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Kaz32

Hellblade Senua's Sacrifice review: the Drive of video games.

3 posts in this topic

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I was initially worried when I saw the gameplay footage of this game since it looks like the combat will be only a button masher and the enemies are all damage sponges.

But now that I played it myself, all that worry is gone. This game is pretty damn sweet! But not for everyone.

 

You play as a woman named Senua in this game. She's on a journey to bring her dead lover back from the dead after an event from her past that happened. The game is based on Norse mythology, so you got names like Odin, Loki, you know the ones if you know Marvel's Thor. In order to do that, she has to overcome many obstacles in the game until she finally reaches Hela, AKA Norse's version of Hades. Or this woman from Thor Ragnarok.

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Unfortunately for Senua, not only does she have to overcome many trials just to get to her, she's also suffering from a severe case of psychosis, and so she can hear voices in her head and hallucinate a lot of stuff. But interestingly the game leave things open to theories on which events actually happened and which one doesn't. Does the monsters she face exists, does any of the things that happens in the game exists, or only some of them exist, or are ALL of what just happened just stuff that she hallucinates? Well, you have to play the game and figure it out yourself.

 

This game is like a prequel to Silent Hill with its psychological mind fuck aspect. Fantastic acting from the girl herself. She sells every pain and suffering in the game beautifully. She should be nominated for an award for best acting. And what's surprising is that the actress that plays the girl is actually not an actress, but one of the video editors that works on the game! She was originally just a stand in until the right actress was found, but she's done so really well that she eventually become Senua. A very well done work ms Juergens! You deserve an award! And she even tweeted that her and the entire crew got a Hellblade cake after the game's release. Yummy!:)

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Anyway, the game itself is a mix of hack and slash and level specific puzzle solving. The combat is actually pretty damn fun! The game has light, heavy, parry and block break to mix things up. The game has multiple combos you can unleash, and if you parry at the right moment, you can unleash a counter attack that heavily damages enemies. In the middle of the game, you're given an ability to slow down time. Call it a super meter of sort that freezes enemies in place so you can wail on them, and in boss fights it's necessary to beat them when they have invincibility on. Of course, the game doesn't give you a tutorial to teach how combat and combos work in this game, so you have to figure these things out yourself. It's like Infinity Blade + For Honor, and I personally like it.

 

Puzzles in the game are mostly those "optical illusion" puzzles that's in the gameplay footage. But the game also throw in a few curveballs to make things interesting. So in certain levels, there's certain themes that the specific level is based on. There's a level where you have to enter these gates to unveal a hidden platform you can't see before, a level where it's completely pitch black and all you can do to get to the next level is to feel the controller vibration while dodging these blob monsters you can barely see, if you have a joystick when playing on PC that is, and a level where you have to locate the exit by hearing a voice. These levels are well done, and certain levels are actually quite spooky since you don't have a weapon and you have to run away from whatever threat is coming for you.

 

The game has this warning in the beginning of the game that says "if you die in battle, black tendrils will cover your body. If you die too much, the tendrils will reach your head, and all your progress will be lost". But not too worry though, it's all a bluff. Someone actually tried to die many times but 50 deaths later and the game still goes on. Apparently that's just to make you nervous and feel the mental stress of Senua as you're playing the game. Cheeky devs!

https://www.pcgamesn.com/hellblade-senuas-sacrifice/hellblade-permadeath-bluff

 

The game can take around 6 - 7 hours to beat, depending on how fast you traverse through each combat and puzzle solving of course, and that's a pretty good length, especially since the game is only $30. There are these collectible runes that explain the backstory of the game itself, but that's the only replayability factor of the game. After you play the game once, you have seen everything. And the only reason you want to go back to play the game is to collect all the runes and receive 100% completion.

 

The only thing I don't like about the game aside from the lack of replayability except collecting collectibles is that you can't skip cutscenes. So if you want to replay the game and just want to skip the cutscene parts, I'm afraid you have to see the whole thing all over again. I don't mind since I can alt-tab and see youtube videos during them, but the option to skip them would be nice, especially since a lot of them is pretty long.

 

I love how detailed the game depicts people who suffers from psychosis. You can hear these voices in Senua's head that either helps her, or just straight up mocks her. It's like there's 4 people and all of them have different opinions, and it's pretty depressing. Now whether these things are actually dead spirits that torment her, or these are just voices she hallucinates in her head because of issues she dealt with her whole life is left ambiguous. But I do think that she actually does have a gift, or curse that lets her communicate with the dead, but that's just me. It's even in the opening of the game that this game is a study on how people that actually have this disease see the world, and judging by the in game "making of Hellblade" feature, it's pretty spot on! Excellent work guys! Watch this after you have seen/ played the entire game, otherwise you'll be spoiled. But it's fascinating stuff.

 

Like I said though, this game is not for everyone. I personally love this game a lot and am actually going to play it again to get the 100% completion. But for others, they may not like how narrative heavy and depressing as hell this game is. It's like Drive. There's people that will like this game, and others that will hate this game. But either way, it's a really well made game that particular people will enjoy.

 

So for those that likes narrative game with hack and slash element in it, I give this game the rating of "so good you can't wait to play the sequel, if there is any." With a badass seal of approval.

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This is Ninja Theory's most adult and depressing game to date, and I love it. Can't wait to see the next game from these guys! Hopefully it'll actually involve being a ninja this time! :D 

Crazycrab likes this

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Finished it last night, quite an experience!  There isn't much I can really add to what Kaz has said already without spoilers so I'll just leave it at that.  I recommend it!

Kaz32 likes this

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A great review, good work.

Quote

This game is pretty damn sweet! But not for everyone.

I still need to give it a try, but I'm most likely one of them. I normally dislike straightforward story heavy games like this and therefore $30 feels way too expensive to me. I will consider buying it with discounted price (sub $10) at some point later.

Still, I'm glad the game seems to do pretty well and it has many fans already.

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