On Tuesday August 8th Ninja Theory, the developer of Devil May Cry, presented their new Action Game titled – Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice to the world. Until the time of this writing (August 11th) it has received overwhelmingly (88% from 2639) positive reviews on steam and an average score of 82 on Metacritic based on 33 reviews. So what is this game about, and what kind of player may find it enjoyable? Let’s take a look and see for ourselves.
Developed by: Ninja Theory
Published by: : Ninja Theory
Release date: August 8th, 2017
Platforms: PS4, PC
Price at launch: $29.99 (USD)
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice Review
In the past, Ninja Theory has been known for its dedication to art design, cultural background, and presentation, but their games often suffer from playability and level design. However, in Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, they finally figured out how to keep the balance between the two. By focusing on their strong points, Hellblade: SS is a unique and touching experience that is fantastically memorable. The story, the world setting and ideas shine to make you want to ignore any shortcoming it has and keep on playing until the sun has long been set.
Story and Setting – An Adventure in the Viking Era
Throughout the game, players will follow in the steps of Senua, a female Pickett warrior to the homeland of Vikings. You will get the chance to experience the amazing culture, an impressive atmosphere, and gradually learn the story behind the Senua and, once learned, cannot help but root for her. Who doesn’t pull for the underdog?
Mythology (Norse) forged the background and theme of this adventure, but unlike the God of War series for example, where you played as an indestructible badass, in Hellblade: SS your character is just a normal human, suffering from mental illness and PTSD. Sunua hears strange sounds and crazy voices inside her mind that are always haunting her. But all these fit the atmosphere and the plot perfectly, because the more you play Hellblade the more you begin to understand the meaning it wishes to show you and appreciate the developer’s creativity. This is hands down one of the most unique and greatest things about the game.
Gameplay – When Game Meets Psychology
Since the game lets you play a normal human, there are not many “epic” battles on par with God of War, Dark Souls or Devil May Cry. Yes, there are Viking warriors and other kinds of enemies, but the focus of this game is not the combat system, the real enemy is fear itself. Brilliant cinematography was used in Hellblade: SS, combined with symbolic visuals and a talented art style, that make players really EXPERIENCE the pain through Senua herself, which is an achievement to say the least. Although Ninja Theory uses a lot of flashbacks, the story remains fluent and easy to comprehend, which is in itself amazing if you are at all familiar with Ninja Theory. However, if you just want to play and don’t pay very good attention to the story, the combat lacks variety and may become boring after several hours of playing. Despite this, Hellblade: SS is still ultimately satisfying, even if less so.
Aside from the captivating story and its intriguing narrative, there are not many other elements to Hellblade: SS. There are no equipment systems, and the lack of combat variety reduces its replayability from what it could have been. Puzzles exist, and they are well crafted, but quite straight forward and there are always hints in Senua’s Hallucinations if you get stuck. That does not mean Hellblade is an empty game, there are some really well thought-out collection tasks, and considering the price of the game I’d say it actually provides more than they promised (and what many other developers may offer at a higher price).
Audio and Visual – Fitting and Satisfying
One might think, as an mid level project from an Indie developer, Hellblade: SS might not have the graphics of a triple A production, but clearly Ninja Theory cleverly put their resources to best use. What we are seeing right now is a realistic world with beautiful art designs and visual effects. The strange voices inside Senua’s mind, the hallucinations, the background music and sound effects fit the story and the world setting so perfectly that your emotions are completely entangled within her. There are minor issues, like the character’s clothing did not get wet after coming out of the water for example, but none of them will prevent you from being immersed into the atmosphere Hellblade creates. On criteria of audio and visual effects, this game is surely a work of art, and can satisfy some of the most fickle players.