12 August 2017

Story

 Senua, a celtic warrior with severe psychological problems embarks in a search for her lover Dilian that has been taken by the goddess Hela which reigns over Helheim (the Underworld) where only the dead walk.

 But before facing Hela, Senua must fight her way through other norse gods and beasts such as Sul the god of the Fire Giants, Valravn god of illusions and even find the mythical sword named Gram that was forged by Odin.

 

 

 In your journey you'll also come across many Lorestones, these will be narrated by one of the many voices inside Senua's head, his name is Druth and he'll tell you legends of the norse gods and give you a more in-depth view of what's going on inside and around you.

 

 

Visuals and Performance

 Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice has the visuals of a true 2017 game, each environment is unique but never feels out of place in comparison with the others.

  It's performance is fenomenal, with everything maxed out I had around 70fps in calm parts and about 65fps in combat on a mid range machine (gtx 970 and a i5 4570s).

 

 

Gameplay

 Hellblade's gameplay is, what I like to call, a dynamic Hack & Slash. You have your classic light and heavy attack that you can after mix with a dodge, parry, guard break and a sprint variation for each of those that will either greatly damage or heavily stun your foe.

 

 

  I found the gameplay very engaging and anxiety inducing because it is told to you that if you die too many times, the darkness will reach Senua's head and your save game will be reset. I never got to experience this "Reset" because, even if hard at times, the combat is not very punishing.

  So, mix the fear of getting your save game reset with the constant questioning of your actions and demotivation coming from the voices inside Senua's head and you will start to feel a certain unease and discomfort creeping up on you.

 

 

Impressions

 I'm very happy with what Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice became, Ninja Theory did a really good job in making these Viking worlds feel real and tackled the psychological problems of the protagonist like no other game has done before.

 This game must be played with a really good pair of headphones because every little sound will contribute to immerse you in this world. Hellblade uses similar motion capture technology and techniques that were previously introduced by Rockstar's game L.A. Noire. These made Senua move and look real, not like some artificially animated model.

 While it might not seem like a horror game, Hellblade will keep you on edge with the constant talking going on Senua's head and with it's monster/human hybrid enemies. You'll find yourself turning the camera around trying to find what made that small noise that you just heard. You may also get jumpscared by enemies that flank and try to surround you, attacking when you least expect.

 One of the most remarkable horror moments was when I had to navigate in a almost pitch black environment, aided by your hearing you will have to go through a world filled with monsters that are waiting in the dark for you to either bump into them or to make a sound so they can get a hold of you. This particular level got me truly terrified and made me feel as if I was the one that was in danger.

 The horror beauty of the game lies on Senua's mental illness and the twisted worlds that she explores which are decorated with burned, hanged and quartered corpses. When you get deep into Helheim you will also have to navigate through seas of blood and mountains of rotting souls still moaning in pain.

 Hellblade is now my favorite "big" release as of today and is totally worth it's full price. From it's looks to it's gameplay, this game keeps a masterful quality that could only have been achieved with great love and dedication from everyone that worked on it.

 

 

 

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