Yes, Blasphemous is a metroidvania, and also a soulslike. The 2D world of Cvstodia is made up of interconnected areas, accessed by the Penitant One gaining new abilities from relics. However, its ability gates are inferior to other metroidvanias.
There isn’t one agreed-upon definition for metroidvania. Though many people will claim their definition is the correct one, there are multiple competing definitions out there. Most of the discussion revolves around the following features:
We can see that Blasphemous may have one inadequacy in its status as a metroidvania: abilities. Let’s look at the relic “Blood Perpetuated in Sand” which creates blood platforms in specific locations, unlocking new pathways. This is a passive ability, and so are all abilities that aid exploration in Blasphemous – they take effect automatically when you are in the right location or situation.
Most metroidvania players expect changes to the actions a character can take. An example in other games is the double jump that unlocks access to high platforms. Blasphemous doesn’t have that, so to some extent it feels like it has “keys and locks” rather than true metroidvania ability gating.
Nonetheless, though ability gates are fundamental to a metroidvania, we believe this is only a grey area for Blasphemous, and in all other respects this 2D soulslike fits any definition of metroidvania. Most fans of Castlevania or Metroid will enjoy Blasphemous greatly, from the top-tier pixel art to the intense boss fights. This is a world — filled with grotesque creatures, ominous architecture, intricate pathways and secrets — that demands you explore it.
The “Is it a Metroidvania?” series so far: