The story is about a girl, Senua from a Tribe based on Celtic and Norse mythology as she embarks on a very personal journey through a hellish underworld made up of Senua’s psychotic manifestations of her reality and mind.
The game is brand new game released in digital format on PS4, PC & Steam on the 8th August 2017. It immediately grabbed my interest with its beautiful graphics, interesting storytelling methods and of course its incredible but also intentionally ambiguous story.
One of the many interesting concepts of the game is that all the while you play a dark rot is growing on Senua’s arm, each time you ‘die’ this goes further up her arm resulting in limited lives for the player. If the rot reaches her head, the game is over, all progress is lost and you are forced to start all over. To be honest to start with it freaked me out a little, I am not a great battle player and it often takes me several attempts to win. However firstly the rot moves slowly, secondly it actually gave a sense of urgency, reality and of course true consequence to death. In the end so far I have found this something surprisingly enjoyable.
Another interesting fact is the ‘warning’ placed at the beginning of the game – I have read it for you in the introductory video, explaining about how they have tried to achieve a real feeling of psychosis by consulting sufferers, drs and by using some great technical tricks not least of which was the ‘3D’ sound. It is quite unnerving. Before we get going on the game itself I thought you might enjoy a little behind the scenes video put out by the actress, Melina Juergins, about becoming Senua. There are a lot more behind the scenes videos here if you are interested to see the actual making of the game process.
Before we start here some pointers that may be helpful:-
there are no specific named areas in the game so I cannot give you headings for these locations as you would normally I will do my best to make it clear where we are and of course you will have the videos which are the main resource anyhow.
as mentioned above Senua is marked by the darkness so every time she dies the mark on her arm grows. If the darkness reaches her head, the game will end, and you will be returned to the beginning of the game, losing all progress to date. However the mark does grow slowly and my understanding is that the farther it gets the slower it grows. I also understand that the game adjusts itself to you and your skill (make sure you have difficulty set on auto for this to happen) so if a particular part is difficult for you the game will adjust the difficulty itself.
the game has a lot of riddles which are mostly centred around the runes and finding the symbol, using portals to alter the reality and completing objects with missing parts.
there are two types of collectables in the game:- there are the monuments with runes in a glowing circle (these show the ones you have found in white) but also there is the hidden face of Senua’s mother, she tends to blends in so you need to hunt for it in the environment.
Something I discovered by accident and then researched and that isn’t frankly that obvious is the focus key when in combat. As I understand it, and to be honest in my case I just keep pressing every button including focus in the hope that some of them might kill the enemy lol! But the official way of working this mode is when you manage to get a good combo or other great moves in combat this glowing rune will appear on the screen. This lets you know that you’re able to enter the focus mode by pressing the right key, which will slow down time. That can be very useful, especially during boss fights – sometimes some enemies are immune to attacks, and the only way to hurt them is in focus.
Again my style of combat does not really involve any sort of method however if you are skilful enough you can in fact perform what is known as a perfect block. I have managed this accidentally a few times and it is very satisfying to see Senua block then immediately give a great riposte of strong combination of attacks or to deflect an attack towards the enemy.
Senua can also kick. I havent worked out the how on this but it seems to be part of an attack combo.
Senua can charge an enemy during an attack by pressing the sprint button during a fight – combined with a strong or fast attack.
This is not something I have quite mastered yet and has been the cause of a lot of my early deaths so it is definitely worth noting that If Senua gets knocked down you can press the attack keys in order to make her stand up and continue the fight.
Your combat buttons can be combined together to make some battle combos for eg. Light, Light, Heavy, Light leads into a special extra hit, where Senua stabs her foe, and launches herself away by kicking off of their body.
Dodging and sprinting while attacking gets some great new attack options inc Senua kicking out at the enemy.
Blocking will reduce the damage from attacks, however be aware that it will drain your stamina. Once that happens you leave yourself open to damage while you recover.
Countering involves blocking just at the right moment, and will open most enemies up to big damage.
I mentioned above what I called 3D sound effects, well to really experience this to the full and therefore the game as it was intended then I would highly recommend you play this whilst wearing headphones. You really are then able to feel that the voices in Senua’s head are in yours. I cannot recommend doing this enough.
This is just some starting hints and tips and I am sure there will be more I can add as we go along. for e.g. combat tips for different enemies and big boss enemies too. I have to say it will probably be a case of do as I say not as I do as frankly as I always say to you guys, I am just a regular gamer, not one of these fancy smancy ones and my skill levels are usually just at the point of bash every button in multiple orders and hope for the best lol!
Hellblade Senua’s Sacrifice – The Road to Hel
The games set in a world of Celts & Vikings inspired by legends & stories from the history here in the UK. The main character, Senua, is a female warrior who embarks on this dangerous journey to the land of the dead. Throughout the story she will face many enemies on her journey.
Do not forget my stories Senua because, your darkness comes from Hel and your fate lies there. They say the burning of a corpse will take you straight to Hela’s gate, But Gods and the living will follow this path. You must leave the Isles of Orkney across the Eastern sea and find a road that leads North and down through deep dark valleys. After 9 nights of riding you will follow a great river and find a bridge covered in gold, the path to Helheim goes from there. Across the river of knives that flows from the dark world of Niflheim.
So we start out with Senua in a tree canoe, paddling to the Northlands. As she paddles you will hear for the first time the voices that haunt her that are in her mind. You need to listen to these as they can help you. When you reach the shoreline and exits the boat you are then in control. Near you there is a monument stone with the rune circle above it, go to it and use the focus button and you will hear a little excerpt of story. Walk forward along the path, jump over the log and into water. As you walk the darkness literally starts chasing you – run straight ahead following the light. Then suddenly it opens up, lit up and you can see the beach and the bridge to Hellheim.
Walk down and across the beach, on the left there is cove sitting back from the main area. In it you will find another rune stone with another fragment of story, then on the right of it is some wooden steps. Go up the stairs, then take the ladder and follow the path until you reach a footbridge. Walk across but watch your balance, you need to use both forward motion and line of sight to keep your equilibrium, if you don’t Senua will fall. Continue following the path, drop down and continue along the path until you reach the gate with a symbol on it. Senua’s inner voices will tell her to focus on it, this is your cue to use the focus button.
In order to be able to proceed you will have to find the symbol in the cave. When you find it, focus on it and then the gates will open. Walk along the pathway, take the ladder up and go across the narrow footbridge. Up the steps, across another footbridge and then on the other side you will see another Rune Stone. Follow the path, down a ladder, then a jump down, followed by a crouch under low rock and into open area. Go to the big gates on your left and attempt to open them. This will instigate a cut scene with Senua which leads into our first battle.
This is relatively easy one and a good opportunity to practice your moves. You cannot actually defeat these enemies and soon you will go to a cut-scene. This is the point that the black rot appears on Senua’s arm and the significance is explained. The cut scene continues to explain that you need to defeat these two gods, Valravn and Surt. I did initially go through the gate at the back for Surt but somehow I did not quite do something so actually turned around and went through the gate for Valravn. Check out the Rune stone before moving on for info on both Valvarvn and Surt.
Go through the door to Surt’s domain. Follow the path and as you get to the bridge on the left is the waterfall. Look hard and you will see a face. This is the face of Senua’s mother. Focus and she will interact with Senua. This is one of the collectables and you will find a few of these around. However most of the time it blends in with the environment and takes some effort to be seen. Carry walking towards the fire bowls lit each side of the gate up ahead. The darkness will be following you. As you approach to open area you will get in a fight. Again compared to what will follow it is not too hard a battle and once they are dead, the light will return.
You can then approach the gate, focus and see the runes. You will be told you need to find these, so search the area and when you find them focus on them to ‘grab’ them. Before you go back to the gate look around the area, you will find a cave with a rune stone in. Then when you have finished looking about go to the gate, activate the runes you have found by focusing on the gate. Once you have done that you should be able to open it. For some reason I couldn’t, I assume I haven’t done something correctly. Anyway instead of fiddling around I made the decision to return and go through the other gate and challenge ….
From the courtyard go through the gate to Valravn’s domain. Follow the path until you reach the next gate. Go through and up the steps until you reach some stone gates that have the Valravn rune on it on your left. Go to it and then ‘focus’ on it. At this point there will be a cut scene explaining about Valravn and warning you not to trust your eyes as Valravn is an enemy of illusion.
Leave the Stone and go up and around on the path until your reach a bridge that you will need to push down. Push it down and then cross it. Up here you will see a lit archway that is a portal and all part of Valravn’s illusion. This is one of the things that Valravn does and when you see these it is worth walking through and then looking back as these often change the reality and give you access to the next section so you can move on.
Here when you walk through the arch you will see the stone gate with the rune on will disappear. Walk through there and then up the spiral stone steps. At the top you will find a wooden ladder. Climb it. Go to the big gate and open it. Go through into the courtyard, here you will see some gates on your left. When you approach them, enemies will appear, you will need to kill them to move on.
So that is it for today, I hope you have enjoyed the first few episodes of our brand new Lets Play. Come back soon to see what happens next to our heroine Senua.