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Blasphemous Trailer Analysis — Is it my Genre?

by M. Joshua Cauller on 01/23/20 10:10:00 am   Featured Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

Transcript of video: Blasphemous — Is it my Genre?:

A game’s trailer should show the player if it’s their thing, their unique blend of genres. The only way to know if it captures that unique blend is to play the game deeply.

So after I play through a game I roll back through the trailer. I walk through the individual bits of how they capture the game’s unique genre elements. In the end you might find out if a game is your genre.

Welcome to Is It My Genre? — Episode 4: Blasphemous

Metroidvanias are kind of the most clearly defined video game genre that we have. You kind of know you are going to be getting some kind of combination of Castlevania, well, specifically Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and Metroid or Super Metroid in this particular case. There is so much that can be said about the genre at large. I am going to talk about my favorite game in the genre that I have played this year, which is Blasphemous. 

Let’s check it out! (Blasphemous – Announcement Trailer | PS4):

Notice the editing on these shots, running right, changing the scene, still running right. It’s the same registry. It’s this great eye trace. Notice the parries, the blocks and the retaliation from the parries. The dash attack is really great.  The finisher moves are a little extra. I really really like the boss battles. They are not the hardest thing in the world. They are not Dark Souls hard…That move right there is so important to defining it as a Metroidvania. Again there’s really crafty finishers and variety. That’s actually really really important special sauce to the game. Wait for it, wait for it… There it is.

It’s a precise kind of Metroidvania:

There’s a lot of things about this trailer that really work well to showcase what’s special about the game. Again some of the other trailers do things a little bit better in some ways — but this one I feel is the best summary of what makes the game exceptionally special. What I personally resonated with the most was to showcase the outstanding characteristics of this precise kind of Metroidvania. We are going to roll back through and process some of those elements. 

The first and foremost thing, I’m not going to go the whole way through the whole trailer. The opening shot was fine. The opening cut scene elements, again were fine. The part that’s really great here is when it gets to this point here: “Explore a forsaken land… ” This is definitive of the Metroidvania genre.

You need to make sure that there is some really good exploration…

Meaning, that you are going to find things that you didn’t know were there. You are going to explore a map that is interconnected. They aren’t overtly stating that here. These are key characteristics of the influence of the genre: the world is cohesively interrelated and you will find special things if you are paying close attention.

They’re showing a diverse array of levels to show that there is a very diverse variety of scenes. By having the associative shots that is implying that you’re going to be using the same verbs to relate to different environments in the same way. “Brutal Pixel-Perfect Combat…

Showcase Parrying!

This is the only trailer that I have found of the game that really showcases the parry. It’s this moment right here: that is a parry where he deflects an enemies’ oncoming attack, which opens them up to vulnerability, which retaliates.

This is a pretty simple thing that exists in the Dark Souls game. It does not, fascinatingly enough exist in any Metroid or Castlevania game that I know of. It is indicative of what makes part of this game particularly special: you are looking for opportunities to deflect attacks and open to brutal executing finishers.

These finishing attacks are not super mechanically important but they are tonally important in establishing that you have a very visceral and bloody relationship with this world.

The curb stomping is a little bit much — (which is the point)

But I think that is part of the style and the spirit of the game. It’s all a little bit much which is meant to be dissociating with some audiences and really reinforcing the attachment to the game to a new audience. It’s using the religious, Catholic iconography of Inquisition era Spain for not just fun but also as a family historical celebration of sorts. 

This “Customize Your Build” line is important to define.

This wasn’t discussed in the other trailers. It’s part of the reason why I wanted to include it here. Customizing and shaping how your character is loaded-out defines the framework of the game at large.

It helps you to understand what your character is doing in relationship to the overarching progression of the game. It’s also important because the way that they show it in the next few shots is by navigating the  menu, showing downward attack, and showing this precise combination as its portrayed with the fully upgraded dash. It’s part of what was fascinating to me, sticking with the game and what I love the most about figuring out there’s different ways of relating to things through the combat. It’s not just a: I’m gonna mash the X button sort of scenario.

“Unveil the Mysteries of Cvstodia”

You are making sense of the lore of the game… as you piece together things that you find, and you read the item descriptions. It’s through the long relationship of playing the game for about 20 hours that it took —t hat you will understand the lore and the mysteries and the subtle associations that happen as you go through the game.

Climax time: ratchet-up intensity!

It’s time to conclude. You are seeing a lot of the characters that you talk to and key elements and flashy flashy gets really fast. Slamming the title and then you have to wait for it, wait for it, wait for it and then show the title screen but still wait for it. That moment was actually in the original Kickstarter trailer as the penultimate moment of the trailer, the climax of the trailer.

The last thing that I want to emphasize about this game and its trailer and genre are just how cohesive it feels in the end. I know that a lot of people got into the hangups of some open pits and some insta-death scenarios — but I would encourage you to roll back through and find the critical path through the game. I think that it does some really incredible preparation in leading up to unlocking the Mysteries of Cvstodia.

~

I’m M. Joshua. I make game trailers. You can find out more about me at mjoshua.com. Great work all around to the Game Kitchen and Team 17. You made my favorite Metroidvania of the year. This has been ‘Is It My Genre?’ Thanks again, Bye Bye.

Find more episodes of ‘Is it My Genre?’ on M Joshua’s YouTube channel.


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