Ninja Theory is one of the best unknown developers in existence. Their games are beautiful, smart, funny, intuitive and sadly don’t sell too well; or they receive terrible fan feedback from fickle fans. You may have heard of some of their previous titles, Enslaved: Odyssey to the West (one of my favorite games), Heavenly Sword, and the ever divisive DMC. Personally I LOVED every one of these games. They look great, play great, have a great story and are fair in their difficulty. Yes Devil May Cry fans, I had fun with DMC, just as much fun as I had with the other games. Hair color and emo vibes don’t take away from a well charted out game. Once you grow up you may just realize that. Their latest game Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is one of the best games of 2018 that everyone forgot about. I almost forgot about it too, until the physical release was announced.
I did really want this game when it released in 2017. But I’m not one to drop thirty bucks on a download. Instead, I bided my time. And Ninja Theory granted me my wish when they released the game on disc late last year. Had they not released the game on disc, I probably never would have played it, which would have been a huge shame. When I heard that Ninja Theory had finally heard my calls for a proper release I ran down to my local video game store and pre-ordered the title.
I just wish they had released it like this in 2017, I would have already beaten this magnificent game and had a couple of years to gush about it like I do Enslaved. To be honest, even the box art is badass, rarely do games come with a nice slipcover, this one does and it looks amazing. Definitely no regret in buying this physically and waiting the long wait.
For those who have not heard about Hellblade, this is the “Mental Illness” game. Everyone I’ve spoken to refers to this title as such, but it is so much more than just a game that lets us see what it is like to be trapped in your own mind. This is a game you simply MUST play with headphones on, I almost didn’t but I’m glad that I decided to. You won’t get the full force of what Senua is going through as she slowly fights her way into Hell. Voices bombard her constantly, they doubt her, they chide her and they some encourage her. This is almost a constant as you navigate the levels and battle the random encounters you find after you succeed in unlocking certain levels of the underworld.
Oh, did I happen to mention that this game has perma-death? Yup, if you fall in battle too many times Ninja Theory deletes your save file and you have to start again from the beginning. The developers show how close you are to losing your save file by infecting Senua with “darkness.” I’m thinking that this “darkness” is the mental illness she is trying to stave off for her love. It is marked in the game as a black splotch on your hand and each time you fall in battle the splotch slowly starts creeping up your arm. Once it hits your head, back to square one. Very neat albeit annoying mechanic in the game.
The graphics on this game almost rival that of God of War and Detroit: Become Human; it is one of the best looking games I’ve seen on the PS4. It’s nice to see how far Ninja Theory took all they learned about motion capture while making Enslaved. During the cut-scenes you can actually see the performance that Melina Juergens gives and it is amazing, truly amazing.
Video games have almost surpassed movies in terms of acting now and I think that’s just grand. The level design is great in this game as well, it has this early dreadful feel to it. And each God that you must slay has his own land which is basically a part of them. To reach the fire god you must defeat puzzles that cause the land to ignite. In order to reach the trickster god you must see through his lies and outwit his puzzles.
It is all so amazing, and the combat, my god the combat is so much fun even though it is very challenging. You have a block, light attack, heavy attack and dodge button, no stamina bar here which is a good thing. As you defeat gods you gain some of their power, which makes the minor battles so much easier to beat. At first you are just given one enemy to defeat. Then another would appear and so on, but as you progress through the levels more and more enemies can surround you. If they surround you, prepare to die quickly and restart the game sooner than later. Thankfully the extra voices in your head tell you when to dodge if you don’t see an enemy behind you. Trust those voices, they don’t want to die either cause then they would cease to be as well.
I really am a huge fan of this game and I cannot wait to see what Ninja Theory will come out with next. I don’t think they’ll disappoint me at all. Getting a physical copy of this game was a great idea even if it is about two years old. I can’t gush enough about this game and I hope that this article has convinced you to grab a copy. I’d say by the physical just because it will look great on your shelf. Heck I may even display mine since the cover and game are such great pieces of art. I wish the game was a tad longer though. Or maybe I should have tried harder to fail. Either way I enjoyed taking this journey with Senua; I just wish I would have taken it sooner.