Video Game Heroine of the Month: Senua, Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice

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Apr 7, 2018

Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice is coming to Xbox One this month, after previously only being available on PlayStation 4 and PC this past August. It's a "triple-A independent game" from Ninja Theory that tried a variety of interesting gameplay quirks, and while it doesn't necessarily succeed with all of them, it did birth an intriguing new character in the form of the titular Senua. 

Hellblade follows Senua, a young woman who's on a quest to retrieve the lost soul of her lover, and let's leave it at that for the sake of spoiling things. Senua suffers from mental illness, and while the game does a better job of telling you how much it cares about "accuracy" when depicting those suffering from things like schizophrenia than showing you, it also features some pretty cool effects that accompany you and Senua along the way. It's in no way a perfect game, but I found the somewhat broken but strong Senua a fascinating example of what make a typical female protagonist. 

Senua appears meek, beaten down by guilt and depression over the death of her boyfriend Dillion at the beginning of the game, but despite being pelted by both visual and auditory hallucinations at every turn, she soldiers forward. It's not that Senua had to deal with mental illness only, as she was also pelted by physical and mental abuse from her own father and even the village she lived in.

She sets off on a journey to make things right after a tragedy befalls her beloved, and while it seems fruitless, as she's alone and hardly armed, you somehow believe she can truly make it. As the voices in her head clamor for her to pack up and turn tail in the opposite direction, she doesn't listen to them. But oddly, when they offer combat advice or helpful information, she does. It's an odd relationship, sometimes symbiotic. In that, she's a curious character that's difficult to pin down or even relate with, especially when certain truths come to light. 

Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice is a mind-bending, trippy adventure, especially when it reaches its climax at the end. It's downright terrifying, especially from Senua's point of view, but the fact that despite dealing with psychosis the entire time she still manages to find her journey's end is admirable. She's a haunting creature with a complex history, and that's why she deserves to be April's Video Game Heroine of the Month. And if you haven't played Hellblade, it's definitely worth a quick weekend glance to meet her, especially now that it's also come to Xbox One.