“Devil May Cry” developer Ninja Theory has been working on a new intellectual property (IP) for Sony's PlayStation 4 called “Hellblade,” a hack-and-slash adventure game that is also for the PC. To prepare for the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) scheduled for next week in Los Angeles, Ninja Theory has released a new “Hellblade” gameplay trailer that showcases the game’s concept and its main character Senua.
Senua is a Celtic Warrior who is suffering from a mental illness that makes her see various hellish visions, to the point that the character legitimately thinks she’s in hell. The game suggests that the “hell” is part if her mental illness, with the game’s goal seemingly revolving around escaping “hell” and maybe even overcoming the mental problems.
Ninja Theory explains on the official "Hellblade" website that Senua will be witnessing various visions due to her constant battles with psychosis, anxiety and depression. The player will be a witness to all of these battles and will take them on with Senua’s blade and combat skills.
The gameplay is actually quite different from “Devil May Cry,” or any other hack-and-slash games that have come out in recent memory, as the game employs an over-the-shoulder camera angle instead of a traditional third-person point of view. This angle gives the game a unique feel.
While the developer acknowledges that mental illness is often considered a taboo subject, Ninja Theory is hoping that many will be able to see through Senua’s world without prejudice and that even some gamers will relate to her. This is a very risky move on the part of Ninja Theory, but considering how very few games address depression, “Hellblade” could be considered a positive step forward.
To add legitimacy to what Ninja Theory has said, Polygon has stated that the developer has worked with a professor of neuroscience and has talked to a lot of people who face some of these mental illness problems that Senua will be facing. While it’s doubtful that those same people saw flaming skull soldiers with giant swords, it is a nice touch and makes the game feel more legitimate.
No official release date has been given, though it has been confirmed for the PlayStation 4 and Windows PC. More information about the game will be released during E3.