A Dark Journey through the Norse Underworld
As a fan of dark fantasy and action-adventure games, I was recommended to try “Hellblade: Senua’s sacrifice”. I admit the game’s description did not really catch me at first but against all my expectations it was emotionally overwhelming and exceptionally captivating. Additionally, if you are into Norse and Celtic mythology you will probably relate to the story and characters even more.
Senua’s Story and Gameplay
The game was published by Ninja Theory in 2017. The main character is a Celtic woman, called Senua who is desperately trying to find the soul of her dead lover. To recover it, she needs to pass through all the gates leading to Helheim, the Norse underworld, and defeat the goddess Hela who rules over the place.
In order to reach Hela, Senua has to face enemies and solve many puzzles which are well done and could be quite tricky so you do require a strong eye for details and a good sense of direction. The controls are intuitive and you’ll quickly get the hang of it. At the same time, some in-game battles could be a little challenging. Dodging and blocking at the right time is important so inexperienced players might find it frustrating, but rest assured, nothing nerve-wracking like “Dark Souls”.
What Makes Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice Special?
Personally, the most fascinating features of the game are the voice acting and character development. Senua suffers from severe psychosis which is reflected through visions and voices in the gameplay. She struggles to confront her past and reality, as they both intertwine to a point that, just like Senua, you have no idea what is real and what’s not. To enhance the audio experience further, the producers used real mental health specialists to develop the psychosis effect. In the game, these effects appear in the form of “Furies” which are Senua’s haunting voices in her head. The audio experience is truly entrancing so I strongly suggest playing the game with headphones for optimal immersion into the game.
Senua Behind the Scenes
It is worth mentioning the performance of Melina Juergens, the voice and face behind Senua. The German beauty started as a photographer and video editor, additionally, she also participated in technical projects for the test team. Her true potential as an actress was discovered when she was asked to act in a short scene. Despite her initial hesitation, she managed to impress the team, thus taking over the main lead. Her talent was further appreciated by others, earning her a few prizes, including the 2017 Game Awards for “Best Performance”. We will surely see more of her in the next Hellblade 2 which is expected to be released this December or possibly in early 2021.
Overall, the strong game impact, voice acting and stunning graphics make this game distinctive. If you want to delve into the “Darkness” of Senua and explore Helheim, I strongly encourage you to dive in but don’t let the darkness take you!
If the dark world of Helheim is not to your liking, you can check out our “Yakuza 0 Game Review” and explore the streets of Kamurocho instead.