In memoriam, Donald Sutherland

Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice

Moby ID: 94033
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Description official description

Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice draws inspiration from Celtic and Norse mythology to tell the story of Senua, a young woman and a Celtic warrior. The game mixes hack-and-slash action sequences with environment-based puzzle-solving and story sequences in equal measure. She suffers from psychosis, which causes her to hear voices, see illusions and often live in constant fear. Next to her mental illness there is also a darkness that haunts her, a source of power, but also something that affects and is shared by family members such as her father and mother, and her lover Dillion.

Almost all game elements and the way the story is told tie into the effects of psychosis, which was researched and implemented into the game with the support of both professionals in psychiatry and people who have experienced psychosis. Next to different voices that provide narration and play tricks with her mind, Senua is constantly surrounded by different voices talking through each other using different positioning with binaural audio recording. They also provide warnings during fights, for instance to announce an incoming blow out of view. The fighting only takes place in fixed locations against one or multiple enemies. Senua uses two types of attack, light and heavy, that can be strung into combos. There is an action to block and dodge, as well as a short focus attack that charges gradually and briefly slows down time, allowing her to do a lot of damage. Running can be done to approach quickly and launch additional attacks. Due to the shoulder-view close to the camera a lot of combat tactics are based around positioning and quickly switching between targets, optionally by locking on to them.

Many of the environments contain puzzles that need to be solved. There are gates that require runes to be located by finding their shapes in the environment, a sensation experienced by some patients when real life turns into a puzzle with rules and patterns. There are also illusions that permanently affect the environment, for instance by aligning Senua's sight to position loose pieces as a bridge. Other elements include light and darkness and portals with illusions. Optionally additional runes can be located to hear stories from Norse mythology.

The game is hudless. Enemies that are hit show damage through their bodies and composure, as well as their affected fighting style. The same applies to Senua. She can be knocked down a few times before dying. The game incorporates a rot system that grows slowly on her arm with each death. The game warns the player that once the rot reaches her head, the results will be permanent.

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Credits (Windows version)

201 People (119 developers, 82 thanks) · View all

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 85% (based on 31 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.7 out of 5 (based on 38 ratings with 1 reviews)

It's good. Now go into it blind.

The Good
Hellblade is the kind of game that I think of when people talk about if video games can be considered art. There's so much to take in during this whole game; the story, the visuals, and even the audio is incredible. If you haven't played it, I HIGHLY recommend going into it knowing as little as possible.

I don't know how to explain this game without spoiling a bit, but I will make an attempt.

You start the game as a woman showing up at an island while you can hear voices saying encouraging and discouraging things to her. You can tell that she hears the voices in her head, and she does for the whole game. The first impression you get from Senua might be that she is a bit "crazy," but you start to understand her and her mental state. Senua suffers from psychosis, and from what I've read online (from people claiming to have psychosis or share the symptoms), they portray it accurately. There are people that argue that the game isn't accurate enough, but there were researches of mental illness working on the game, so I think I'll assume it's as accurate as it can be. Regardless, the game still sheds some light on mental illness, so hopefully the people who play it can begin to understand how hard it is to live with them.

The story is a little hard to follow, but it's still very well-written. I won't say much, but Senua's goals are clear-- although it's difficult to be sure if she'll reach them. It's also sometimes hard to tell what's real and what isn't, because of her psychosis. I went into this thinking that all of the unrealistic things (the enemies, gods, etc.) were there just because of the fantasy setting, but then I started to question how much of what she experienced was even real in her world. Even after the game ended, it had me wondering what will happen to her now that her adventure is over?

There is an interesting part of this game that I like that many people don't. They tell you that there are limited lives. They tell you upfront at the beginning of the game, and it made it really scary to play. At first, I liked fighting since the combat felt solid and enjoyable. However, as the battles got harder, my heart would start to race when she pulled out her sword. People complain about it because they're bad at video games. I loved the thought of losing my save from dying too much because it adds a very unique horror element.

The Bad
Not much, to be honest. It did run poorly a lot, but that was probably my pc's fault.

The Bottom Line
It's a good game, go play it. I won't say anything about it.

Windows · by sinisterhippo (23) · 2019

Trivia

Awards

  • The Game Awards
    • 2017 – Best Narrative – Nominated
    • 2017 – Best Audio Design – Won
    • 2017 – Best Performance: Melina Juergens as Senua – Won
    • 2017 – Games for Impact – Won
    • 2017 – Best Independent Game – Nominated
  • Steam Awards
    • 2017 — The 'Soul of Vitruvius' Award — Nominated

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  • MobyGames ID: 94033
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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by mars_rulez.

Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Windows Apps added by Kam1Kaz3NL77. Xbox Cloud Gaming added by Sciere. Xbox Series added by Kamil Grodecki.

Additional contributors: Sciere, Havoc Crow.

Game added August 8, 2017. Last modified March 15, 2024.