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Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice

Ahead of our podcast later this year, Paul Brown reviews Ninja Theory’s Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice

“There is a space I want us to fill. Common wisdom says that this space doesn’t exist. I’m calling this space Independent AAA.”

– Tameem Antoniades, Chief Creative Ninja and co-founder of Ninja Theory.

SPOILER WARNING!

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is Ninja Theory’s (NT) attempt to slot neatly into the newly invented trench between ‘Independent’ and ‘Triple A’ games. The aim: to deliver a Triple A experience for a cheaper price, all whilst on a relatively strict budget. During 2014’s Game Developers Conference, NT arrived to discuss its history with games: the struggles the team had persisted through, especially financially; the games they’ve released (Kung Fu Chaos, Heavenly Sword, Enslaved, DmC: Devil May Cry) as well as titles they’ve had to walk away from. The main bulk of the presentation was pitching their aim to straddle the divide between small independent company and bank busting blockbuster game developer; wherein they can potentially find good sales from a smaller budget and without the pressures of a ‘big time’ publisher looking over their shoulder.

Tameem explained that they will not be heading down the Kickstarter route as he feels there’s enough resource there through loans, grants and merchandise etc, for NT to develop games fully on their own. This explains the ‘independenti side of things. Tameem then goes on to reveal that he’s open to publishers who are interested in NT’s titles to assist with funding, advertising and releasing the games; placing smaller bets on niche IPs with an eye on smaller profits. NT’s end goal is to sell the ‘AAA experience’ for “the price of a DVD movie”. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never bought a DVD priced at £24.99 (Maybe a 4K UHD Blu-ray – Ed). Still, it’s not 50 quid! I found the presentation to be an interesting read, here is the link if you’re curious to take in the whole thing.

Sony approached NT with the proposition that NT may showcase their announcement of Hellblade at Sony’s Gamescom press conference with a quick teaser trailer. NT have made a short video diary detailing this part of development which you can watch here.

From there the game was released on August 8th, 2017 for the PS4 and PC. Hellblade has since been released on Xbox One on April 11th 2018, a version which is also optimised for Xbox One X with enhanced features. Good for those Achievement hunters – this is the first and so far only game I have on my PlayStation 4 in which I have unlocked the Platinum trophy.

The trailer upon release gave the impression that this was a graphically impressive game. Senua herself looked incredibly detailed with convincingly emotional facial animation. I struggled to properly understand the narrator’s deep and gravelly voice without plugging in earphones to catch what was being said properly. I’m not entirely sure this was intentional, but it worked in the trailers favour as parts of it were intended to tout the games use of binaural sound.

Senua’s mind is under incessant harassment from the voices in her head, and this is portrayed to the player through the three-dimensional binaural sound during the game. I enjoyed this in the trailer however, the first time playing the game I was not aware that I could plug earphones into my controller and set all the audio into that output and so missed out on that part entirely. In all honesty, I didn’t even know this the second time I attempted the game until about halfway through when I was listening to a review and it was revealed to me. Turns out that plugging earphones into a controller is common knowledge.

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Hellblade was met with high praise upon release with an 82% average review score. The graphics score highly throughout the sea of reviews available, this game looks immense. According to several reviews, it starts to lose points on other subjects such as story, gameplay and the odd game-breaking glitch. Hellblade went on to win several awards including an impressive five BAFTAs.

I recall thoroughly enjoying my first play through. If I worked for one of the sites that reviewed games early I probably have thrown 9s or 10s at it. Having now played the game a second time, would I feel as positively towards it?

Hello, who are you? …it doesn’t matter. Welcome.

– Narrator

I played the game again all the way up to when Senua falls from the bridge down to the beach before finding out I could play the game with earphones plugged into the controller and not have to sit a foot from the TV to experience the binaural effect. So I did what any sane man would do, and started all over again.

Already a bit annoyed with myself I restarted the game and listened out. My experience changed as I could clearly hear the voices that Senua had been experiencing. As the voices start to kick in the credit for Mental Health Advisor appears at the same time; just in case you weren’t aware of what the game was going for.

In a tree-trunk canoe, Senua, a credulous young warrior, paddles her way up a river with the aim to get to Hel. The ‘breathing’ skull she carries on her belt is her deceased lover Dillion and she believes wholeheartedly that his soul was sacrificed to Hela, the Goddess in Hel, and so Senua must approach Hela to win back Dillion’s soul and bring her lover back to life; even if it means her own demise.

The visuals in this game look fantastic; although the character models of the corpses Senua passes in this opening section repeat several times, bringing me out of immersion somewhat.

After landing on shore, I came across the first of the stone runes with an old Nordish looking symbol on it; it reveals that Senua left Orkney for this voyage. Her dress sense and painted features suggest she is of Celtic origin and the likelihood is that the ‘Northmen’ were Vikings invading the Orkney and Shetland Isles, North of the mainland of Scotland. I think I would enjoy Senua more had she been Scottish, however Melina Juergens plays the Celtic warrior well enough that I could forgive the accent. Melina gives her a predominantly soothing English accented voice. Her acting is certainly pushed during the game as she transitions extremes of mood from calm, collected and soothing to screaming and volatile grunting throughout the game.

The voice in the rune was Druth, an Irishman who seems to be guiding Senua on her quest. Not long after we get a vision of Druth in live action. During my first playthrough of the game I recall not being 100% sure if it was live-action or just impeccably animated. The documentary that comes with the game reveals it is indeed live-action; acted and voiced by Nicholas Boulton (Heavenly Sword, Dragon Age: Origins, Mass Effect 3) who played the role well I thought.

I then came across my first locked ‘symbol’ door, a staple throughout the game wherein Senua must search the environment for the symbol(s) shown. The idea for this was to inject a sense of Senua’s pareidolia into the game. I didn’t quite get this until it was explained in the documentary. Initially, for me it felt as if this was simply a puzzle-solving exercise and little else to pad the game out. I eventually came to realise that the puzzles stem from Senua herself; she sees patterns within the environment where there are none. Due to her paranoia she cannot proceed on her journey until she has settled her mind on the meaning behind the patterns. Once I had this moment of realisation I tilted my hat towards the developers for a very decent effect; however I still did not find myself particularly enjoying these puzzles.

Once in the area with the three doors, we get our first taste of the games fighting scenes. After a couple of hits, I got used to the controls and found the fighting to be incredibly easy. The fight lasted until I remembered that I was supposed to lose this part and allowed Senua to ‘die’. In a cool twist of fate, it was all a vision of Senua showing herself and the player the result of failing and dying in the game. The darkness grows on her hand and up her arm to her head, and inevitably kills her. Text then scrolls on screen revealing that constantly dying will cause this darkness to crawl up Senua’s arm; once it reaches her head the game is over, and all progress is lost. Enter the ‘permadeath’ system. In my first playthrough this certainly added an element of dread that caused me to become anxious of the fighting sequences; until of course I realised that it’s harder to die than it is to survive in this game. In any case, my second playthrough had me more curious on this and I charged ahead to the next fight scene and allowed Senua to die repeatedly. After 10 deaths and the darkness going no further than Senua’s elbow, I figured that I either need to die a lot or this permadeath thing was actually bullshit, designed to misdirect the player. After a quick Google I learned that, yes indeed, that is the case.

Whatever horrors lie behind that door, she must find him.

– Narrator

To face off with Hela, Senua must overcome the trials of illusion and fire. I believe these trials, much like the rest of the game, are about Senua’s past; more specifically her mother. Senua sees visions of her mother within faces in the environment. Focusing on these leads to a short audio scene where Senua hears her mother’s voice, a soothing, comforting and optimistic voice. Senua’s mother Galena, played by Ellie Piercy (Doctors; Brothers of War; McMafia) seemed to be the positive light in the household as her father was strict; deeming both Senua and Galena’s psychosis to be voices of the dead. Galena, much like Senua also heard voices and witnessed hallucinations. Senua’s father Zynbel condemned his wife Galena to burn to death. Senua witnessed her mother alight on the pyre but mentally blocked this image out, it is revealed at the end. This is how I concluded that Senua is facing off with her subconscious in this early part of the game, to finally meet what she believes is her biggest adversary, Hela.

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I jumped straight into Valravn’s world of illusion. While it was fun the first time around to discover how the world changed just by walking through magical gates, for example a door suddenly being open that was closed before. Once I knew my way around I felt it was just a bit tedious, and Senua’s not a particularly fast mover either. However, with being forced to a slower pace it does allow for taking in your surroundings and they are worth taking in – effective! Valravn himself I found a bit of a challenge but once you get his move-set down he’s relatively easy. Fast paced but you also get the focus meter at the beginning of the fight, allowing you to slow the pace of Valravn while still throwing Senua’s fast paced combos. I found it entertaining but nothing I’d write more than a long-winded paragraph about. We have defeated the God of Illusion. Illusions and visions – partly what Galena was burned for.

Next stage was Surt, the fire giant. Druth takes more of a vocal and visual role in this level, guiding Senua at every turn. He describes Surt and his role amongst the gods; what torture he has produced; and what horror humans have caused in his name. This level has Senua touch a stone and with this the world around her is set alight and burned in red hot flames. The ashen dead who explode into dust when Senua runs into them is a fantastic visual effect. The genuinely terrifying screams of pain when running through the flaming gauntlets made my toes curl and my back tense. A filter on the screen makes it seem as if it is film burning away, which conveys the intense heat and panicked me further. Senua’s world was in flames and my palms were sweating with pure anxiety. I felt Surt’s world of fire ably increased the levels of dread and portrayed just some of what Senua felt watching her own mother ablaze upon the pyre. Her subconscious perhaps trying to remind her of this part of her past and trying to remove the giant wall of fire that blocks her memories. I found Surt to be by far the easiest enemy in the game. A simple dodge and attack, rinse and repeat method is used until he protects himself with fire; then use the focus ability and slash until he is dead. I’m not sure if it was just me though, but I repeatedly got lost during the backtrack through Surt’s world. I’ve done it three times now and gotten lost three times.

Senua can finally open the gate to Hela and is immediately met with a cutscene. This tells the tale of how Senua returned to her village from the wilds only to find it had been left in ruin. All the villagers are dead, and her best friend and lover, Dillion, cruelly sacrificed in an ancient Viking ritual known as the Blood Eagle. It is Senua’s belief that Dillion was sacrificed to Hela and must take Dillion’s soul vessel (his head) to retrieve his soul from Hela. A quick research on the Blood Eagle showed that there were diagrams and drawings of it discovered, and even shown in the TV drama series Vikings; however, there is no hard evidence of this ritual ever actually being used. We’re also introduced to the shadow voice; the deep, gravelly, evil sounding vocals brought to us by Steven Hartley (The Bill; The Witcher III: Wild Hunt; Dark Souls III). This voice being the most disrespectful of Senua, mocking her and being entirely negative towards her quest and mindset.

They can break you, but not your promise, even his death won’t keep you apart. Through this darkness you will find him in your sword still beats a heart.

– Shadow

After some more fighting and puzzle solving, Senua makes her way across the bridge that only the dead may cross; she comes to a door that opens itself and out pours waves of darkness. Hela, approaches! Senua, discouraged by the size and might of Hela who completely dwarfs her, falls, drops her sword and looks away. It seems she’s not ready to confront Hela. The shadow voice mocks her for failing until Senua grabs her sword and swings at Hela who is almost on top of her. The sword shatters and down she falls to the beach below. This sets the theme for the second half of the game I feel; it shows what we are up against and how impossible it is to face off against gods.

This is also where my disbelief was called back into question, are we really facing gods? Is this a fictitious world made up entirely from Senua’s mind? Is the world real but Senua makes up the characters within it? Is everything real but Senua is dealing with it in her own labyrinth of a mind? One issue I repeatedly had to overcome as the player was the idea of this fantasy world inside the fantasy world of a warped and delusional mind. While the live action characters are real, and the environment exists, it does not work in the way Senua thinks it does. As a non-mentally impaired person, I found my interest juxtaposed with confusion.

Senua follows a glowing figure of Dillion down the beach as the ever-present narrator tells of how Senua met Dillion. Senua’s father Zynbel rarely let her out, only occasionally to fetch certain ingredients. One time while she was out she watched Dillion practising with a sword beneath a tree. She copied him until she was good enough with a sword and then by chance Dillion spotted her and approached, asking where she learned to move like that. From there they begin to fall in love and it looks like it’s happily ever after. Zynbel finds out and grounds Senua. However, Senua decides she’s going to go into the wilds and try to overcome her ‘darkness’ and defeat the voices and visions that torment her. Zynbel attempts to abolish these thoughts but Senua raises her sword and simply walks away.

The majority of the first half of the game was recognising Senua’s mother as an important presence; how she helped and cared for Senua despite her own troubled mind. The second half appears to be focussing on Senua’s father and his relationship with his daughter. He did not understand the girl’s troubles, and therefore dealt with them in the gravest and cruellest of manners. This developed my interest in how mental health was understood (or not) at this point in history.

Senua goes through four trials of the sword to receive a new blade called Gramr, forged by Odin. We also get a cutscene from live action Dillion, played by Oliver Walker (Viking Quest; Holby City; Doctors). Throughout the story Senua, self-loathes and blames herself when other villagers claim she is cursed. Dillion does not agree and constantly tries to calm her and make her see that it’s not her fault; she should not have to apologise for such things. Of the four sword trials, the one I came away from dreading the most was the ‘blind’ sword trial. In this trial you must sneak past blurry monsters, who move quicker than Senua; however, I learned after a few rooms of these that they seem to be harmless. I walked past a few, even brushing up against some and nothing happened. The sound design in this level is top notch; when you do get near the monsters and the music goes up then your heart level also rises with it. Maybe if I were to stop moving then Senua might fall over dead or something but, in all honesty, other than the few times Senua is ‘meant’ to die and my experiments with the supposed permadeath system, I didn’t die once in this playthrough.

Once Senua pulls out the sword she is warped to a river of blood where she must fight through wading arms and swarms of enemies. I found this area tough but again, visually stunning. It centred on Galena and her pain and suffering. Perhaps another reminder from her subconscious of this past trauma?

The mountain level was a bit of a challenge for me, simply in terms of the geography; I got lost so many times here. The idea of this level to run between dark segments into the light, otherwise the beast will get you! The music again ramps up the tension while you’re in the dark areas. Water is used cleverly here to occasionally put out Senua’s torch. There is a real sense of dread when running from one light source to another and I do remember dying due to taking too long during my first playthrough. The boss at the end of this segment is a big shadow beast known as either Fenrir and/or Garm, a giant wolf-like creature who thrives in darkness. Another dodge the attack then slash at his side fight. Anyone who’s completed Bloodborne will probably find the combat in this game a breeze. After overcoming Fenrir/Garm, the shadow voice almost apologetically relieves Senua of his burden by showcasing his admiration for her determination. He tells her to push on as she will, but she will suffer because of it. She replies simply, “I know”.

Senua, prepare yourself for Ragnarok for it is nigh.

– Druth

The next section has the player take Senua to different positions in the area and focus on the bridge to Hela’s chamber, which is broken apart. By focusing on the floating shards of bridge, the bridge becomes fixed until it is whole. I got my final rune stone in this area wherein Druth tells of his fear of Ragnarok and that Senua must face it. It is the end of the road!

I take this to mean that it represents the end of Senua’s story and that she must face death head on in this time. Druth, according to Urban Dictionary, is defined as “A variant of the truth spoken by an individual that ought to know the actual truth. A general lack of thinking before speaking”, an intentional play by the developers. Druth, using cutscenes and rune stones, guides Senua by explaining every detail of what she is facing before she faces it. By feeding Senua all this mythology about the Gods, Hela, and the journey she would face in Hel, Senua’s delusional mind is able to visualise all he is voicing. Every vision Senua has is preempted by Druth’s voice in her mind. All the bosses, the Northmen, Hel itself, Hela, everything is already in Senua’s subconscious ready to be projected out into the real world for her to face. Each part of the game is linked to her own subconscious also, wherein the dreadful memories of her past lie.

With this, we open the door to Hela’s chamber and venture down a path with only a mirror standing in the middle, awaiting Senua’s arrival. At this point the voices in Senua’s mind become self-aware and begin questioning what happens if Senua herself dies. “Wait… What happens when she dies? What happens to us? We die too. Do we die too? I don’t want to die!”

We all die someday. And once everyone’s gone, even the Gods will die.

– Senua

Upon arriving at the mirror, Senua looks inside to reveal her past self. Before she had donned the warrior face-paint, as we have seen throughout the game. Past Senua attempts to rationalise with Warrior Senua and make her see that there’s no need to continue her quest, and that she could die. Stepping out of the mirror, Past Senua tries to explain that the monsters she faces are not real, that they were put in Senua’s mind by others. Warrior Senua explains that the monsters are real to her and must be confronted. Senua then steps through the mirror and continues her quest. It was at this point I felt more assured that the game was most likely occurring in Senua’s mind. The deep voice returns at this part telling Senua to let go of the Past Senua, for she is weak, and the darkness will find that weakness and feast on it.

Due to getting all the rune stones in this playthrough I was treated to some extra final cutscenes before the last boss. Starting off with Druth, removing his cap and declaring that the man he was before was a coward. He led the Northmen to treasures and slaves but claims that he was not the only one; A man in black from Senua’s land did also sell such secrets. This scene is closely followed by another, final, repressed memory of Senua’s showing her mother burning on the pyre. The deep voice is shown to be a man in black, hooded robes. He stands behind Senua as she watches her mother burn exclaiming this is what happens when you listen to the voices of the underworld, they rot your soul and cause you to defy the Gods, then the darkness comes. Senua seems to realise then that the hooded figure, who is her father, created the darkness to hide behind it. It was her father who has been the shadowy voice throughout the whole game, putting Senua down at every turn. The suggestion here is also that her father was the one, dressed in black, who told the Northmen about his village that caused it to be pillaged and Dillion to be executed.

Senua then sprints up the path towards Hela. I noticed at this point that half of Hela’s face is burned, much the same as her mother’s was in the memory of the burning pyre. Perhaps coincidence, or Hela simply embodies Senua’s repressed memories of her mother, father, and Dillion; perhaps even representing death itself. Senua continues to verbally argue with the hooded black figure, while fighting off hordes of Northmen warriors. At the beginning of the second round, her father poses her a question: “Tell me Senua, where is Dillion’s soul if the darkness is a lie? How will you save him?”. Senua seems put off by this question and when she refuses to believe she cannot save him, the previous bosses return to fight Senua. Representations of previous repressed memories returning to fight Senua again in a shadowy form.

In the final round, Hela sits at the centre of the stage while Senua fights off an endless horde of Northmen. Eventually, after being downed enough times, Senua begins to tell herself to “Let go”. After being struck down one final time, one of the Northmen finish Senua off and she is defeated.

Senua crawls to Hela and sits up, finally beginning to question the reality surrounding her. “If you are a lie. And there is no Darkness. Then you never took him from me, did you? And I can’t save Dillion!”. Senua, briefly regressing, begins to laugh and throws in Hela’s face, “Is that’s what you want me to believe?”. She continues to grasp to the notion that Hela and her voices of the dead have crawled into Senua and ruined her, trying to confuse her and deceive her, all the while holding onto Dillion’s head. It is when she realises she is at rock-bottom and has no reason and no more quest to fulfil that she can start to let go; starting with Hela, telling her she has no power over her. Hela proceeds to lift Senua and stab her with her own sword Gramr.

This is followed by a quick but revealing monologue from live-action Dillion, explaining that Death must be embraced and when you turn your back on it you just sit within its shadow. Senua is remembering this and beginning to accept death; Not hers, but Dillions, why this whole adventure started in the first place. Hela, seemingly crying, picks up Dillion’s skull, holding it out and dropping it from high down a pit. The camera pulls up again to reveal Senua, emotional but finally accepting of Dillion’s death. “Goodbye my love”, A poignant end to a story of Senua’s past and how it shaped her as a person, as a woman, and as a warrior during a ruthless period in history.

The game ends, as the voices return, with Senua seemingly gazing through the camera towards the player and saying “Follow us. There are more stories to tell.” Perhaps the developers telling us ‘more to come’ from them?

Roll credits.

Ninja Theory’s ambitious entry from the grounds of ‘AAA Independent’ is impressive. The game lured me into this world of Norse mythology, while turning it all on its head.

The story is revealed through segments as the game progresses, in a similar vein to a ‘walking simulator’; while throwing in some half decent fighting segments that are engrossing first time around, time consuming thereafter. On the first play through I remember likening the fighting system to the Batman Arkham games; Block, dodge, counter attack. Anyone who’s a fan of those games or any of the ‘Souls’ games will, like myself, likely find the combat particularly easy, even on its difficult setting. Second time playing this, I dreaded the combat sections as I just wanted to get on with the story and get past these. It almost felt like padding, but I understand the story significance of the Northmen fighting Senua; they were the subconscious adversaries with the task of stopping Senua from reaching and accepting the truth. I feel the game could have done with a few less fighting segments, or just make them shorter. Perhaps that would also help hide the lack of varied Northmen characters.

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The music was great and set the tone throughout. During boss fights the score helped to up the tempo and made fighting in these sections much more of a pleasure. Facing off with Surt while there Viking chants and instruments pounding in the background sold me more on this world. The tension building moments, especially during the dark segments in the mountain level, really got the heart pounding.

I thought the game was visually outstanding. The graphics on my standard PS4 were fantastic – I dare say the graphics on the Xbox One X would be even more so. The use of lighting, colour and screen filters were used in ways to help emphasise Senua’s vision of the world. One symptom of psychosis is the world moving around the person, faster than it is, disorientating them and making them feel dizzy and nauseous; colours in the world are brighter than they appear to be and certain patterns can be highlighted to that person, wherein reality there are no such patterns to be seen. Some psychosis sufferers will become obsessive over finding patterns and figuring out their connotations in the world. Although I was never dizzy or made to feel particularly disorientated, I did get lost a few times, especially during that backtrack through Surt’s level; though I feel that was more myself being geographically challenged.

I felt the puzzles from a story and immersive point of view were well done. Finding patterns and symbols in the environment to progress felt vicariously natural in the world of a delusional mind; but from a gameplay point of view it felt like padding again, particularly after playing the game more than once. However, if the game had less puzzles and less fighting segments, it would probably lose a few hours from its already short five to six hour length. For the most part though I appreciated exploring the lush the environments for those symbols.

I thoroughly enjoyed the story of Hellblade. The character Senua was easy to empathise with, with her quest to revive her lost love by taking on gods in an unfamiliar land. The added spice to the mix was her mental health condition. She is someone from a troubled past, in an unforgiving and uneducated time in history where suffering from psychosis was not seen as a mental health condition but a curse. I myself don’t suffer any severe mental health issues but what I enjoy about this game is that it opens a narrative among, in some cases, an unforgiving and uneducated (on the subject) group of people. I admire the game’s ambition to provoke such discussion.

I enjoyed the story of Senua’s path to self-redemption. For learning that she is who she is, not due to a curse or any god, but because of her past that she so vehemently clings to; Dillion, her parents, Druth and the awful experiences she’s been through that her memory has suppressed. Facing the representations of her past and fighting them as if they were real. It matters little that it isn’t ‘real’, it’s that it is real to Senua and the player is along for the ride.

I believe we’re not necessarily meant to get an understanding of how people with psychosis feel, or experience what they experience, and I feel that’s where the game has unfairly lost some credit in other reviews. This is Senua’s story, her coming to terms with the deaths of those around her and how she eventually deals with it; by accepting death as a part of life and moving on to live out the rest of her life. I admire the fact that the psychosis was revealed before the game was released and is widely known throughout, rather than used as a plot device to twist the story. Although many stories I’ve enjoyed have used this tried and tested ploy, I always feel it’s a bit of a cop-out: “None of this is making sense! – Oh, I see, they’re mentally ill. It all becomes clear now”.

I understand most of the criticism levelled at Hellblade, however one thing I can never wrap my head around is that it does not show mental illness or psychosis in a ‘real’ or more detailed way. I agree that the game has its faults however this game is not so much about mental illness and psychosis as it is about this one particular character’s experience of it. This criticism, for the most part, seems to stem from critics who deal with mental illness in their own lives in some way, which would suggest to me they are looking into the game to find patterns and experiences that they themselves can empathise with; then when this does not come or is represented differently to their own experiences, it leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

I genuinely believe it to be an important game in my library. A strong story, decent gameplay, and perhaps most importantly provides the stimulus for people to talk about mental health. This topic continues to slowly emerge from the shadows, but remains taboo to certain people and in certain circumstances. Those who suffer still feel under pressure to hide it and shy away from help lest they be viewed as weak. If there’s one thing I hope comes from Hellblade it is that we can be more open about the subjects it touches upon more than we have been able to prior to its existence.

So, what next for Ninja Theory? As of E3 2018, The developer and Microsoft surprised industry commentators by announcing a newly formed partnership. What does this mean for the company with a stated aim to walk the line between triple A and independent?

Well, according to the video released wherein NT explains this decision, the company will (naturally) be focusing its efforts on Microsoft’s platform. NT will have the Microsoft marketing team at their disposal and the extended funds to bring the quality of Hellblade – as well as further original IPs – to Xbox first or exclusively.

While this seems like a strange move for a gaming studio who has fairly recently been at pains to state its intention to avoid the restrictive tyranny of a big-name corporation, it must be said, Microsoft have acquired themselves an excellent studio in Ninja Theory. Will the Xbox giants allow NT to breathe as promised or will we be looking at Senua’s sequel in the not too distant future? Time will tell of course.

I learnt the hard way, to not be afraid of death, Senua. Because a life without loss is one without love.

– Dillion

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