Home Reviews 5/5 Review Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II Review

Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II Review

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Every gamer is different in their tastes and wants, and that’s a wonderful thing. Some just like multiplayer games, working their way through a variety of season passes and loot. Some like the random nature of a roguelike or roguelite, happy to die over and over. For me, it’s all about the story and single-player experiences, especially those which take me on an epic journey, pushed along by amazing visuals and cinematic sound. 

With that in mind, and the fact that Xbox has had a couple of rough months with some stating that it is the end of them and all that they have created, I’m here to say otherwise. After playing Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II, it feels safe to say that this is just the beginning. If they can invest and champion games like this one, then I am all in. 

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Go deep with Hellblade II

If you liked the first game in the series – Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice – then you’re going to love the next instalment even more. In fact, taking Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II into account, it feels like the first game was an initial draft of what could be done in terms of story, combat, and exploration. The sequel takes all these elements from the first game and then improves on it all. It has about the same running time of eight hours or so, but that works for me as about the right length for this near perfect experience. 

In Senua’s Sacrifice we found Senua making her way through hell, to trade for the soul of the departed love of her life. Senua suffers from a psychosis where she hears different voices, with them guiding, warning and confusing her on her travels. In Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II, we find her on a slaver ship at the start of the game, travelling to 9th-century Midgard or Iceland where the game was filmed. After a shipwreck, she finds herself battling through the world, helping locals in a fight against giants that have come through and are ripping the communities apart. 

The story, inspired by Viking lore and myth, is a remarkable tour de force. Extremely cinematic in its visual storytelling and written word, at times it is poetic, whilst at others it all feels deeply sad, as the game powers through at breakneck speed taking us across different locations underground and overground. The use of Senua’s voices in her head is still as affecting as it was in the first game, but this time she is not alone, joined at times by three other companions that add to her story and give Senua a different dimension to the first game. There are huge action set pieces that are jaw-dropping and some beautiful intimate moments. It’s a masterful piece of storytelling. 

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Flippin’ eck – just look at the beauty

Gameplay is an extension of what was offered the first time around. Exploration consists of walking, running, and a small bit of climbing at times, crawling and some ledge clambering. There are moments in which action set pieces require you to do some timed work, utilising reflexes as you need to stay on top of your game. And the puzzles are intriguing, more varied than before. Trying to find hidden symbols in the environment to unlock gateways is back too, this time feeling a little bit more forgiving than before. But there are a host of new puzzles to take in as well, including one when the world is turned upside down and you have to navigate back and forth to solve the route through. Nothing is particularly hard and the solutions feel very organic in their nature, but it all fits with what is playing out in Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II. 

Combat has been improved. It now feels heavier and much more gritty, while also capturing that chaos of sword battles in close quarters. Enemies appear from different sides where you have to time your light attacks, heavy attacks, counters and dodges perfectly. And those opponents are varied, from grunts to fire breathers and heavy armoured warriors. I liked the combat and felt it was entertaining and fun to play, even though it did at times feel slightly repetitive. 

And then we get on to how Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II looks and, frankly, what can I say about the visuals? What Ninja Theory have done with the power of Unreal Engine 5 is outstanding, and ensures that we should be super excited for how things play out with the future of gaming. The landscapes are unbelievable and absolutely stunning, whilst the lighting from the environment, even when underground, is nothing short of fantastic. The facial tech is as brilliant as before, and it’s a delight to see every little movement in the facial expressions. This is the best-looking game on Xbox, running smoothly throughout. 

Accompanying those visuals and Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II uses Binaural Audio recordings for the voices in Senua’s head; it is both unique and stunning. It means that you’ll want to play the game with headphones on, just in order to get the full effect of this audio tech. And further, the score is sublime and haunting with performances, from the smallest ghost crying out a few lines to the lead actors, being wonderful. Melina Juergens who plays Senua is superb, full of moments that shine even though she is now sharing the spotlight with other actors. 

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You’ll likely love Hellblade II

I think you can guess from what I have written that I am in awe of Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II. I loved Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice and I adore single-player story games, so it was always going to be pretty nailed on that I’d like this one. But even if you didn’t particularly get on with things first time around, I implore you to at least try ​​Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II – it is nothing short of stunning and more than capable of taking your breath away by some of the set pieces. 

It’s for games like this in which I bought an Xbox Series X; the reason I love playing games. This is Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II.

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Anthony
Anthony
1 day ago

Hey Gareth could you post your review to opencritic.com ?

Neil Watton
Admin
Reply to  Anthony
9 hours ago

Hi – this is now on OC 🙂

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