By Liyo Kikon
There are games which fills you up with adrenaline, and then there are games which pumps your heart with pure joy, but there are a few rare gems in the gaming world which are able to give you an absolute “wow” factor within the first few minutes of playing them and Hellblade Seuna’s Sacrifice is one of those gems. Set in the Viking age, our hero, Senua is a broken Celtic warrior who embarks on a haunting vision quest into Viking Hell to fight for the soul of her dead lover. Throughout the game, we can see that she is constantly traumatized by the memories and hallucinations along with the voices in her head. The voices play a big role as they are constantly whispering in the background, carrying the narrative of this story and I have to say that you will easily get lost in these sounds as you play the game, it will almost feel as if we are the ones whispering into Senua’s ears as we watch her over her shoulder in third person view. I know that sounds kinda hard to explain but trust me, once you start playing this game, you will get the same feeling as well. These voices, along with the bleak atmosphere all blend well together to give us the eerie feeling throughout the entire game. Bundle that with the hallucinations and you will be on your toes all the time.
The graphics in this game are out of this world, they are so darn good that at first I thought it was gameplay cinematic and when the character started moving around, it took me by surprise because it truly is a marvel. Everything, from the lighting, the forest, the character facial expressions to the way it feels will give you a chill as you admire the graphics in this game. I would go as far as to say that it is the best looking game ever. As we all know, graphics is not everything and it is the gameplay and storyline which makes most of the game and I gotta say, the gameplay in Senua’s Sacrifice is second to none. There are elements of action, suspense and puzzle solving in this game and the people working at Ninja Theory brought their A-Game to this masterpiece. The enemies you encounter are the Northmen who appear out of thin air and disappear to nothingness when you slay them. The combat system feels so darn fluid and natural that it never feels too hard or too easy either and it all depends on your reflex. There are a few combos which you can explore to attack, along with dodges and parry movements when the enemy strikes. Keep on mind that there are no tutorials when you start this game and you will have to figure everything out on your own and that’s not a bad thing because clearly, they are not expecting amateurs but only veteran gamers to play this game. Besides, most games have the usual controls anyway so it’s not difficult to figure it out. Combat abilities can be unlocked at certain areas but unlike most RPG games, there are no complex skill trees or countless weapons to choose from, instead your primary focus will be on the storyline and the awesome combat system.
Because of her traumatic events which led to the death of her lover, Senua constantly battles with mental illness and you will feel sympathetic towards her as you follow her through her journey but the game draws a fine line between what’s real and what’s imaginary and it is actually because of her mental condition that allows Senua to see things beyond the normal which in turn helps her. For instance, the voices in her head regularly guide her even during combat and if there is an enemy behind her, a voice whispers to let us know that there is an enemy about to strike from behind. These are small touches which make this such a great game. As for the puzzles, you will mostly be looking for patterns to unlock doors and certain doorways like portals which will change the terrain as you walk through them. It obviously takes quite a bit of exploration around areas to figure out what to do next, but I found that there wasn’t a moment where you will get completely stuck since most puzzles require simple solutions to solve them.
Like most games of the same genre and horror elements, this game is best played with the lights dimmed and a set of good headphones and in that atmosphere, you will definitely be able to immerse yourself in the world of Hellblade and without giving you much spoilers, lets just say that in a certain dark area, Senua’s vision will get extremely intense and you will almost feel your heart pounding out of your chest. I say that because there are a few intense moments in this game and unless you have the stomach for it, I would not suggest you to play this game.