Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice is a game that I've been following ever since I heard it was announced. It's coming from the folks at Ninja Theory -- who are most known for the Devil May Cry reboot and Heavenly Sword -- and it covers some different territory than their previous titles.
Heavenly Sword and DmC are both character-action games. In those games, the emphasis is placed on fighting enemies, completing combos, and upgrading your character. It's safe to say that Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice will include all of those elements but the reason I'm excited for this title is they way they're going to explore mental illness through the game's narrative.
Yeah. Mental illness. It's a topic that hits very close to home for me and I want to see how they handle it. You can even see moments of Senua's mental health issues in the trailer they released below.
Something that gives me extremely high hopes for Ninja Theory and their objective to properly portray mental illness is that they aren't just doing it on their own or using stories shared by friends of friends.
They've been collaborating with Paul Fletcher, psychiatrist and professor at the University of Cambridge, in order to get some professional insight on their portrayal. I definitely enjoy the fact that they're working so hard on making this part of their game just as tight as their gameplay mechanics.
They've been releasing development diaries on YouTube for the past couple of months and the one they released about Senua's mind and mental illness is extremely insightful.
It's about 9 minutes long but it's well worth the watch. Towards the end of the video, they talk about the hallucinations and psychosis that Senua experiences and one of the things that I genuinely like about the way they talk about it is the words they use.
They talk about creativity and imagination and how that takes over the mind. They never describe Senua's situation as one where she's the victim or suffering. There's also something in there when talking about the combat that resonated with me as well.
They say that the violence experienced isn't a result of her mental illness but her mental illness is a result of the violence she's experienced in the past. Which is a distinction that most games -- or any type of media -- forget to make.
I'm extremely excited for this game and I can't wait until more news gets released about it.