Blasphemous Developers Talk About The Sources Of Its Horrifying Religious Imagery

By Joel Couture . August 11, 2017 . 4:00pm

Blasphemous casts players out into a world where the faithful of a religious order mean to bring  about their bloody end. As the Penitent One, players will have to fight back against twisted religious figures and sickening beings that look like holy art come to horrifying life, using their blade and cunning to overcome this fanatical group.

Siliconera spoke with the game’s art director to learn more about the religious iconography that birthed these monstrosities, and how real world practices and cultures had come to form the discomforting world of Blasphemous.

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What drew you to hack n’ slash after your successful work in adventure games with The Last Door?

Enrique Cabeza, Art Director & Designer for Blasphemous – After The Last Door, a lot of the team members left the studio. There were no more artist or designers besides me, so I started to practice and improve my artistic skills and, after some time, the idea of a platformer came out. After that, the team started to grow again, and we continue working on that idea and we love it more every day.

What thoughts went into creating your own religion? A religion that would have so much power in the world?

That inspiration came from our southern Spanish folklore, holy week, and religious imagery. We have grown up with those powerful images and concepts, and we had the idea of using that in a video game, but twisting and changing stuff to not use the exact same elements, and to bring an original and unique theme into the game.

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You have mentioned that Blasphemous‘ world would tell much of its story. What work goes into making the environments and landscapes tell a tale? In creating a world as a storyteller?

Our challenge is to give Blasphemous a variety of narrative layers. Several layers will be within the art itself, in the design of every element. Players who are particularly curious can dig down and find stuff that could be more hidden.

Twisted versions of religious iconography form many of the game’s enemies. What ideas go into these versions of holy images?

As the team has grown up here in Seville, a very old city with a very long religious history, seeing this powerful religious iconography, we somehow understand how disturbing and shocking it might be for outsiders (or even for locals). We wanted to keep that powerful feeling. In real life, there are a lot of traditions that remain disturbing and very shocking, like the flagellant processions in the Philippines where people hurt themselves with sharp and pointed whips, covering their whole body in blood. Those traditions exist in real life and they don’t need to be twisted or exaggerated to be shocking enough.

Our design goal is to create unique elements that remind players of real life disturbing traditions, means of punishment from different periods of history, etc, because a lot of them are deep in people’s cultures. Of course, this is not a game against religion, but a game that is inspired by the iconography, atmosphere, elements, and feelings that are related to Christianity and our local folklore in southern Spain.

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What ideas go into creating some of these creatures’ combat abilities? How do you design attacks that feel natural for many of your more bizarre creatures?

We still are in a early development stage and it is too soon to be able to talk about combat mechanics. Right now we, are just using our instincts to start introducing stuff to the audience, but we are going to start working on those mechanics as soon as possible.

You talk about a sense of pleasure coming from every movement in combat. How do you design a fighting system that players will deeply enjoy? What are the nuances of it?

It’s hard to explain. As developers and players ourselves, we believe that what is called “game feel” is a very important part in a game. You can describe “game feel” in many ways, and maybe every developer describe it differently. I would say that, for me, “game feel” is the pleasure in the interaction with the game. If I feel that the game feels good – it is responsive and intuitive -  the game has a good “game feel”. We want to achieve that pleasure when players move the character, jump, fight, or explore the levels. It’s a very difficult challenge because a lot of subjective factors are involved and it requires a lot of iteration and constant feedback. 


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