HellBlade : Senua's Sacrifice
My Experience With HellBlade
Hellblade begins with our hero Senua paddling a boat through a river of corpses. A storm of voices fills you in, About the journey, we're about to take. I say "WE" because the experience given to you by Hellblade, can't be felt without Senua. The darkness of Senua's mental illness is the overall theme of the game. Gripping you in a twisted and dark compelling coming of age story through a psychotic world manifested by her mind.
Her struggles of growing up in a time where doctors or scientist didn't exist. A time her mental health issues are unfortunately perceived as a curse and she is branded as a gelt. ( a man or woman who has been driven mad by a curse, battle trauma or grief) Senua escapes into the wilds seeking redemption for reasons I won't spoil. HellBlade is a game about mental illness, Ninja Theory has built a world based on the conditions of disillusions and Hallucinations making Senua the center of our study.
The Hallucinations that are portrayed throughout HellBlade are methodically intertwined with puzzle solving. Matching Celtic Symbols with different shapes in the foreground. Illusions of passages appearing and disappearing, you have to pay attention to find your way around. Imploring exploration of the very few, but beautifully rendered environments of Senua's mind. Which is richly rewarded, as you meet various ghost from her past and learn the history of the Gods that control Senua's life.
Top Notch Acting
Ninja Theory indistinctly meshes interactions with Senua & live performers in HellBlade. You have distinguishable actors like Steven Hartley who Played the King of the Wild Hunt Eredin, in The Witcher 3. Opposite Melina Jeurgens who is an actual employee of Ninja Theory, and starting in her first role. The performances are amplified by a unique use of binaural audio, a recording technique that uses two microphones to stimulate sound into a three-dimensional space. The method projects the voices to your ears just like if you could hear them right next to you. Delivering a very creepy and sometimes disturbing experience through out HellBlade.
Hellblade As a Whole
HellBlade likes to make you believe you're in control but always pulls a 180 to confuse you with illusions. Helplessly making you lose your grasp of the stage. You can easily get lost, while you get mocked by voices. That will continue if you can't figure out the puzzle or fail miserably to defeat an opponent. HellBlade installs a stark fear of permadeath, you're given a few chances to die. If The darkness that infects Senua's arm reaches her head.
It's game over...and your progress will be deleted... It may sound to hardcore, but the game can be easily beaten in 5 to 6 hours, That's if you're going to explore every nook of HellBlade. On my Second playthrough, I managed to beat HellBlade in about 4 hours, And even though it has nothing new to offer for the second time around. I felt The story flesh its self the more you play. Her Flash Backs and hallucinations strike epiphanies as you start to connect the dots to the ending of the game. It felt like reading a novel backward... that funny enough made sense.
The neurosis of Combat in HellBlade can be overwhelming, especially so when you're cornered by multiple enemies later in the game.
Heart Wrenching Combat
You can't upgrade skills to give you a leg up on enemies because you really don't need new skills. Senua's offensive is fast and if you learn to timely block enemy attacks. Her counter becomes impenetrable. You have light attacks and heavy attacks which you can mix to make combos. You have a kick attack to stumble shielded enemies and a defensive stance that even prevents heavy damage from powerful attacks. There is an upgrade to your sword in the latter half of the game, Which offers a new move for tactical advantages in later battles. If you keep your distances and wits about you the battles aren't that difficult. You're even thrown tips during boss battles... you just need to keep your ears open.
I played the game on hard on my first play-thru and then switched the option to auto on my second play-thru. Which made me feel like a bad ass but was still caught by surprise attacks. As I said keep your ears alert, enemies grunt before they attack and you can easily follow up with a counter. HellBlade gives you the skills enough to survive but it's not there to cradle you. Even with a limited set of moves, battles are spread out gracefully throughout the game and, every Boss encounter is memorable with pulse riveting events.
Stuck on a rock
Is HellBlade Worth the Time?
Still, HellBlade isn't a perfect game, I found at least three glitches, that forced me to skip back to the main menu and load my auto save file. Which only took a minute due to exceptional load times. Thankfully because I switched to 60 fps, I noticed a slight difference in speed in gameplay, It's available for ps4 pro users. Which is nice for console Gamers like myself. Yet, You sometimes which you could do more in the game.
It feels isolating and barren but those are also its strengths. You feel the loneliness and weakness that comes with Senua's sacrifice. For a thirty dollar game, it's really great. Ninja theory had a lot to prove with this mid size triple AAA title. Or more correctly Double AA Title, And I hope the game industry follows their lead and starts offering us games with strong story campaigns like Hellblade at half the usual price and no micro-transactions. Hellblade can be played on Ps4 and PC and its well worth every dollar, GO buy it now!
© 2017 AR Somoza