7 Years Later, Hellblade Makes a Bold Return and Shakes Up the Video Game World

Game news 7 years later, Hellblade returns to slap us in the face and brutally shakes up the video game planet


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It is finally here ! 7 years after the release of the first part, almost 5 years after its official announcement, Senua's Saga: Hellblade 2 is finally available on Xbox Series X|S and PC. Obviously, after all these years of waiting and trailers that are always prettier than the others, the software developed by Ninja Theory is expected around the corner. Senua responds with a good right to the teeth!


Hellblade 2: The Test Video

This article accompanies the release of our Test Video accessible in auto-play at the top of this page

A new standard in the industry

You can forget everything that represented the peak of realism and animation in our video games until now. Senua has just eliminated all its small competitors who claimed to be “photorealistic. Graphically, Senua's Saga: Hellblade II seems to be the first true next-gen experience, at least visually, since the releases of the Xbox Series/PS5. Where to start ? The textures are detailed, the modeling is impeccable, the special effects are precise. Above all, the facial expressions are incredibly realistic and give the impression of being face to face with real human beings. The looks are full of life, the emotions are faithfully transcribed without causing an uncanny valley. The movements of the hair, the folds of the clothes, the contractions of the muscles… everything is perfect.

The environments are also impressive, although a bit frozen. The panoramas are superb and there is relief everywhere, even on the ground. This stunning result is due to the use of photogrammetry, coupled with the good taste of Ninja Theory artists who have mastered Unreal Engine 5. This technical demonstration is not spoiled by any interface element on the screen, even if the black bands which appear on the 16:9 screens do not may not be to everyone's taste. In terms of the soundscape, it’s also mind-blowing. The sounds are numerous and extremely detailed. The music is superb, especially during the increasingly nightmarish combat phases. In addition, the acting is credible, with perfect lip sync, in VOST only.

Crazy staging

After defying the Gods to save the soul of her beloved, Senua wants to continue to respect her promise: to help the victims of the horrors of tyranny. Her little extra thing is that she hears voices in her head. The heroine is in fact suffering from psychosis: she perceives things that others do not imagine. Drawing on academic work as well as the experiences of people suffering from psychosis, the software published by Microsoft is not aimed at everyone. It does not rely on any narrative crutch facilitating identification.

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Ninja Theory's software requires first-rate staging. The cinematic/gameplay transitions are imperceptible, some sequences are among the most impressive ever seen in our video games, and the title allows intelligent ellipses which do not interrupt the action. It is especially the combat which experiences the most spectacular changes. While they tended to drag on and be relatively messy in the first episode, this sequel makes them more impressive and cinematic than ever. If in substance they remain quite close to what we have known with light/violent blows, parries, dodges and fury, in form, on the other hand, they take the form of real deliciously brutal choreographies. These meetings are now done in 1v1, but the opponents follow each other as if everything had been recorded in a single take in a motion capture studio. To put it simply, the duels seem to come from a real action film choreographed down to the second. It's sensational, even if everything is very scripted.

7 years later, Hellblade returns to slap us in the face and brutally shakes up the video game planet

An experience reserved for fans of 100% narrative games

You will surely have understood, Hellblade 2 is never seen before graphically on consoles. And that’s great for the genre it serves. The creation of Ninja Theory remains a strictly narrative, linear experience, made up of corridors, fights, puzzles and cutscenes.. The software retains the formula of its predecessor by only evolving certain points and should in no case be considered as a God of War: Ragnarok, to name but one. Senua has no grappling hook or bow. She does not jump freely, and cannot improve her characteristics. No side quest is included in this headlong rush.

7 years later, Hellblade returns to slap us in the face and brutally shakes up the video game planet7 years later, Hellblade returns to slap us in the face and brutally shakes up the video game planet

The game takes the form of a straight line, more than in any Quantic Dream title, and recalls software such as The Order 1886 and Ryse: Son of Rome. The impression of unfolding a large interactive cinematic scene is there, an impression unfortunately supported by striking sequences where there are too few things to do with the pad in the hands, like the famous scene of the giant revealed at the Game Awards 2021. This is surely the price to pay to benefit from the most visually accomplished narrative experience to date. Regarding the puzzles, the latter have been revised for a less invasive result than in the first episode.

7 years later, Hellblade returns to slap us in the face and brutally shakes up the video game planet

Senua's Saga: Hellblade II succeeds in its crazy challenge of being a visual slap in the face.next-gen” initially promised. More condensed, more violent too, Ninja Theory's work ultimately changes little from the original formula but delivers a mind-blowing sensory experience, without a bad pun. To enjoy it, however, you must accept the fact that it is a 100% narrative game with minimalist gameplay and straight-line exploration. It is available in Game Pass, or at the price of 49.99 euros only in digital version.

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