Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice. The brave Little tailor

Despite the love for the work of the studio the Ninja Theory , we are not particularly interested in how Hellblade game. Much more intriguing it as an experiment: Can a team of a dozen people will be able to just pennies to create AAA-level project?

Almost the entire development process was accompanied by a diary. If you were watching him from the very beginning, after the release certainly feel proud of the guys.

Indie blockbuster

Previously, the company has managed to produce a few big games. No matter what they are: an adventure in the green postapokalipsise, fantasy  about a magical sword or slasher  about a teenage Nephilim – Projects of this studio have always been emotional scenes, wonderful music and action game with machetes. Only Ninja Theory’s sales could not boast. At some point before the studio got a difficult choice: to make games for mobile phones or even shut down.
In Hellblade was a place and yet another hallmark of Ninja Theory: strong girl with expressive eyes.
Long, however, for “Mobilkom” sit, they could not. And then the leadership of the idea was born: what if radically change the production processes and try to make as cool, but cheaper?
They tried: the team includes only twelve people, the first trailer made for a few hundred pounds, motion capture was recorded directly in the office, using purchased on eBay stuff like helmets for cricket (he helped with the capture of facial animation). And step by step lasted right up to the very release.
Before the release of the game surprised many the idea of ​​the ultimate death of the heroine, when after a certain number of restarts storyline ended abruptly for all, and all save erased. In fact, unfortunately (or fortunately), the work of the chips we could not check. Apparently, the die must be very, very often to the complete failure.
Lack of money and arms to Hellblade really almost non-existent. Local world looks delicious, and the face and facial expressions of the heroine as if real. Sounds play too many better: here and great music from the band leader Combichrist Andy La Plagua and vaunted binaural sound (when it is clear where his source).
 Even the marketing campaign would envy, perhaps, some of the major publishers: the attempts to make indie AAA followed by many. Without any advertising, just because it’s interesting.
Only here the “dream project” still not happened. And that’s funny, most of the problems lies in the least dependent on the budget: the game summed up the game design.

What is madness

However, due to the ability to tell the history of Ninja Theory and escalate the atmosphere at first almost imperceptibly. The plot is based on Norse mythology.
A girl named Sung entire life suffered from the “curse,” or, more simply, psychosis. From crazy heroine turned even relatives – everything except her lover. So when he was killed, the hay went straight into the world of the dead, Helheim, meet the monsters and their own fears. And all in order to bring back the soul of a single person close to her.
The scenario is not the easiest to understand. Somewhere events served hints and snatches, somewhere has to finish building a picture of yourself. This is not a disadvantage, but not everyone will like.
At first, however, imbued with history can not be due to its controversial feed. Voiceover first avoids specifics and just philosophize – and it does not want to listen to. A cut-scene – perhaps the only thing that really has suffered from a lack of money. Most of the events unfolding in the rollers on a dark background. Show a Seine – most of the other characters appear only as silhouettes, voices or “live” video, which is the background of computer graphics looks wildly.
The role of the Seine performed Melina Jurgens – video editor studio. Although no acting experience she had not had great Melina got used to the image.
But everything changes as soon as the developers give first information about the girl’s life. Gradually manage to assemble a picture: to understand why the character was precisely this, why is ready to sacrifice for the sake of the salvation of the soul of the beloved. Even begin to notice the parallels between the storyline and the myths that are also voiced.
Looms the whole life story of one unhappy man. History is not stupid, and with a serious promise: how hard to live with mental illness among real monsters – ordinary people. Although this is not the story that I want to remember for years after taste is still pleasant.
The history of the Seine, by the way, not only in Hellblade. There was no place for a variety of a variety of Scandinavian legends. Not all of them are interesting to listen to, but some exciting and even pushed to explore the topic further. I want to know after all, what is done with the story about Sigmund and what happened to the unfortunate Balder.
But the main thing is not even that. Hellblade not so much about the story, about how the heroine’s emotions: the game literally plunges into the world of the Seine, makes it possible to feel her emotions, her ears hear everything and see everything as it sees. And the strongest here – the atmosphere is complete, true madness. World Hellblade itself is good: picturesque forests and mountains, ancient buildings, half-dead enemies … But when it interferes with the heroine fears, what is happening on the screen is all the more compelling.
Time to play scary. In the best sense of the word.
First, hear the voice of the Seine. Many voices, and constantly. They go from different angles (thanks to surround sound!), Almost unabated, comment on the story, suggest something, laugh, argue, criticize, confuse – in general, creating an atmosphere as if a mad is not the Seine, and you yourself.
Secondly, there is always happening something crazy: screams, illusion, me in front of the location. There were even a place for the dead sea with the real mountains of bodies, whose hands are continually drawn to the player. It looks fascinating.

In the best tradition …

Except that when it comes to gameplay, get out a variety of problems. Conventionally, the game can be divided into two parts: a study of the world with puzzles and battles. At first glance, everything is fine with them.
Action in the game is good, but it is much less than many thought.
Battles are built on the classical scheme. There are heavy and light attacks, melee strikes, dodge, block, parry, the slowing of time – and all this must be combined, finding effective bundles. The enemies are different, too: the usual swords, and “heavy” with axes, shields and Vikings, and nimble comrades of throwing hatchets, and even bosses with a unique set of attacks and vulnerabilities. Often they attack a few pieces from different sides, forced to maneuver and keep track of all the battlefield. With each blow or block tactile feel, almost the entire body: here the intuitive control. It would seem that everything is fine.
No tips, combo lists and instructional videos is not here – all the nuances necessary to find out and develop itself.
The same impression on other fronts: research and puzzles. They are far more than battles. Different tasks: to find the hidden characters on the level, look at objects at a certain angle, to lay down a picture of them. There are even stages where you have to open the door in a world to unlock the passage to the other, and so on.
Tips in the interface there, so all the information must be obtained either from the voices in my head heroine or with visual detail.
However, all get out some small, but all the same drawbacks. During battles in tight spaces a fixed camera buries in the wall due to the movements of enemies. A puzzle annoying due to the weak level design. Yes, all levels here look rich, but for the sake of beauty suffers functionality. Some places resemble jumble of objects, where it is difficult to find the right path. Sometimes it is not clear where to go, and where the road will block an invisible wall. Or passage and did hide somewhere in the dark corner.
In this case, the gameplay is not enough spice and depth. Battles interesting, but they do not have a second floor room for experimentation or as soon as you know what to do, and learns the patterns of behavior of enemies, all fights are the same type (though still bored do not have time). And the puzzles are not surprising: there opened the door, came back, there opened the door, ran in circles, until he found the correct character, and so on.
Although gameplay stages differ little uniformity compensated staging. For example, sometimes you have to look for symbols sent on the marsh or in dark caves, and during the battle include beautiful music or rob heroine vision.
In addition, the game does not always support the right pace. At some point, you may crush a bunch of enemies and a lot of fights in a row, and to apply for a full hour to wander among the puzzles. Somewhere in the same type of problems were to be repeated, and then you leave and completely miss: Know yourself run forward, listening to the voice. Because of this, the game places like many simulators walk.
That the game is really going on, and that – only in the head crazy Seine have to understand yourself.
Fortunately, the overall impression saving freaks psyche Seine. Mechanics can be repeated, but when you are asked to find the characters, fleeing through the maze of the fiery monster comes out is more interesting. The next moment, developers can immerse the player into the dark, forcing guided only by the sound. Or “settle” in the dark beast, fearful of light, and have to run from one of the illuminated area to another and take care of the torch. And even then most of the dead sea with battles produces something else impressed between the mountains of corpses. By the end of the story it seems that everything has already passed: fire, water and a lot of schizophrenic tests.
And this is good.
Despite all the beauty, Hellblade still closer to the indie than a blockbuster.