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Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice Review

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Posted: 18 months ago, last updated 10 weeks ago.

Author: @GeekDadGamer and Jo Robertson.

OverviewOverview

This is a dark fantasy adventure, drawing on Norse and Celtic mythology, where you play a young female Pict warrior, Senua. You explore and fight your way to Helheim to rescue the soul of her dead lover. As you play, though, you hear multiple voices in your head and wrestle with a decaying grip on reality. In this way the game aims to represent, and offer a metaphor for, psychosis. You battle difficult enemies and solve puzzles but often fighting directly, or obvious solutions, are not the best way forward.

Created in partnership with neuroscientists, mental health specialists and those with lived experience of psychosis, the experience aims to share something of what it’s like to live with this kind of illness. The voices, confusion and delusions weave in and out of the action as Senua struggles to come to terms with the trauma and guilt of her past.

For adults, the game can provide a different window on the experience of someone close to them who struggles with mental illness. Some parents have played the game with older children as a way to engage with this difficult subject. The game succeeds by avoiding reducing its rendition to a literal or journalistic recreation. The story of Senua’s struggle is as much about resilience, persistence, bravery and dealing with guilt or failure as about any specific medical diagnosis. In this way it offers a deeply relatable experience.

DetailsGame Details

Rating: PEGI 18+

Release Date: 08/08/2017, updated in 2018

Price: 75% off

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One

Genres: Action, Adventure, Fighting and Narrative

Accessibility: 23 features

Developer: @NinjaTheory

CommitmentCommitment

Duration: This game will take between 8 hours and 14 hours to complete. The main story of the game can be completed in around 8 hours. Taking your time or playing on a harder difficulty level can extend this challenge to 14 hours.
 
Players: This is a single player game.

CostsCosts

Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice usually costs £24.99. 

Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice

 
Does not offer in-game purchases, 'loot boxes' or 'battle/season passes'.

Age RatingsAge Ratings

This game has been rated ESRB MATURE 17+.

 

This game is rated PEGI 18 which restricts availability to ADULTS ONLY and is not suitable for anyone below this age. This rating has been given due to strong violence and sexual expletives. The examiners report expands this rating with the following: Gameplay violence although very bloody is nevertheless determined not to be gross violence. One of the cinematic sequences however does contain a scene in which the player’s character is set alight, agonised loud screams can be heard as she runs, with flames engulfing most of her body. She eventually falls to the ground; her skin is charred and she dies. The game also contains use of the word "*!@?*".

Central character suffers from psychosis which is manifest as hallucinations (visions and flashbacks) and delusions. She hears voices all the time in her head. Schizophrenia is also a symptom.

AccessibilityAccessibility

The game provides audio of the voices that your character is hearing in her head. This offers a degree of assistance. For example, if you needs to jump off a ledge you can hear voices arguing "why isn't she down there" followed by "its because she's afraid". This is useful and important assistance information. Because of the overlapping nature of this audio it is not completely covered in subtitles, although the loudest voice is provided.

The game has an adaptive combat difficulty option so that combat isn't the barrier between success and failure. Spoiler: The game auto-saves, and tells you that if you fail too often you will have to start again from the beginning. This is a device to make the player feel the weight of dying in the game and it never actually forces you to reset.
 
Our Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice Accessibility Report details 23 accessibility features:

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