Senua's Saga: Hellblade 2 review

Senua's Saga: Hellblade 2 is out now on Xbox Game Pass. Check out what we had to say about Ninja Theory's stunning sequel in our Hellblade 2 review.

Senua's Saga: Hellblade 2 review
Sean Carey

Sean Carey


With Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice, Ninja Theory created one of the finest and most unique gaming experiences around. However, in doing so, the studio also set itself a high bar to clear when it came to a sequel — just how do you expand on one of the best games of the previous generation? Well, as it turns out, Ninja Theory has largely stuck to the same award-winning formula it found with the first Hellblade to create yet another amazing game that had me fully immersed in its grim and beautiful world until the very end.

Senua's Saga: Hellblade 2 has us step into the shoes of the tortured warrior Senua once more, and instead of another harrowing journey through Hell, this time, we're whisked off for an equally harrowing jaunt around rugged Iceland. Having made peace with the loss of her lover and developing a deeper understanding of her psychosis, a more self-assured Senua ventures to Iceland to put down the Viking slavers who are causing misery in her homeland. Much like the first game, the story is steeped in metaphor, mythology, and historical non-fiction, and Ninja Theory has masterfully brought all of this together to produce an agonizing tale that quickly had me invested.

From the moment you step onto Iceland's rocky shores, it's clear that Ninja Theory has put a ton of work into Hellblade 2's visuals. Built using Unreal Engine 5, Hellblade 2 is a visual masterpiece and easily one of the best-looking games of this generation. From the storm-battered beaches where you're constantly being assaulted by strong winds and heavy rain to the ravaged settlements that are barely clinging to life, there is an extraordinary amount of detail in each location that makes Hellblade 2's world feel authentic. The character models are another highlight, too, with Ninja Theory painstakingly capturing the likeness of actors and props to create high levels of realism — looking at photos of the cast compared to their digital doubles, it's genuinely hard to tell the difference! What I really love about the visuals, though, is the lighting, specifically in one chapter that involves a ritual. Torches and the occasional bursts of flame that would puncture through a thick haze of smoke looked incredible and, coupled with Hellblade 2's amazing sound, had me fully immersed in the moment.

Senua's Saga: Hellblade II

If you've played Senua's Sacrifice, you'll know just how good its binaural audio design is, with the voices inside of Senua's head bouncing around your own brain. As Senua has not been cured of her condition, the voices of the Furies are still present in Hellblade 2. While the voices have calmed slightly with Senua's understanding of her psychosis, they do still poke and prod, casting doubt on her decisions, which leads you to question your actions. Outside of the voices of the Furies, the sound has been stepped up a considerable notch. In one scene, I carefully led Senua through a silent, near-pitch-black cave only to hear the heavy thuds of footsteps go rushing past behind me — all of the hairs on the back of my neck instantly stood up, and a shiver ran down my spine. With its excellent use of sound (make sure you wear headphones while playing) and its superb photorealistic visuals, Ninja Theory manages to create an atmosphere so thick at times that it feels palpable.

Senua's Saga: Hellblade II combat

One issue I had with the original game was with the combat, which was pretty basic and often felt clunky. With Hellblade 2, the combat has been vastly improved, though not through the use of new mechanics — you still have the same light and heavy attacks, a parry option, and the ability to dodge. In fact, you actually have fewer combat choices open to you as Ninja Theory has done away with Senua's sprint attack and her melee kick in the first Hellblade. While that initially doesn't sound great, vast amounts of work has gone into animations and fight choreography, and this has made all the difference. Combat is much more fluid, thanks to the motion capture used to create animations, and you can feel a real weight behind each swing of Senua's sword. Another improvement to the combat is enemy variety — there are several different enemy types you'll encounter during your playthrough, which helps keep things fresh. This enemy variety is definitely welcome, as some of the combat encounters can almost feel like a boss rush mode. Enemies will relentlessly attack you, one after the other, which I found exhilarating, challenging, and, at some points, exhausting, but in a good way. It felt like I'd been through a war and come out the other side.

Where Hellblade 2 stumbles in the gameplay department is with its puzzles. The puzzles where you have to match parts of the environment to a symbol have returned, and while they were fine in the first game, I found them quite tedious and slow this time around. There is another puzzle type that involves changing the time of day to shift parts of the world around Senua, but when those cropped up, they were all basic and didn't require much thought. The puzzles definitely felt like a bit of an afterthought, and if anything, are detrimental to the game's pacing.

Senua's Saga: Hellblade II review

Outside of the combat and puzzles, the only other real gameplay element is collectibles. The lorestones and hidden faces from Hellblade are back in Senua's Saga, though there is an achievement for each here. Finding all of these collectibles will require a bit of exploration and some sharp eyes, but thankfully, Ninja Theory has included a chapter select, so if you do miss one or two, you can easily go back and grab them. Interestingly, collecting all the lorestones gives you the option to pick another narrator with different dialog to guide you through the game, which adds a nice smidge of replayability.

As for the rest of the Senua's Saga: Hellblade 2 achievements, all but two are story-related, so you can expect an easy 1,000G here. I managed to unlock all achievements in the sequel in around seven hours.


Ninja Theory has created an outstanding sequel with Senua's Saga: Hellblade 2. An unforgettable narrative adventure that is brought to life through impeccable sound design, gorgeous visuals, and a story that will stick with you long after the final credits roll. Hellblade 2 is one of the best Xbox games out there and is absolutely worth your time if you enjoyed the original.
9 / 10
* Sean spent around 12 hours exploring the brutal landscapes of Iceland in Hellblade 2 while playing on an Xbox Series X. The publisher provided a game code for this review.
Written by Sean Carey
Avid Xbox and achievement fan, Sean has committed to playing the best RPGs, racing games, and first-person shooters Xbox Game Pass and his precious free time will allow. Prior to joining TrueAchievements, Sean gained a degree in journalism from Solent University.
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