This game has been billed an independent game with AAA quality, this quality is seen from the outset with the use of the new Unreal Engine 4 to make the surroundings in this game look realistic, and to immerse us into its world. The title recently changed, suggesting that the heroine of the story, Senua, is pivotal to what we see and feel during the game.
The story focuses on Senua, who is a Celtic warrior on a fabled quest through the Viking heartland. However,this journey is complicated by trauma suffered early in the story, causing psychosis to occur, allowing the player to experience the effect of this first hand. Hellbade is described as ‘hack and slash’, as the gameplay so far shows Senua sword fighting with mythical beasts, that seem to not actually be there and maybe just a manifestation of her mind.
The developer, Ninja Theory, wants the players to be part of this journey, and they have found a way using motion capture footage using a live actor to portray the events of this game. This makes the movements in game seem realistic and lifelike, with the reactions to her surroundings being appropriate, making it feel like the character is actually in the game. This also affects other elements in the game, such as sound, where the voices in Senua’s head seem like they are authentic, to such an extent we can even contemplate it happening to ourselves.
They are able to do all this with the backing of the Wellcome Trust, who are a research charity that deal with mind related illnesses, in order to both help those with deal with mental illnesses, as well as raise awareness. One of the major aspects of this game is immersion, and being thrown into the world feeling what it’s like for people that have to live with this condition from day to day.
Hellblade is still without a release date, as the teams only numbers just over a dozen, but it is set for sometime this year with the hope to provide a different experience to mainstream ideas. We exist in an ever changing world where games can make us feel as if we are playing in a real world, with multiple senses being engaged. It’s a pity that Hellblade isn’t on the list of the games for PlayStation VR, which would have made it a true Virtual experience. However, Hellblade will seemingly be able to provide users with the same type of experience without VR, if possible, this game is something for people to keep an eye on.