In a time where open world games are saturating the market, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice comes in and demonstrates how fantastic a shorter and more linear game experience can still be. The story is one of darkness, beauty and mystery. It’s incredibly raw and original. It grips you from the start and simply refuses to let go.
Gamers take the role of Senua, a celtic warrior who is on a personal journey that is incredibly unique, terrifying and is unlike any game before it. The closest reference I can even use to compare it to is Eternal Darkness. You’ll be exploring an absolutely hellish world where nothing is like it seems and players will struggle to decipher between what are hallucinations and reality.
Ninja Theory are the masterminds behind this masterpiece and they have certainly put a lot of passion and time into this incredible gaming experience. For the absolute best immersion, players are recommended to utilize headphones to truly capture the binaural audio that is a true game changer. While progressing through Senua’s journey, she is tormented by voices that condemn, question, threaten and praise her.
The music score and outstanding voice work only further fuel the immersion and impact that comes from playing Hellblade. Rarely do you see audio used in such a compelling way in games. The visuals are another true highlight and the dark and gritty world bursts with vivid detail. We played through this on the PS4 Pro, which Ninja Theory wisely implemented multiple modes. One is for enhanced resolution and the second option enables 60 frames per second for those wanting the smoothest experience possible. Cinematic scenes are yet another example where Ninja Theory took an artistic unique approach and pulled it off brilliantly. Without spoiling anything, they are different than you might expect, but keep you immersed in the experience when going back to gameplay.
All the hallucinations, psychosis and terror you’ll experience are made possible through the fantastic pairing of excellent visuals and nightmarish audio cues. There also is no HUD. This was done to make sure you are intensely focused on every little detail that you are seeing and hearing. It builds intense tension and will no doubt produce the anxiety and panic that Senua struggles with. In other words, it’s a frightening good time.
The campaign consists of combat, puzzle solving and exploration. Each fight will require the player to quickly parry, dodge and when there is opening, utilize a light or heavy attack. These battles can quickly become intense as there is a real and serious consequence at stake. If you die too many times, gamers will face a steep price, which is their saved game. I luckily never experienced this, but this makes you weigh in and truly focus throughout the entire campaign. It’s a gutsy move by Ninja Theory, but it certainly works in this experience and made it that much more personal and satisfying to complete.