From the makers of Heavenly Sword, Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, and DmC: Devil May Cry, comes a warrior’s brutal journey into myth and madness.
Set in the Viking age, a broken Celtic warrior embarks on a haunting vision quest into Viking Hell to fight for the soul of her dead lover.
Created in collaboration with neuroscientists and people who experience psychosis, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice will pull you deep into Senua’s mind.
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It is honestly one of those games you have to experience for yourself. I will warn you that this game explores mental illness and death but it does it in a thoughtful and considered way. You can tell that the developers spent a great deal of time researching these topics, treating the subject matter with the respect it deserves.
I personally enjoyed my time with Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice but I understand why for some this game is not for them. Not only does focus on serious subject matter but the gameplay is rather limited. There is a small amount of puzzle solving and combat but for the most part, you are just joining Senua on her through the underowrld. However at the end of the day, it is the story that Hellblade wants to tell that is the focus of the game.
Overall, I think that Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice acheieves what it sets out to do- tell the story of a celtic warrior who struggles to come to terms with her psychosis. If you are looking for a unique gaming experience that explores a subject rarely looked at within entertainment media, then I highly recommend you play Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice.
Was willing to like this, but ended up dissatisfied. If you want a quick byline, the walking speed is too slow. This game would have been better paced at a tighter 4 hours, but at the 8-10 hours to which the game is stretched, there isn't enough to sustain it.
Normally I like both character action games and introspective, metaphorical walking simulators. So I was disappointed that this game annoyed me on both fronts by the end of it.
Gameplay wise, the combat lacks depth, and feels like an aside from the environmental puzzle solving. There are some neat concepts here that play with perspectives and real-time level changes. The graphics are detailed enough to make their design subtle to the point of confusion at times, (in a good way!). I also like that there is a plot / character reason for why these puzzles function the way they do. Unfortunately, the character's low movement speed, even at a jog, creates too much distance between when the player conceives of a step and when they can execute the next action. This in effect had me holding down the run button for every part of the game that would let me, which is tiring and makes everything feel more tedious.
However, the game lost me after the half-way mark when it introduced levels with such gimmicks as "it is too dark to see but you must stealth-mosey past monsters or die instantly" and "run from an un-seeable terror in a maze or die instantly". Such level designs betray a lack of confidence on the developer's parts that their game isn't interesting enough just to walk through and explore, and have to include the threat of a cheap death to keep the player engaged. Which is a shame, because the story is compelling the more of it is revealed.
Without spoilers, this game is metaphorically about mental illness. The game says so on the boot screen that great care was taken to research the experience of psychosis for this game's depiction. As such, not everything in the game is as it first appears. I'm all for a good twisty plot with a surprising ending, but this game is too ambiguous right through to the credits to get full marks. And I don't mean that it should have spelled out exactly what the metaphors stand for, what was real and what was not. There is simply too little context given early enough to ground us in Senua's experiences to take the revelations literally, and not enough effort made to establish what level of metaphor the game is working with so players can determine connections themselves on a first play-through.
Altogether, my overall impression of this game is confusion. There's real effort on display here from more than one aspect of the project, but to what end? It is so committed to its messaging, environment, and aesthetic so as to sacrifice playability as a video game, but does not invite the player along to understand enough of Senua's experience to feel justified. There just isn't enough substance provided to spark my curiosity for attempting a deeper analysis.
In my scoring system, 2 stars is an average game, so 1.5 stars is about a C-. Its short enough I think many people will get something out of their time with it, but it probably won't be very fun or thought-provoking. Recommended to people who want an easy suspense horror experience, or fans of I Spy Letters books.
A really interesting concept executed mostly well, and a compelling argument for increased focus with a lower budget.
The combat dragged in the back half but it's simple enough to push through; the story and animation are what shine here and the little making-of feature on the main menu does a good job of putting the game and a lot of its aspects into proper context. In that sense it's a really impressive achievement. Sound design is absolutely top shelf too - the recommendation to wear headphones is a good one, and it goes a lot of the way to making the experience more compelling and immersive.