Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice Review

Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice, Senua, review, 2017 games, adventure
Senua holding her lover's head

Hellblade is a story-driven adventure into the thrilling experience of Senua, a young Celtic warrior on a quest to recover her dead lover. The most unique feature of the story is Senua’s psychosis, which causes her to hear voices and constantly struggle with her grasp on reality. Senua’s lover, Dillion, was sacrificed by Vikings to Hella, the norse goddess of death, and to have him released Senua must take Dillion’s head to Hella and bargain with her.

The game is very engaging in a story/puzzle sort of way, and provides the player with a unique perspective into a mind plagued by hallucinations and voices.

The size, look and feel of each map vary with every level. Hellblade offers a new, unexpected experience each time you progress in the game. For example, during one part of the story you must navigate through complete darkness, avoiding eerie creatures and relying only on Dillion’s voice for guidance.

The enemies Senua encounters and must defeat are figures from norse mythology: giants, ravens, gods and other entities. There are 4 bosses in total, the final one being Hela, the goddess of death.
The game is pretty linear and can be finished in as little as 6 hours, depending on how much you die and how long it takes you to solve each puzzle. However, the developers have done a decent job of fitting the entire narrative into this relatively brief time period.

Throughout the game, Senua relies on her deceased friend and mentor, Druth, for help and valuable information. After choosing to live in the wilderness as a “Geilt” (a person traumatized and cursed by war) in hopes that she would purify herself from her psychosis, she meets Druth. A wanderer and outcast like herself, Druth tells Senua about his life as a slave of the northmen and all he knew about their mythology. The other two characters Senua interacts with are her deceased mother and father, each having played a role in shaping her personality, her hopes and fears as she grew up.

Hellblade does not feature a weapon or armor system per se. Senua retains the same outfit/armor throughout the game, and only changes weapons once Hela breaks her sword and Senua is forced to find a new one. This, however, does not diminish the fun and excitement of the combat.

Senua's impressive combat skills

While combat only takes up a minor portion of the game, it can be immersive and tense as there is no hud, forcing you to rely on your instincts. Senua’s voices often assist her by offering quick advice, such as shouting “Behind you!”. The enemies are relatively easy to beat on almost all difficulty modes, and you’re rarely facing more than 2-3 enemies at once.

Ninja Theory have taken extra care to make the sound experience believable and realistic for players. In order to portray Senua’s voices as well as possible, actors were recorded at varying distances to produce a binaural audio effect. Play the game with your headphones on, it’s worth it!

There are only a small number of NPCs to keep track of during the game, which is somewhat of a relief since we are already tackling the vast amounts of confusion in Senua’s world. All the side characters have crucial roles in the story though, and are vital to our understanding of Senua herself and the difficulties she is facing.
The amazing thing about Senua’s world is how much thought was put into creating her ever-changing reality. Being able to experience all this from her perspective is a real treat, and shows us how the world can be seen from an altogether different perspective. Moreover, Senua’s own character design is amazing, particularly her realistic facial expressions which let you fully empathize with her and understand what she is feeling.

For an indie game with an amazing story and stunning graphics, $29.99 is a totally fair price.

Pros
⦁ Original, immersive story
⦁ Great visuals
⦁ Huge attention to detail
⦁ Awesome character design
⦁ Excellent sound effects

Cons
⦁ Very few battles, mostly not very challenging
⦁ Directions unclear at times, leaving you unsure of what you’re supposed to do
⦁ Permadeath feature does not work
⦁ Not much explanation about the main character or her quest until late in the game
⦁ Game is short - only 6 to 8 hours of gameplay

Final verdict: 8/10

A vampire, a hitman, thief, warlock, saviour of the galaxy. I have lived all those lives and more. This is why gaming is my biggest passion and always will be!
Gamer Since: 1994
Currently Playing: The Last of Us
Top 3 Favorite Games:Mass Effect, Star Wars: Battlefront, Fallout: New Vegas
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