Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice
Release date: 4/11/2018
Price: $29.99 USD
Developer: Ninja Theory LTD
Publisher: Ninja Theory LTD
Heavily inspired by Norse mythology and the Celtic culture. You take on the role of Senua, a Pict warrior suffering from psychosis. Who is traveling through Helheim in order to rescue the soul of her dead lover. This world where Sanua travels is a place of eternal conversations between voices in her head that have good and bad intentions. They are a constant reminder of danger, whether they warn us of it or not, depends on who is speaking.
The player is thrust straight into this story, there is no tutorial or waypoints to guide your way, the player must learn on their feet. This can be a challenge in the first fights as you must learn to defend yourself quickly without prior guidance.
Simple gameplay, with more logic than action, this game may fit a very specific type of gamer. The puzzles can be frustrating. You must prepare yourself for the possibility that you may lose all game progress after dying too many times.
This loss may be a negative to anyone who is a fan of being able to pick up from where you left off but this does add to the groundhog day nature of Sanua's mental health. Seeming more like a thoughtful decision by Ninja Theory to keep the player in her mindset, rather than discourage you from continuing.
The visuals in this game can be brutal. Sometimes you are not sure if what you saw was really there. The developers have managed to create visual illusions and areas which shift quickly. All of which add to the confusion, giving a very intense feel, which some gamers may find too much for long periods of time.
Dealing with psychosis is a controversial issue, however, Ninja Theory has handled it with respect and intelligence. The game can be quiet in terms of music and environmental sounds, however, all this does is increase the dominance of the voices chattering as Sanua travels. While also keeping the pressure on the player to keep moving forward to Helheim, despite what you are being told.
Few games will make you empathize or connect with a character like Sanua. Brought to life by the beautiful Melina Juergens. She is a tragic, strong figure that has been wonderfully animated and her emotions seem so genuine and real.
Wearing your headset will only intensify the feelings. This title relies on incredible voice acting to bring it truly to life, its motion-captured cutscenes are stunning as well as haunting, but is crucial to the journey.
Rated M, this is definitely a game for those with the maturity to handle the themes. The darkness Sanua is surrounded in can be too much after a while. I myself need a break after a couple of hours. This game's storyline can devastate you as much as it entertains. Leaving you feeling some complicated emotions.
This title is an experience but if you are looking for something that offers character progression or the chance to gain new abilities or skills, this won’t give you that, Sanua stays largely the same throughout. Instead, it tests both your skill and mental capacity as it pits you against manifestations of Senua's psychosis and the gods of her faith in the single player.
This combination of Gods and psychosis works incredibly well for a game that wants its player to think. Throughout my travels, I began to question many elements, I believe that Sanua is not our avatar but instead we are one of the many voices urging her on, controlling her actions, leading her into danger or saving her.
This is not a long story, expect maybe 9-10 hours of total gameplay. For the price of $29.99, I feel it is too short and wanted to see more. It is worth the journey, although you will be unlikely to play it more than once unless you are an achievement hunter.
In the end, this game will leave you wondering, what was reality and what was imagination, were there really gods, or were we just seeing the hallucinations of Sanua as she could no longer fight her own darkness?
Down the dark path we walk...
A world where nothing is what it seems and shadows move on their own, Hellblade: Sanuas Sacrifice is a Celtic look into a persons mental health that may be too intense for some.