A game made by an independent studio that truly lives to the "AAA standards". It may be the best-looking indie game yet, and also one of the deepest, most beautiful game experiences in years.
Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice is a game that blends hack & slash combat with puzzle solving and exploration. The main story, partly based on Celtic mythology, focuses on Senua, a female warrior who must travel to Hel (the Nordic land of the dead) to save the soul of her dead lover. On her path she must fight monsters and "the darkness", the latter which she believes to be a curse that is consuming her body and mind. Of course, this is but an analogy for the character's struggle with psychosys, a mental disorder which causes hallucinations and delusions. In this regard, Senua is one of the deepest, most tormented characters in recent videogame history. Once you understand the context, the visions and supernatural events become absolutely devastating.
An essential part of the game's atmosphere is the sound design, so well made and eerie it will make you doubt your own sanity. Senua will hear several voices speaking at the same time, at almost every moment, that will warn or advise (sometimes wrongly) about the player's decisions. Also, most of the game puzzles are based on visual perspective and mind-games, very fitting for Senua's "curse". During some stages, the player will have to walk around for several minutes and explore every possible angle before finding the right answer. While most of these riddles are very clever, there is a point in which they become repetitive or too simple. Same goes for combat, which is only exciting when facing multiple enemies, and even so it goes dull after about one hour. This occurs because the enemies look and act the same, so the player can approach all of them in a similar fashion. The fact they are extremely slow makes it the less challenging. Even the bosses are very easy to beat. Franky, the most enjoyable parts of the game are those which do not involve combat, especially since some fighting sections last for just too long.
From a narrative and technical perspective, it's a gorgeous, profound and heart-breaking experience. One that moved me deeply, and I will not forget any time soon. As an action game it's lacking some polish, but it's easy to forgive it due to its outstanding artistic ambition.
- ▸Extremely well written, deep storyline.
- ▸Beautiful but devastating character development.
- ▸Amazing visuals, especially for an indie game.
- ▸Top-notch sound design and music.
- ▸Some clever puzzle mechanics.
- ▸Repetitive and easy combat.
- ▸Some parts of the game don't require much player interaction.