Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice

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a game by Ninja Theory
Platform: PC
Editor Rating: 8.5/10, based on 2 reviews, 1 review is shown
User Rating: 8.7/10 - 3 votes
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See also: Action Adventure Games, Horror Games, Games Like For Honor, Games Like Bloodborne
Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice
Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice
Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice
Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice

Story rich games are my personal bread and butter. They’re sometimes the most difficult sort of game to pull of effectively without completely sacrificing making the game itself actually fun to play. In general, I don’t mind games that pride themselves on telling an incredibly strong narrative while only being ‘walking simulators’ without many other mechanics. It takes a truly iron-clad narrative to fully showcase the potential of this approach to a game, especially since many players become interested due to the gameplay itself. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is one of the more impressive examples of this approach, especially given the dedication of its developers toward creating a dark, brooding world, that’s faithful to its Norse mythological roots. While it is generally successful overall in creating an in-depth experience, it does tend to toe the line between walking sim and action-adventure/psychological horror that leads to some disappointment if you’ve got the wrong idea.

An Immersive Thriller

To give credit where its due, the fear imbued by Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is intense to say the least. Following Senua on her journey through the Norse version of hell can easily make your rethink your life decisions. Taking story-telling cues from Amnesia but with other narrative elements/voice acting closer to Silent Hill. It’s a visceral journey into madness that feels like it keeps on getting worse. The best part is easily how well the writers adhered to the source material without simply retelling an old, well-known tale. Senua’s journey is anything but stale – all the stakes constantly feel high without being overstated. Plus, the rich atmosphere, combined with the painstaking collaboration the development team went through with neuroscientists to accurately outline the symptoms psychosis makes Hellblade feel that much more real.

It’s a true testament towards dedicated design. The graphics and audio for it are equally impressive and, quite honestly, terrifying. The atmosphere throughout each area is haunting & dark without being impossible to admire/observe and the audio might cause you to whip off your headphones once or twice because you need to check whether something’s actually in your room.

A Bit of Desire

For all the things that Hellblade does incredibly well, the biggest gripe I have with it is that the gameplay is quite weak. Now, I do feel that the horror elements are all there and that could have been left in place. Trying to avoid being caught by enemies would have worked well in itself. The combat, however, takes away some of the horror element in this form due to its simplicity. Given it focus on psychological horror, I found it relatively unfitting even though I think it could have worked out with some tweaks (or removed entirely in favor of stealth/sneaking like in Among the Sleep.

Bottom Line

The puzzles were something I actually took a shine to. Its true that some of them are pretty easy, but I found them to be intuitive, creative, and put into the game to without hampering the storytelling experience. There’s a ton to love in Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice even if the combat somewhat distracts from the core idea.

8

The story is set in a rich world that is undeniably and intricately designed.

Pros:

  • Great atmosphere/graphics/audio
  • Rich story with unique twists and turns
  • Scary, but not so much that it’s a jumpscare fest – deals with real world depictions of mental illness (specifically psychosis)

Cons:

  • Combat felt unnecessary and simple, took away from psychological horror
  • Puzzles were neat, but could have been a bit more in-depth and just a bit more difficult

Download Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice

PC

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

Snapshots and Media

PC Screenshots

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