Hellblade is certainly an interesting one. Ninja Theory have said that it’s ‘independent triple A’, that it will be a PS4 exclusive (at first) and that they’re also pushing the limit of what the studio’s animators are used to. So there are a lot of buzzwords there, probably enough to turn this into a glossary more than a bonafide piece of games media but Hellblade’s ambition could be one of the best things about it. Its lead, Senua, will take on nightmarish enemies that would give Dark Souls a run for its impossible-to-beat money, the world is full of Celtic and Viking mythology and everything is doused in mystery and intrigue like a sea sponge that’s never been wrung out. We do have the tiniest bit of new info about the game though, as revealed by Ninja Theory in a Twitter Q&A.
Hellblade: Story, Combat and What We Can Expect
First of all, it’s important to remind ourselves what Hellblade is. Independent triple A sounds like a term that means ‘hey, we’re lone wolfing it but in a really fancy sounding way’ but Ninja Theory explain it as them not being stymied or held back by a publisher and it lets them embrace the creative without having to worry too much about the publisher’s sales forecasts and what features the publisher thinks will sell.
Given that they’re going it alone, it also makes sense not to push the boat out too far and so Hellblade won’t have an open-world or multiplayer. Disappointing for some but given that they’re doing this off their own backs just for their fans and will have a team of under 15 people during the entire development process we shouldn’t expect them to add in features knowing that the game as a whole would suffer.
That said, it’s a small compromise given that the story is “incredibly important” to the game and that Hellblade’s combat is “brutal and uncompromising” and will probably see us taking on a handful of boss battles. It won’t quite be like Dark Souls though, as RPG elements don’t feature at all but it still sounds like a bit of a rage inducer anyway. Furthermore, Ninja Theory say that although they’re “not ruling out retail”, “digital makes sense” so we’d better clear our hard-drives out for when the game launches (likely) sometime next year.
This is all from their Twitter-held Q&A so you can go through to the Twitter search of the hashtag to see the rest of Ninja Theory’s answers.
Meet Senua, Hellblade’s Badass Lady Lead
But Ninja Theory’s info dump hasn’t stopped there, oh no. Keeping good on their promises better than, well, just about every other developer really, they’ve given us another look at the behind the scenes action of the studio just like they said they would, this time explaining how they came up with the idea of Hellblade’s female protagonist.
As it happens, they stumbled across the story of the real-life Senua, who was worshipped as a goddess and Hellblade’s dev team vowed not to make her ‘sexy, skimpy or skinny’ not to avoid controversy but just because that’s what the source material said that they should do. A female warrior haven’t an appropriate body type and appropriate clothing for her role? A character designed like the battle-hardened, fearless fighter that they are, regardless of gender? Amazing.
Sly industry digs aside, it’s genuinely refreshing to hear Ninja Theory talk about Senua like this. They know that their game having a playable female protagonist is a big deal but they’ve considered the usual traps that other devs fall into and they’ve fixed them before they stumbled upon them too. I appreciate this and I marvel at how lovely Senua’s scars look. Here’s hoping we get to see this one in action sooner rather than alter.
Hellblade will be released for PS4 sometime in 2015.