Ninja Theory’s upcoming 2016 game ‘Hellblade’ was previously said to take place in a hellish nightmare world. In their latest trailer released at E3, it has now been revealed that this Hell is not the literal Hell, but instead created from Senua’s, the protagonist, mental illness.
Here is a description of the game provided with the trailer that sums it up nicely:
Senua experiences psychosis, including hallucinations and delusions, as well as suffering from anxiety and depression. As a player you will witness Senua’s living nightmare through her own eyes.
Ninja Theory also released an entire video (part of their ‘development diary’ series) dedicated to explaining how Senua’s mental illness effects the gameplay, development, and overall story, and the research that Ninja Theory put in to get it all right.
In this video they explain that while Senua deals with a variety of mental illnesses, they mainly derive from a form of psychosis. Her hallucinations and delusions make up the game world and is purposefully meant to confuse the player (and, in turn, Senua) on what is real, and what is imagined. One way this effects the game is its characters: so far, it appears that the only characters, besides the monsters Senua fights and Senua herself, are all different voices in her mind, sometimes appearing to her in physical form. These voices range from a small, feminine child’s voice, to a demonic sound male’s.
Her psychosis appears to derive from her experience with the Viking invasion of the Celts and the violence she witnessed and participated in during that event, but at one point in the video the demonic voice suggests that it might be genetic, or maybe manifested through her upbringing (“You’re just like your mother. Losing yourself to the abyss of fear”). Overall, it appears that how Senua’s mental illness is portrayed in ‘Hellblade’ will not be a straight forward experience for the player.
You can watch the development diary for yourself (which is filled with interviews, gameplay snippets, and concept art of Senua, the landscape, and the monsters she’ll face) right here:
‘Hellblade’ will be out sometime in 2016 for the Playstation 4 and Windows PC. Previously, ‘Hellblade’ was said to release in 2015, but it now appears to have been pushed back to 2016. There is still no official release date.