Set in the 8th century at the crossroads between the Celtic and Norse “relationships,” Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is a realistic picture of mental illness through a literal journey into Hell. As Senua, a lone survivor in Pict, you’ll traverse the depths of Norse mythology and her conflicted mind in search of the purity and soul of the one she loves. While Senua’s unsettling mentality is at the heart of the game, the gameplay combines environmental puzzles and visceral sword fights.
Parry With Precision
Block versus fool is Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice‘s quintessential risk-reward, a moment of pause for those who still consider the investment they committed to achieving the title. Is the perfect parry a strategic preference or a minimum requirement? We evaluate the learning curve in terms of time, the accuracy of the game’s hit detection, and how much waste we were able to stick to when crushing the button.
Hellblade split the difference on parrying. Battles are still in your favor with a full defensive deck, though using dodge works interchangeably against those intentionally unfamiliar. A large window separates the strong winds from the fish. Track the stun phase extensively with a heavy counter, and if the shoreline is clear, combine 3 pieces. Senua’s peripheral vision voice will often signal the exact moment to scour enemies on your flank, allowing you to hide countless times if you catch it quickly.
Senua’s Swiftness – Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
What Senua lacks in strength and stature, she trades for mobility. Using the dodge command is your safety net, providing an opportunity to form a strategy or keep spam panics out of a crowd of Northmen.
While dodging, you are unaffected by most damage, allowing you to escape attack zones without the need for long-range vision or interception accuracy. With a basic command, Senua avoids falling behind, while dodging in a useful direction based on the direction of your enemies or yourself in the arena. Better still, double-tap to dodge allows you to cover a greater distance for desperate escapes with weak health, or reset to reevaluate.
Observe and Retort
Popular among walking sims, games without the HUD will keep you hooked with less distraction, making them the most immersive in Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice. Unlike the stillness of the art galleries of puzzlers Gone Home or The Witness, Hellblade’s minimalism is the grotesque picture that makes a strong comeback.
Without a health bar or reminders, it’s hard to tell how close death is, which intentionally stresses players out. Sharp eyes are important because blurry screens or difficult character movements are signs of fading life. After Senua doubles in and the camera shapes her visible fear, press the button to stand in front of your feet and retreat or tighten your defenses after the deal. Visual cues also reveal enemies talking to each other, prompting accordingly, or dodging. Finally, notice the mirror near Senua’s hip. The blue halo indicates up to three focus charges, your lifeline for survival, and a supporter for onslaughts.
Combo R&D – Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
While simple, by comparison, Hellblade parallels the skipping of From Software’s pre-Sekiro tutorials. With a non-existent user interface and unwavering commitment to immersion, the most guidance you’ll find is on pause screen button assignments. Combinations and special attacks discovered (or not) through testing are best practiced in forgivable first battles.
Combinations vary by light and heavy attacks, limited only to knocking back staggered enemies and their ability to interrupt light attacks. Combined with melee attacks expands combos as well, especially on shielded enemies or those rushing to attack. Some combinations are more suitable for effective damage and retreat while others are best suited for closing in on slowed swordsmen in the middle of the focus. Attacking after dodging and while sprinting also adds variety to attacks at different angles and distances.