Ninja Theory's "triple-A" indie game Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice, is now available on Xbox One in addition to PlayStation 4. While it clumsily handles some issues relating to mental illness, all in all it's still worth playing as an intriguing experience that's short but incredibly sweet.
Senua travels all the way to the border of Helheim on a quest to retrieve her dead boyfriend's soul. She's also carrying around his severed head in a bag, too, so there's that. There's a lot more to it than just dead guys and missing souls, of course, but that's the crux of her difficult journey. It's filled with perils, including puzzles you must solve by seeking out hidden runes in areas, taking on horrific foes, and facing Senua's truest demons deep down inside.
Senua believes she's under the influence of a curse, and refers to the voices she hears in her head as "Furies," or a part of the illness she's suffering from. While some are supportive and help her along her way to figuring out what's going on with Dillion, others are terrifying and tear her down at every opportunity.
While the game has its flaws, it’s an enjoyable adventure, despite being incredibly linear. Weirdly enough, the game doesn’t encourage exploration. In fact, there are no collectibles to speak of beyond activating all the lorestones scattered throughout each area, and you can’t get lost as you're propelled along a singular path as Senua delves deeper and deeper into her own nightmarish delusions.
Occasionally you’ll be interrupted by a few battles with what can be described as shadow demons, armed with Senua’s sword. Combat feels like an absolute dream, some of the best Ninja Theory has crafted so far, so it’s a shame that you only fight the same boring creatures a few times so few and far between. But with all the risks it takes, it ends up landing some interesting hits as well.
On top of an enjoyable play experience, you get the added bonus a good cause. Ninja Theory will be donating cash to charity Mental Health America if it manages to hit a target number of copies sold by April 18. If it ends up selling 50,000 copies by April 18 on Xbox One, the studio will donate a whopping $25,000 to charity. If the game sells 100,000 copies, the charity will receive $50,000. Previously the company sent a good amount of cash over to the UK's Mental Health Awareness Day.
If you're still chugging along and playing the game on PlayStation 4, you're in luck with a new update coming down the pipeline. There's a PlayStation 4 Pro update to include HDR for a vision of Senua that pops coming soon, too.