Independent games development sometimes gives big names the freedom to do something they possibly could never achieve with a publisher. Ninja Theory is a big hitter in the AAA scene, but their upcoming, independent former PS4 exclusive is giving them breathing room. While Hellblade certainly looks to be a trademark title from the studio, it’s going to tackle some rather sensitive topics.
You play as Senua – a Celtic warrior who has been mentally traumatised by a horrific viking expedition. Hellblade picks up shortly after, with the almost real manifestation of hell that Senua has to survive coming from the one place she doesn’t have grips over – her mind. Ninja Theory not only wants to tell a compelling story, but also allow Hellblade to actually help those trying to cope with mental illnesses of their own.
They understand the topic is still rather taboo, but made it clear that it’s being approached with the utmost importance and sensitivity. They’ve been working with a professor of neuroscience for reference, as well as collecting stories from people who have had experience with mental health difficulties. All of this care has also sourced the support of the Wellcome Trust – a charity dedicated to the greater public understanding of health and science.
It’s a topic that seems to be wrapped in some trademark hack and slash gameplay – even if this won’t be on the levels of DmC and the like. There’s brief glimpses of gameplay in the game’s E3 trailer, but I do hope there’s more to see at the show next week. Mental health isn’t a topic that’s been properly explored in gaming, but I have to admit that Ninja Theory seem to be onto something special here.
Although, the execution is going to have to be something truly remarkable. Regardless, I’m excited to see where this leads. Hellblade is coming to PS4 and PC.
Last Updated: June 11, 2015