Going into last month, I'm not sure anyone in the gaming world quite expected Hellblade to land with as much splash as it did. For all the pedigree that action-game developer Ninja Theory bring with them, there are plenty of ways that this project could have gone wrong or off the rails entirely.
Instead, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice holds up a triumph of storytelling, gameplay and presentation. It’s a harrowing journey into the soul of its hero - along with the demons that haunt it - and as much a game worth playing as it is an experience worth seeing.
Taking place in an unspecified-but-surely-distant past, Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice sees players take on the role of a Pictish warrior on a vision quest into the Nordic purgatory of Helheim in an effort to save her lost lover's soul.
Over the course of her journey, Senua is both hunted by the viking warriors of Helheim and haunted by visions and voices, a symptom of her own psychosis.
While it's easy to see the DNA of Ninja Theory’s past titles DMC, Heavenly Blade and Enslaved present in the rhythmic combat system that ties Hellblade together. However, the tone of the game feels very much its own. In fact, it feels far closer to the horror genre than Ninja Theory have ever gone before - and all the more compelling because of it.