Hellblade: Senua’s Saga is celebrating it’s fifth birthday today as it was originally released for PC and PS4 on August 5th, 2017. The game would eventually make its way to Xbox and Switch a year later.
Hellblade was developed by a small team of twenty people at Ninja Theory and has become one of the most celebrated indie games of all time due to its impressive presentation, narrative, acting, and more.
The game deals with themes of psychosis and mental health. Senua, the games main character, believe she is cursed and hears voices in her head. The voices tell Senua what to do and also speak directly to the player, creating an eery sense of immersion that is wholly unique to the game.
Ninja Theory was of course acquired by Xbox in 2018 and announced a sequel to Hellblade, Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II, in 2019. The game seems to be expanding on the themes of the first game and appears to be benefiting from an increased budget.
The original Hellblade is available now on Game Pass and is an absolute must play. There is nothing quite like the game on the market today, so if you’re interested in experiencing an incredibly unique game, now is a perfect to jump in.
I thought Hellblade was a really good game and also an interesting exercise in how to achieve AAA graphics and sound on a smaller budget by simplifying in other areas-- level design, combat system, enemy variety, environmental interactions, etc. That’s not a criticism btw, the combat and gameplay though simple were exactly what the game needed to convey the story and experience that it was trying to tell.
But I’m curious where they go from here with a higher budget sequel. Expand the environments and make them more interactive? Deepen the combat gameplay? The narrow scope of Hellblade 1 kind of felt right in step with Senua’s perception and experience (like the entire game feeling like it takes place within 6 feet of Senua’s face) so if it becomes an open-world action title does it still feel like Hellblade? Or do they keep the tight scope of where Senua can go and what she can do, but ramp up the cinematic presentation and motion capture to 11? I’m just kind of musing here. It’s going to be a super interesting sequel whichever way they go.
Purchased it for PS4 Pro at release. Overall, great game. 8.0/10 for me. Just hope the combat has more depth to it in the sequel and that the puzzles are better. Hated the shadow puzzles in the first game.
Purchased it on Xbox One X at release, but never went beyond Chapter 3. I don’t remember what titles pulled me away. I finally finished Ryse last week so I know I’ll finish this one eventually, I just need to get it back into my rotation.
I was intrigued by the game since its inception, when it was still a Sony exclusive. I was jealous it was exclusive, to be honnest.
It was impressive what they were doing with atmosphere and focusing heavily on Senua’s expressiveness with help of motion capture. The game looked so good in the trailers that I doubted it would looked that good at release. It was even before knowing their budget constraints and struggles as an independant studio.
It’s a game like no other. I’m still a bit mixed about the whole experience, but the themes and how it all blend together with gameplay, audio, and puzzles is something I have never experienced before. It’s like you’re in Senua’s head and it can be hard to even play it as a video game sometimes.
This is one of those games that you really have to be in the mood for and I just haven’t taken the time for it yet. I did play until you get to do some fighting, but never continued with it. One of these days, for sure.
Headphones mandatory ! Without headphones you miss a big chunk of the atmosphere. I also dislike the combat. When I played it, I wish it would be a walking sim or something similar to Outcast. Still a good game and I’m looking forward to play the sequel.
Elaborate, please. Headphones if the alternative is TV speakers? Or would you say people with good sound systems should also do headphones?
I play in my home theater, and normally I would never consider headphones, but I’ve read the sound design in this game is something on another level, and so if headphones is the optimal way to listen to it I may have to make an exception.
Because voices have been recorded by a binaural microphone, so you hear exactly what you would hear if someone talked close to your ear. It’s like extremly precise 3D audio. It even has silicon ears strapped to the two entries so it’s really accurate. It works really really well, but you need headphones for it to be effective.
I’m also a complete chicken when it comes to horror experiences (games and movies) so I may end up ditching the headphones in an attempt and not getting too worked up, but I’ll definitely give it a try.
Yeah, it could be a bit overwhelming, but it really adds something to the experience as voices are used to help you, guide you and make you feel like you’re in Senua’s head. They are not used in a scary way.
If you don’t like it you can go back to speakers, but I think you should try it, to get the feeling. It’s really well done.