You Should Play is a rarely posted column that aims to inform you, the loyal reader why you should play a given game. It’s not a review and shouldn’t be taken as such. It is however, likely to be factually incorrect, poorly worded and potentially damaging to both you the reader, and the author.
- Name: Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
- Platform: PS4, PC
- Genre: Action Adventure
- Price: It Won’t Break the Bank (Sub £30)
I went into Hellblade expecting another Ninja Theory game. You know, character action with combos, attitude and a definite sense of style. What I got was a thoughtful and interesting take on Norse mythology, mental illness and letting go. Also lots of pretty pixels and a story that had me tearing up.
Why Should You Play It?
Hellblade’s story isn’t overly complex, its action isn’t all that satisfying and it’s level design whilst insanely pretty, is incredibly linear. That isn’t to say those things make the game boring. Far from it. I adore the game’s plot; I enjoy Thor and Odin as much as the next guy, but as fun as those aspects where, it’s not why you need to play Hellblade.
So I guess I should say that you’ll want to play Hellblade with headphones on. You see, Senua (the game’s protagonist) is constantly hearing voices. Voices that belittle her, give her bad advice and make her doubt herself and the world around her. This isn’t just a gimmick. These voices are ever-present throughout the game. And as such they themselves go on a journey. From bitchy and mocking, to desperate and pleading. It’s intense, creepy, incredibly immersive and ultimately makes the game more than the sum of its parts. And that’s why you’ll want the headphones. Having them puts them in your head as much as Senua’s. They become vital in establishing the games overall experience, and playing without headphones would nullify take that away.
The way the game handles mental illness is fascinating, and whilst I’m not equipped to say if they get it right or not, its certainly unique and bold. We get a deep look at just what is going on inside Senua’s head. From voices and hallucinations through to the memories of an abusive parent and a lost lover. It’s all here, it all adds to the overall experience and it all services the plot in interesting ways whilst making the player feel both creeped out, and emotionally involved.
Finally, if I had an award for ‘best acting in a video game’ and ‘best facial animation’, Hellblade would take both with a walk. I rarely care about acting in games, I mean who does? Hellblade changed that. I felt every single moment of this game through Senua’s facial expressions, her screams of terror and her voice acting. The game is pretty for sure, but the really good stuff is saved for Senua herself.
Hellblade is one of the more important games of the year. And as such I think you owe it to yourself to take a look at it. Rare is the game that comes along and takes a fresh new approach to story telling. Hellblade is that game. With its unique, thoughtful and frankly, creepy take on mental illness, it’s a game that deserves to be talked about both now, and during your favourite end of year award show.
I know I’ll be doing just that on this here blog.