Game: Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice

Hellblade: Senua's SacrificeFinished Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice.

This is not a game but rather an experience. You play Senua a Celtic female warrior from the Pict tribe. You are suffering from psychosis and are hearing voices. So your clan exiles you for been “cursed by the Gods” and been inflicted with “the darkness”. Yet you return and find your whole clan massacred by Northmen. Even more, the only one who has been fond of you, your lover Dillian, brutally slaughtered. It is this moment in which you totally lose it and find yourself in a nightmarish world. Picking up the head of your lover (sic!) you travel to Helheim, the realm of Hela, daughter of Loki, to free the soul of Dillian. All the way you are facing illusions, hear voices in your head and fight your way through Northmen fighters appearing right out of some dark mist.

This is a trip into a psychotic mind and tries to mimick what people with that condition see and hear. Playing it with headphones is crucial since the Ninja Theory did a great job in making binaural 3D sounds. So you hear those voices sometimes right next to you, then from afar back, then on the left in front of you, etc.

And the Unreal 4 Engine is painting a gorgeous environment. This game has a marvellous, breathtaking scenery of the Orkney Isles.

Yet the game mechanics are very, very minimalistic: there is no inventory, no map, no quest-givers, no log, no nothing. It’s just you, the environment and the voices. Sometimes you get some visions from other people. Combat is light attack, heavy attack, parry and dodge. But that’s it.

At first, this feels weird and anachronistic. But after some time one gets accompanied with this interface and starts enjoying it. Even the combat feels intense since often then not you are facing more than one enemy at a time and you have quite some time keeping those foes at bay.

All in all a very, very clever and well done “game”.

On the con: there is only one save file and the games make auto-saves on checkpoints. For me, this is a big downer.

9/10 9 out of 10