There is something better in how the immediacy of video games can lead to places that other media cannot. Or at least not so effective. Your control and occupation of someone else; they are experienced what they do is not so easy to achieve in film. Often this is used for fulfillment of wishes; the hero play in a digital power fantasy. It is less common for games to be unsatisfactory, where areas of human condition are more often regarded as taboo.
That’s a point of departure that makes the Ninbine Theory’s Hellblade so fascinating, at least in the concept if it’s not the performance. A normal adventure that explores the effects of intense mental illness is totally uncomfortable with its disposal to supernatural, yet it is undeniable. It’s sad, frightening and heartbreaking, but just as often boring and incorrect. A strange, disturbing game that I am happy I played, but I have little desire to do this again. In some ways that is the point. In others? Not so much.
“You are Senua, a young Pict Warrior who is banned from her village to the surrounding forests because she is hit by” darkness “, a crucial Celtic interpretation of psychosis. Those suffering from mental illness should find fines in captivity, keep their “darkness” of their family and tribes until they are hunted by reflection and time. But when Senua returns, she finds her village in ruins, burns and destroyed by Viking Northmen; Her partner, Dillion, tortured and polluted. The task she herself is to save Dillion’s soul, take a figurative journey through hell’s gate to find some kind of salvation.
Senua’s psychosis is in front of and the center of Hellblade. Voices constantly talking in her head, encouraging her (“you can do Senua”), goading her (“she’s going to die”), guiding her (“finding another way”). The effect is quite disorientating, binaural 3D sound swirls when Senua draws through landscapes ranging from beautiful to lonely and grotesque. Beautiful meadows, a stormy ship cemetery, a corridor of corpses. Hellblade is a beautifully produced and remarkably attractive game, but what are environments in appearance may be in interaction; Firmly closed corridors in the open air.
Within these environments, Senua sees symbols everywhere: the shape of runes formed by a sloping tree branch or cracked wooden platforms. Often she burns them in the doors, blocks her away until she can find them close, adjusting her perspective so that seemingly unrelated objects are the symbol she has in her mind. “The runes mean nothing,” interferes with one of the voices, but Senua remains. It’s an interesting concept, using Senua’s symptoms to create perspective puzzles around the world. But in practice they can be unclear in all the wrong ways, with the blurred environmental design (can I climb this waist high wall or not?) And overflow sections that cause a tedium feel.
Hellblade has the habit of drawing out his otherwise good ideas. This imbalance is a pity, because sometimes the trip may be intoxicating. Searing colors and fragmented, hyperactive visions drill into your mind and attack the senses, while passages of silence quickly shift into brutally intense pursuits and fights. When hunting the Norwegian god Surt, the world can suddenly be abducted, fire resembles Senua’s boots as they sprint for safety. Other times you are immersed in darkness, based on sound and glimmer of light to pass without falling victim to a subsequent beast.
Also the fight is bright and claustrophobic. Ninja Theory has a history of top-level hack and slash and you can translate it into something that is measured more here. Battles are more like duels, with deformed North American warriors lying on the sword-moving Senua. She can parry and counter-attack, but has to keep her enemies in sight because they do not wait to take a swing on her. It will not be everyone’s taste but is brutal and fluid, offset by some clever ideas of oneself. The voices clash during fights, shout “behind you” when an invisible enemy launches an attack, turn off encouragement and guidance when swords and shields collide. There is a lack of variation in enemies and your own approach, mitigated by fights that are small and far apart, as often overwhelming when they arrive.
This is Hellblade’s goal to make his players overwhelming and restless, presumably as an attempt to restore the mental fatigue of Senua’s psychosis. When demonstrating symptoms, Hellblade can be very effective, enhanced by a remarkable achievement by Melina Juergens as Senua and the group of actors behind the voices in her mind. Ninja Theory expertly transports both footage and sound to address the senses that can lead to some. No wonder the game contains a psychological warning.
But this depends on who is the picture of mental illnesses of Hellblade. When it comes to non-sufferers, it succeeds in imaging symptoms rather than investigating the research. Ninja Theory has clearly done his homework, with a featurette included with the play with the praise of mental health specialists, who explores fries, delusions and hallucinations. But if Senua only goes on her journey, her effect on her interaction with the world, apart from the companionship of her voices, is reduced to fragments and short flashbacks. And by the end of Hellblade’s eight o’clockshe drives her so firmly into the world of supernatural that you feel that the game has lost sight of what it intends to achieve.
That does not mean that Hellblade is a valuable and effective experience, but it is also not immune to more traditional concerns. It is probably best summarized by a fight with an animal in the denial of the game: a stifling battle in the dark, interrupted by violent attacks on the senses that last for ten minutes, thereby losing its shine in the process . In turn exciting, frightening, thoughtful, thoughtless and annoying. A strange game indeed.