What is one’s world like when they experience things other people cannot? What happens when the one person that helps a person get through all that dies?
Senua’s Sacrifice gives you that experience as Senua, a young Celtic(?) woman that hears and sees things. The only person that accepts her is her love, Dillion, but he has passed away. Now she travels to find a way to bring him back. The physical journey she goes on isn’t long, but the mental journey takes her through worlds.
Find it on Steam. Special thanks to swaswj for making this review possible.
This is a game that tries to present a mental condition. I hear it’s pretty accurate. It gets creepy and there is a lot of doubt vocalized by a lot of different people as Senua journey’s through a Nordic area. There, she hopes to free her lover’s soul from the clutches of the Nordic world of the dead, Helheim. To do that, she must face a lot of challenges.
Senua moves like a real person. She’s not that agile. Once she hops down a ledge, she can’t climb back up. Her default speed is walking, so you must hold down a button to run. This makes getting around feel slower.
The world is interesting to experience. It is full of details and strangeness. How much of that is real and how much are things only Senua sees? Prepare for quite a bit of spookiness, at times.
Getting around requires you to solve some environmental puzzles. Mostly, you’re trying to get to align the world in such a way that the geography creates symbols for you to proceed. I quite liked it, actually. The parts where they really lean into it have some really creative worlds and means of getting around.
Sometimes, it does feel like you’re doing a lot of walking around, though. The slowness doesn’t help much in those times.
You travel through a decent variety of locations that have some differences in the way you solve puzzles. It keeps things fresh while you guide Senua to her destination.
Combat is decent. It is solid and responsive. You start with what you have and only get one new action, which is something you could already do, it just gives you a bit of a bonus when you use it. The voices are actually helpful during combat as they warn you of people trying to attack you from behind. You’re always forced to be locked onto something, though.
There’s no real way to practice combat, though. When you’re not fighting, Senua puts her sword away. So hope you can learn the moves against real opponents.
The real focus of the game is presenting an experience. It has a great tone and atmosphere all the way through. The voices are the primary things that accompany Senua. Most of the time, they are discouraging. Often times, they’ll also tell you what to do next. That’s not even getting to the other voices Senua hears.
It is interesting since the game doesn’t do any sort of text on screen. It is only the voices nudging you along in a certain direction.
Of course, it’s not just hearing things. Senua also sees things differently. The world will darken or distort at times. Sometimes a lot when Senua is feeling stressed. It is a wild effect and is built into how the game feels and how you navigate the world.
The game is built around the narrative and how Senua experiences the world. The presentation of of the game really pulls you in though the actual game play part can feel slow. The story is mostly about Senua’s life with a sprinkling of Norse Mythology. Does the ending work? Yes. I think the story of the game is great with an ending that is really satisfying.
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is an interesting experience. Find it on Steam.
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