio to consider it in the coming years?
Francisco: Even though the release of Blasphemous 2 is still close, there are indeed those who are already anticipating a third installment of the game. The mere idea of thinking about it right now makes us a bit dizzy because, although we’re not short on ideas, it’s important to remember that we’ve been immersed in the development of this IP since 2016, which indeed sounds quite distant. Embarking on the development of a complete game is not something to be taken lightly, and it’s not a decision to be rushed. We have to see how well Blasphemous 2 performs and assess our spirits in the future to create something that lives up to the first two installments.

How big was the studio at the time of developing the first game? And how much has it grown since then? For future projects, can we expect the studio to grow even more and transition from an indie developer to something bigger?
Francisco: In the beginning, there were only three people in the studio when the development of Blasphemous started. After the successful Kickstarter campaign, the team quickly grew, and by the time the game was finished, there were more than fifteen of us. Currently, we have several teams working on not only the Blasphemous IP. Regarding the future of The Game Kitchen, I believe that the option of something with a larger budget than Blasphemous 2, like a AA game, is something that must be approached very cautiously, although it’s not ruled out, of course.

Can we expect the studio to continue delving into the dark and horror genre, or have there been considerations for something more cheerful and different from the norm at The Game Kitchen?
Francisco: It’s hard to know what will be the next inspiring idea that convinces the team to start developing a new IP. Our creative director, Enrique Cabeza, has always been drawn to certain concepts that usually find their place in the horror and dark fantasy genres, giving both the studio and the games a distinct authorial tone that has worked very well. We don’t know if it will continue this way in the future because, as I mentioned, it’s not an entirely intentional process.

Is there any chance that the studio will revisit The Last Door
Francisco: We’re quite surprised by how often we get asked that question. The truth is, it’s not something we’ve considered recently or something we’re taking very seriously right now. However, the world of game development can sometimes take very unexpected turns. As I mentioned before, you never know what might be the next inspiring thing.

YouTube video

The success of the first iteration quickly made Blasphemous 2 one of the most anticipated indie titles of 2023. Considering how well the first game did, it was difficult to see how the sequel would surpass it. However, The Game Kitchen managed to do just that with various features and proper implementation of Metroidvania. Still, the team had to let go of some ideas that didn’t work out well due to reasons stated by Francisco above.

Nevertheless, we might see some of those ideas in a possible DLC or another title. Suffice to say The Game Kitchen has not run out of creativity, and we just have to let them cook. Even so, I am curious to know what it would have been like to see the Penitent One with different armor, but maybe that’s something we will see in the future.

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Mudassir is a seasoned journalist with a passion for uncovering the stories behind our favorite virtual worlds. Armed with a trusty notepad and a keen curiosity, he dives headfirst into the gaming industry's most exciting personalities. His knack for insightful questions and his ability to connect with developers and gamers alike makes his interviews a must-read. While on the lookout for the next person to interview, Mudassir keeps himself busy by writing news surrounding the gaming universe. Experience: 4+ Years || Senior Journalist || Education: Bachelor's in Psychology.

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