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Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice Discussion - Spoilers

  • Information
    Posted on 01 December 18 at 00:01
    Welcome back to another TA Playlist month. Use this thread to speak freely about Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice and assume anything goes in here.
  • AwooAwoo2,067,371
    Posted on 01 December 18 at 11:11
    Good game, but often overrated to a ridiculous degree. I don't blame anyone for thinking that the story is great if this is the first time you encounter a narrative of this type, but please do not assume this is as good as it gets. This concept has been done before and much better by other games and media, and if you like this, I highly suggest exploring other stories dealing with mental illness and personal tragedy (Silent Hill 2, Spec Ops: The Line, Oyasumi Punpun to name a few) before gushing about this being the greatest thing ever. Always look deeper.

    That said, it's still a solid game. Some environments look absolutely amazing in 4k, and I do think the ending is quite nicely done, not compromising in order to create an overly happy or sad conclusion.

    As for why I don't think the narrative is that great, it comes down to a few simple things, the biggest one being a complete lack of subtlety. This game is horribly desperate to make sure you know exactly what's going on and how to feel at any given time, and rarely leaves any room for interpretation. The "inner voices" constantly tormenting Senua are a big problem in this regard. If you took those out, and just let you go through the game having to pay attention and interpret for yourself what's happening and why, this could have turned into a much richer, more engaging ans sophisticated narrative, at least for me.

    The second problem is how overly long and bloated the game is. You could easily cut out half the content and end up with a much tighter and focused experience, at no great loss of story details. Many areas serve little narrative purpose and just feel like they're there to pad out the play time, with far too plentiful and drawn out enemy gauntlets that quickly become a chore. The puzzles are also mostly clumsily woven into the levels with no regards to pacing, and tend to really break up the flow of the game in a bad way, while also managing to become stale and repetitive with how many there are of them. A few are pretty cool though, even if the most interesting idea is stolen straight from Arkham Asylum.

    My third issue is how pretentious the presentation is. This is more of a personal gripe, but when I see the taglines on Steam boasting about how the game was made with input from real psychologists and the like, I kinda just cringe. Coming from someone who's suffered from a lot of these issues for a long tie, many parts of this game feel disingenuous and dishonest, like someone who's never actually gone through depression and whatnot just telling you their over-dramatized version of what they think it's like. Doki Doki Literature Club perfectly conveyed in less than a minute of written dialogue the terror of living with depression (and by extension, many other mental maladies) in a way that instantly hits far too close to home, and that is something I never felt from this game, even though a lot of the concepts at work here are things I should be able to relate to. It just feels plastic and impersonal, with a few momentary exceptions throughout, particularly the ending like I said. Don't get me wrong, I'm not doubting a lot of this story came from personal experience, but it's not executed in a way that makes it feel like it.

    Finally, I'd like to preemptively tell anyone to piss off if they intend to give me the old "this is amazing since it came from a small studio" bullshit. Ninja Theory is a former AAA (or at the very least AA and a half) developer with lots of experience and technical competence, and you can be assured their budget was far beyond that of any actual indie developer. Apples and oranges.

    Still a good game, well worth playing. 3.5/5.
    What can change the nature of a man?
  • Posted on 01 December 18 at 21:23
    It's decent, but heavily plagued by annoying puzzles that, in my opinion really ruined the immersion.

    Overall, it was a decent experience.
  • AllgorhythmAllgorhythm634,098
    Posted on 02 December 18 at 03:26
    Ostrowidzki1989 said:
    It's decent, but heavily plagued by annoying puzzles that, in my opinion really ruined the immersion.

    Overall, it was a decent experience.
    I agree. I played it on the PS4. It is a visual feast. I think the puzzles detracted from the story. The game is not long--a ten hour completion give or take.
  • te5s3raktte5s3rakt526,036
    Posted on 02 December 18 at 14:00, Edited on 06 December 18 at 10:27 by te5s3rakt
    I actually loved playing something gritty set in a viking setting. And graphics were fantastic.
    Wonder how a game would play in the same world, set for someone else's point of view from her tribe (was it a tribe she had?).
    Could've dropped the collectables. Although the audio that played with each was interesting, I would have rather not having had to find a collectable to hear it.
  • Posted on 12 December 18 at 23:08
    Ostrowidzki1989 said:
    It's decent, but heavily plagued by annoying puzzles that, in my opinion really ruined the immersion.

    Overall, it was a decent experience.
    Are the puzzles actually "annoying" or are they difficult?
  • CasperTCCasperTC871,544
    Posted on 15 December 18 at 00:36
    Loved the big musical finish with the final fight. A good soundtrack can really impact gameplay - would have been boring if anybody played with it muted.
  • Cylon 118Cylon 118584,674
    Posted on 15 December 18 at 07:34
    CasperTC said:
    Loved the big musical finish with the final fight. A good soundtrack can really impact gameplay - would have been boring if anybody played with it muted.
    Yeah that final fight more than the collectables made me wish there was a chapter select in this game as I really would like to give it a go a few more times without having to do the entire game again!
  • Posted on 15 December 18 at 15:40
    Mullet For Men said:
    Ostrowidzki1989 said:
    It's decent, but heavily plagued by annoying puzzles that, in my opinion really ruined the immersion.

    Overall, it was a decent experience.
    Are the puzzles actually {#}annoying{#} or are they difficult?
    70% annoying and 30% difficult. The idea is simple, you need to find an X (or whatever symbol) so you have to look around in the environment for that symbol. The problem is there are many places that I could find the symbol but don’t count and the I’ve seen some when the correct one wasn’t as close to the symbol as I would like.

    When you get close to where you need to be standing to see the symbol the game does let you know so that is one thing that makes this better.
  • Posted on 15 December 18 at 15:51
    Now that I’m done with the 12 days of Christmas contest I can finally join the playlist. I’m maybe halfway through the game. So far I really enjoy the story, I even like the collectibles because I enjoy the backstory.

    The combat is a bit repetitive but not too bad. I’m really glad they didn’t add health bars to anyone. In this type of game I just think that was a good move. I kind of get the feeling the game doesn’t want you to feel too comfortable while playing so no health bar adds to that feeling.

    I really like the voices, I can’t say I’ve played anything that has done this that well. I like the bickering with myself and the voices doubting the main character. So far the environments have been great to go through. Everything looks great, sounds good and I’m ready to finish this story.
  • SpiralOut46and2SpiralOut46and21,177,769
    Posted on 15 December 18 at 16:00
    I thought it was a beautiful game. :) The puzzles are sort of explained in the bonus material, as it shows some of the accounts where people explain how they hear voices, or see symbology in everything around them, or how reality fades in and out, how things blur, how they feel their surroundings closing in on them sometimes, etc. I thought it was a beautiful game anyway, but after watching that, everything made a lot more sense. Especially with the puzzles and how she would see symbols in the air and on the trees and feel a need to line them up perfectly.

    I really need to play Special Ops: The Line as well, though. I always hear amazing things about that game and it's been in my backlog for a couple of years. I've especially seen it recommended by Hellblade fans after the release of this game.
  • Removed Gamer

    Removed Gamer

    Posted on 15 December 18 at 20:39
    I usually see Spec Ops: The Line recommended by people (like myself) as an example of how a story like this can be portrayed in a much more powerful and memorable way. Here's another reminder that it's the TA Playlist game for next April!
    sorr yfor my england
  • Mental Knight 5Mental Knight 53,567,061
    Posted on 16 December 18 at 03:33
    The Journey So Far... I haven't read any Spoiler posts yet. I am loving the voices, in headphones. I don't find them "pretentious," I find simultaneously hearing several different takes on what's happening to be one of the only parts of this game that I enjoy, and a good use of the medium for, what feels to me like, innovative storytelling.

    I thought this game would be right up my alley, slam dunk, everything I'm a sucker for. I'm not confident anymore. I've spent about 5 hours on this "6-8 hour" game defeating the first 2 bosses. I was about to say I chose Combat Difficulty Easy, but apparently I forgot I wanted to see where "Auto" took me. I was expecting a short Souls-lite experience, just easier, with more direct and plentiful storytelling. I wasn't far off, but... dude wtf? I go quite a while without any enemies in sight, and when it's starting to become clear I'm about to face one, I wonder, "OMG is this the BOSS? Is this game JUST BOSSES without the FILLER?!? That would be awwwwwesome." Especially in a game with storytelling more in line with Walking Simulators than Action/Adventure. But no, they were just introducing me to the filler enemies. Wait, what, I'm being attacked and I don't even know what to press. So I treat it like Dark Souls. Well THAT SURE DOESN'T WORK. So I experiment and am lucky to soon find and get the hang of dodging. Even Dark Souls, the game we can't stop WORSHIPING for not holding the player's hand, tells you a few buttons to press when throwing you into your first combat. Fine, they're not going to do that, so while I probably could have finished up easily mashing X, I experiment to try to figure out what everything does and play properly. Experimenting leads to death. Death leads to the revelation that I have limited lives. IN 2018 I HAVE A LIMITED NUMBER OF LIVES. And they will not tell me what that number is. So the people who get the hang of it get rewarded with the rest of the game. The people who take longer to catch on, but still have the patience to keep trying, they get rewarded with a game over, start over? Here is clearly where I am supposed to say "Wow, what a bold choice, how artistic, it really adds to the narrative and enhances the immersive gameplay." Instead, I will call a spade a spade, and in 2018, we have a phrase for that: bad game design.

    I think how you can tell the difference between filler and actual gameplay experience is whether you can look back in 5 years and say "I remember enjoying the part of the game where you ___." I don't HATE it, but, I'm not really loving finding the runes. Did anyone truly like it? It may be me personally, I'm kind of puzzle-averse, but it feels like busy-work. No variation, just filler. Just like combat so far.

    Did anyone enjoy backtracking through the first two levels after beating the bosses? With no shortcuts? In 2018? Or might it just be our old friend bad game design?

    If you have an emotional narrative game and you hate that you have to incorporate achievements in today's climate, I get you, I do. I don't SUPPORT you, because I want my achievements, but I get you if you don't want players focusing on stupid shit while you're trying to tell your story. But then you go and throw a missable collectible achievement in there. So which is it, do you want players immersed in your narrative and setting, or obsessed with the collectibles and probably using a guide, taking them OUT of the raw experience, because they are terrified of missing one because you PLANTED COLLECTIBLES AND DON'T HAVE A LEVEL SELECT. IN TWENTY EIGHTEEN. I know there's a phrase for that, but I'm blanking on it at the moment.
  • Removed Gamer

    Removed Gamer

    Posted on 16 December 18 at 03:40
    There is no actual permadeath, it's just the developers messing with you
    sorr yfor my england
  • ChewieOnIceChewieOnIce1,813,364
    Posted on 16 December 18 at 09:02
    Yeh that whole thing is part of the unreliable narrator shtick. The corruption spreads at fixed points in the game, not based on deaths.
    @ChewieOnIce | NewsHound | 'Please don't kill us.' 'Please don't make it so appealing'
  • Mental Knight 5Mental Knight 53,567,061
    Posted on 16 December 18 at 16:50
    SpiralGamerpro said:
    There is no actual permadeath, it's just the developers messing with you
    ChewieOnIce said:
    Yeh that whole thing is part of the unreliable narrator shtick. The corruption spreads at fixed points in the game, not based on deaths.
    You know, the teeniest sliver of me held out hope that somehow it wasn't the case. Or maybe just maybe didn't apply if you were on Easy? The devs broke their own immersion to halt everything and make sure the player understood this. They were very convincing.

    Update: Awwwwww yeah, if you had ANY idea how many times I've dreamed of slaying gods with nothing but Grammar... this is gonna be epic.
  • Mental Knight 5Mental Knight 53,567,061
    Posted on 17 December 18 at 00:37
    Maybe I've played through too many of these things, seen too many twists, but I had the story wrong. I thought it was pretty apparent that Senua was from our setting, picturing herself in the Celtic/Norse setting. Dillion looked and sounded so normal/modern, and I could have sworn he was in a t-shirt. But no, I watched the thingy, and the way they describe it, she and her family are what she says they are.

    There were like, ten combat encounters, Awoo feels there were way too many, and I have to agree! laugh I know this is contradictory, but throughout the game, when THINKING about it, I felt that combat was bland and repetitive and tacked on, with astonishingly little variety. When ENGAGED in it though, when playing Mike Tyson's Punch Out with those suckers, I kinda dug it. It was never fair and I was getting hit in the back every three seconds, but it was visceral and kinda satisfying. You're not just whipping something until orbs pop out of it; you're all up IN IT.

    I agree, no health bars, no HUD at all actually, was a pretty obvious choice, but I'm glad they made it.

    Yes, I also loved the final battle's clamor demurring to the musical score, like that John Woo stuff I'm a sucker for. It worked on me.

    Like I said, I'm not the biggest puzzle nut, but yeah, those were annoying, tedious, homework. AGAIN, surprisingly little variation. In a game about the protagonist's tenuous relationship with the objective world, they showed so little creativity with the number of puzzle types. Even Pneuma has more world-altering puzzle solutions. Even Limbo. Even Rememoried. This puzzle variety would feel more at home in Need For Speed: Payback.

    I would forgive bland puzzles if the game were really about combat; I would forgive bland combat if the game were really about puzzles. It's neither. It's a walking simulator, a pretty good one, with both the other things crammed in.

    I've heard good things about the Enslaved in my backlog and am looking forward to it.
  • Posted on 17 December 18 at 01:30
    ChewieOnIce said:
    Yeh that whole thing is part of the unreliable narrator shtick. The corruption spreads at fixed points in the game, not based on deaths.
    WHAT??? I didn’t know this. I’ve died a couple times and told myself once the rot or whatever got too far and I was about to die I would quickly quit my game so I didn’t have to start over. Hahah, this is a relief.
  • SpiralOut46and2SpiralOut46and21,177,769
    Posted on 17 December 18 at 16:15
    Ahh, I didn't know that Spec Ops: The Line was going to be the TA Playlist game for next April! :) Really looking forward to it then, as Hellblade is the only game like this that I've played so far.

    It's probably not as relevant to the heart of the game itself, but I liked the scenery, setting and character design in this game. redface I loved the scenes when she was walking outside especially, and I thought her outfit, hair and face paint etc fit the game really well. I wish I could have taken more screenshots while playing, but my XBL captures were always at 99% full at the time so I couldn't take that many and missed out on a lot of nice shots lol. facepalm laugh
  • Posted on 17 December 18 at 18:02
    SpiralOut46and2 said:
    Ahh, I didn't know that Spec Ops: The Line was going to be the TA Playlist game for next April! :) Really looking forward to it then, as Hellblade is the only game like this that I've played so far.

    It's probably not as relevant to the heart of the game itself, but I liked the scenery, setting and character design in this game. redface I loved the scenes when she was walking outside especially, and I thought her outfit, hair and face paint etc fit the game really well. I wish I could have taken more screenshots while playing, but my XBL captures were always at 99% full at the time so I couldn't take that many and missed out on a lot of nice shots lol. facepalm laugh
    Not sure where the Spec Ops in April idea came from but that’s not true. I don’t plan them more than a month or two out. It’s definitely high on the list of games I want to poll soon though. Maybe April, but it would be coincidence at this point, haha.
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