Die too much in Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice and it’ll erase your save

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Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is the first “AAA” indie from the makers of Heavenly Sword, Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, and DmC: Devil May Cry.

It’s a beautiful game that explores Senua’s personal journey through a hellish underworld made up of her own psyche. Exploring mental illness through video games is something that’s been done before in games like Eternal Darkness – but it’s a greater focus here. Its developers have worked with neuroscientists and psychologists to put the spotlight on mental illness, without being disparaging.

But it’s tackling that focus in what could be a divisive way. As Senua progresses through her fractured psyche, death hangs over her. When she falls to it, a dark, oily corruption spreads up her arms. Once that corruption reaches her head, it’s game over – but not in the traditional, oh I’ll just load my savegame sense.

If you die too much in the game, your saved game is erased. Gone. Permanently. As a gimmick, it’s a neat one – and works as a signal of Senua just giving up fighting her inner demons. On the other hand, an early (now pulled!) review suggests that in later stages of the game, there are undefeatable enemies – which means that there’s a possibility that you could make your way to the close of the game, only to fall too often to impervious enemies and as a result have your progress wiped.

While this harkens back to the arcade gaming days of yore, as an increasingly old working bloke this sort of thing could actually dissuade me from playing. Ain’t nobody got time for dat. thankfully, the game does have a number of difficulty options, including one that scales to your performance.

Reviews have just started coming through for the game – and it seems to be faring well.

Last Updated: August 8, 2017

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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