Developer: Ninja Theory
Publisher: Ninja Theory
Release Date: August 08, 2017
MSRP: $29.99 / £24.99
ESRB: Mature, PEGI 18
Players: 1 (Single Player Only)
Available Platforms: PS4 & PC (Reviewed on PS4 Pro)
Genre: Hack ‘n Slash, Puzzles, Walking Simulator
Over the past 2 days, I have completed Hellblade Senua’s Sacrifice twice, found all collectibles and unlocked the platinum trophies in the EU & USA version. If you are a trophy hunter you will find this 3-8 hour platinum very interesting.
What excites me about this game is that it is self-funded, self-published, and made by a small team with big goals. Something I respect and find admirable.
Hellblade is a cinematic experience, a concept you may know from The Order 1886 or Until Dawn. It is slow paced and there aren’t a lot of combat encounters. Initially, I was a bit disappointed because I expected more action and fighting. Instead, what I got was a walking simulator with puzzles. You will spend the first two hours almost exclusively with solving puzzles and walking. Later (last third of the game) it gets more interesting and you frequently encounter enemy groups. It got better over time. For what it’s worth, the puzzles aren’t bad — you must use illusions to see alternate realities or find hidden symbols in the surroundings (e.g. by looking at trees from a certain angle to get certain shapes you cannot see from other angles).
It’s just that there are too many of these puzzles and so much walking that it gets borderline boring in the early stages.
It’s 30% Cutscenes, 30% Puzzles, 30% Walking, 10% Combat.
A full playthrough lasts 8 hours if you go for the 44 Lorestone Collectibles, 7 hours if you focus on just the story, 4 hours if you follow a puzzle guide.
What kept me interested in the game was the jaw-dropping graphics. It’s honestly one of the best looking console games to date. Sometimes I wondered if that’s Hellblade or Horizon Zero Dawn (Senua also looks a little bit like Aloy from HZD). It even runs at 60fps! To think that this was accomplished by such a small development team on a tight budget is truly fascinating and it’s evident how much love went into this project. They even used motion capture that’s normally reserved for big budget games. Because of this, the characters are more life like.
The story is also unique and the developers not afraid to take risks. The main protagonist “Senua” suffers from psychosis and hears voices in her head. Something that’s too controversial for big publishers.
One feature that’s underused is the fighting. It’s fun and there is a decent amount of combos. The basic controls make it easy for players of all skill levels to get started:
- for a light attack
- for a heavy hit
- to dodge
- to break guard
- to block and counter
- to run
In the endgame the fighting gets a tad repetitive because the same enemies with the same moves show up too often.
There are also boss fights. Not many, but they are there and they are great.
The level design is mostly linear with a few semi-open worldish areas. There’s no chapter select and no free roam after the story. This means if you miss one of the 44 Lorestone Collectibles you will have to do another playthrough. Beyond collectibles there’s really no extra content or replay value. I would have loved to see an arena mode with waves of enemies or just anything with fighting. The “shard challenges” also sounded interesting, but turned out to be more walking sections.
In my hunt for all collectibles, the most annoying thing was how super slow Senua was walking. It’s the same thing The Order 1886 and Until Dawn did. An apparent attempt to stretch out the game’s length. I’m not a fan of this practice, as to me it feels like a waste of the player’s time, just so they can claim it’s 8 hours long. If they let you run it would be a 2-hour game. That’s a hard sell. Cutscenes are also unskippable.
However, you do have to respect Ninja Theory for making this game $30. The pricing is fair and the game’s length easily holds up to The Order 1886 or Until Dawn which were full priced games.
To sum it up; Hellblade plays like a beautiful tech demo but falls a bit short on gameplay. If you expect a fighting game you will be disappointed. If you want a good looking psycho-adventure or just an easy platinum trophy it’s definitely worth it.
This is Great:
+ One of the best looking console games to date.
+ All areas feel uniquely distinct and look absolutely gorgeous.
+ Good soundtrack.
+ Original story line. The developers aren’t afraid to take risks.
+ Fantastic game for trophy hunters, enjoyable platinum trophy.
Not So Great:
– Too much of a walking simulator, hardly any combat.
– Basic moveset, the combat gets repetitive in the end.
– The most annoying thing is how slowly Senua is walking, hard not to get bored by this and makes the game feel unnaturally stretched out.
– Unclear spoken audio in some parts, hard to understand what the characters are saying without turning on subtitles (especially at end of game).
– Zero Replay Value.
Hellblade is great if you are looking for a cinematic experience with superb graphics and puzzles, or if you just want a quick platinum trophy. It’s not for you if you want an action fighting game.
Played on PS4 Pro (Version 1.00). Bought the EU & USA Versions from PS Store and completed both of them 100%, found all collectibles and unlocked both their platinum trophies. Didn’t encounter any issues in either version.