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So I Tried...Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice

So I Tried...Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice

Each edition of So I Tried… I will try a game that I have never tried before. Will I find something new to love? Will I find something new to despise? I'll take a full half hour, no matter how bad it gets or how badly I do, to see if this is the game for me. For my inaugural dip into this long-standing GameGrin series, I head into the dark heart of Norse mythology in Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice.

Hellblade 1

What I thought it was

Based upon knowing nothing of the game, and it carrying what I considered a fairly uninspiring title in ‘Hellblade’, I went in anticipating a pretty bog standard hack-and-slash romp where endless swarms of forgettable enemies would fall under my swinging sword as I battled to save the world, or some far off fantasy setting where the world usually sits.

What it actually is

What I actually got was a game that, from the outset, proved to be equal parts immersive, haunting, and deeply disturbing. In fact, it took a good 10 minutes or so to actually begin playing, as the opening cutscene depicting Senua paddling a canoe down a river flanked by the hanging and disfigured bodies of what I presume were previous paddlers, takes some time to play out. Yet despite this, I was instantly engrossed.

You see, our protagonist is constantly troubled by voices that whisper and chatter in her mind as she heads into the black heart of Norse Hell in a desperate bid to save her lover, and it is so brilliantly done that as a player I was in a constant state of beautiful unease. Sonically it reminded me a little of the old GameCube title, Eternal Darkness, where untethered voices and wails would fill the air.

The action is hack-and-slash style, but it’s slick and feels deeply satisfying. There are also genuinely challenging puzzles to overcome along the journey into madness, and the balance after a half hour or so of play is wonderfully sweet.

hellblade 3

Will I keep playing?

Hell(blade) yes! I’m already craving another session as I write this, and I fully intend to see the game through to its final credits. The combination of great looks and a genuinely creepy atmosphere have done a wonderful job in dragging me into fantastic depths of immersion, and the nice balance between exploration, puzzling and combat seem to keep things fresh. I didn’t expect this, but I would highly recommend getting yourself lost in Senua’s troubled mind and potentially, blowing your own.

 

Neil Bason

Neil Bason

Staff Writer

Embracing all the good stuff that keeps his nerd heart beating like a Pixies bassline.

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