Let's discuss Hellblade. Spoilers Galore!

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cikame

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#51  Edited By cikame

I hated it, i only have a small list of games i've played and don't like as i tend to know what i'm getting into, but this game finds its way onto that list by being tedious as hell.
The movement speed is extremely slow, and i know the game is supposed to be slower paced but when you have to wander around the environments doing the stupid boring rune puzzles constantly i was screaming at her to jog a little faster, the stories told via the 'audio logs' are poorly written, full of mythological lingo and entirely unrelated to anything the player is doing, i was skeptical of the mental illness stuff going in and it's a shame it's so one note, it can be summed up as simply as constant voices saying yes no yes no yes no yes no, and Senua mouth breathing, due to the game's budget there's a lack of interactivity with the environment and there is no character interaction, every time Senua turns to the camera to talk to... you? The Darkness? After the 3rd or 4th time it just feels like "talking to the camera" is the replacement for anything else, it becomes so repetitive to move forward into a new area with new sights expecting a rune puzzle to block your path locking you in until you complete it, like when you have to unlock that sword in the tree and the method to do so is literally "jog slowly towards these 4 portals, then jog slowly through each area, then jog slowly back to the tree, and the only way to get up to the tree is the long path around the back of it"... Jesus christ.

CLOSE YOUR GOD DAMN MOUTH!
CLOSE YOUR GOD DAMN MOUTH!


Conversely i like the fighting, i like a good parry or dodge and there's a nice little variety in the combos, obviously it's not a system full of depth but it feels good, however the ease of the combat becomes a problem when towards the end you are supposed to fail, but it wasn't hard enough for me to fail, so my Senua kept killing thousands of foes like an inhuman demonic tornado until i gave up... which isn't an inventive spin on failure, it's just me getting bored and not hitting buttons anymore, and in story terms my demonic infinite stamina Senua gave up because she was bored too.
Then the god of mannequin's takes pity on her and does, something, and then she turns into Senua................. Right.

3/10, making your short game longer via boring repetitive puzzles is boring, and repetitive. It looks nice and the short bouts of combat are fun, but the story is dull, full of mythological tangents and laced with Senua's constant nagging voices.

Now if you'll excuse me, i need to slow jog my way to the bathroom.

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sweetz

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#52  Edited By sweetz

I got this on the Steam sale and just finished it.

I thought it was interesting and pretty unique in terms of presentation, but I come to games for entertainment and I wasn't particularly entertained. The latter third of the game was far too oppressive and heavy for me. What's funny is that what I probably enjoyed most about the game is when I got the little pieces of Norse mythology (the game's equivalent of collectible audio logs) and recognized some of them from hearing the same myths told in God of War.

I wish I knew what the developer's intent was for me to take away from the game with regard to its exploration of psychosis. I mean how much is metaphor and how much is supposed to be representative of actual psychosis? If people with psychosis have delusions on the scale of what's presented in this game, that would kind of make me scared of them to be honest - contrary to the developer's goal which I presume would be to generate empathy instead.

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nutter

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Well, since we’re bumped, I really dug Hellblade.

The presentation is NUTS. I played it on Xbox One X on an LG OLED and I was floored. The audio design is bananas, too.

I also dug the combat. It was deceptively deep (compared to the shallow bit they teach you), with kicks, horizontal, and vertical attacks, plus strong and running versions of each, plus blocks, dodges, parries, and your time power.

More importantly, I really enjoyed the mood and story. More importantly still, I had a tremendous sense of empathy for the protaganist. I found the game touching and poignant, without being overbearingly melodramatic or over-the-top.

I think it’s definately a game folks should play. I hope once it makes sense, the game is added to PS+, Games with Gold, and Gamepass. I guess that’s Microsoft’s call nowadays?

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Moztacular

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@sweetz: There is a 15-20 minute video feature you can watch that's narrated by the game writer I believe. It might fill in the gaps. The game overall was definitely intense throughout, lots of screaming and suffering, so I agree that if you come to games for entertainment this is rough. Probably similar to if someone goes to movies to be entertained and walked into Schindler's List or something ya know? Personally I don't mind a heavy game like this every so often and this was definitely a good one if you can stick through the rather tedious gameplay ;p

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sweetz

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@moztacular: Yup, I had already watched that. It filled in gaps in the story which I appreciated, but I felt I shouldn't have had to watch a featurette to fill in. However, I'm still unsure what I'm supposed to take away from the game with regards to psychosis. That it's really damn scary? I mean ok, I probably didn't need to play a video game to know that, although I doubt I will ever meet someone who believes they are engaging in sword fights with literal demons. I think the game purporting itself to be a serious exploration of psychosis, but then also being this obviously heavily fantasy inspired thing that still needs to be a mechanically engaging video game to some extent is a bit at odds. It guess it's a bit too abstract for me. In terms of games being emotionally resonant, I much prefer interactions between characters - i.e. Last of Us, things along those lines.

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FrostyRyan

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@sweetz: The point of the game is to depict someone embracing and dealing with the inconvenient things about them.

It specifically uses psychosis as a means to make the game visually interesting, and also because psychosis is something that's simultaneously ugly and beautiful. The game and the included documentary talk about how psychosis simply makes an individual "see the world differently" and it isn't necessarily a bad thing.

So at its core it's not trying to "say something about psychosis," but the general struggles we all go through and can't outrun. It's pretty much saying "you can do it." Whatever it is, whatever demons you have in you, you can do it. It's a very simple message presented in an imaginative way. It's true art.

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sweetz

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@frostyryan: Ok, I can see that. I think the latter half of the game got too dark and stressful for me to come away from it seeing it as having a positive message. I really did not enjoy one shard challenge where you have to walk through the dark with the creepy mutant things and then part with the shadow beast and subsequent boss fight. Got unnerved, died a lot. I guess I've also played and watched other games or movies where the focus was dealing with and accepting the death of a loved one, but with characters or settings that were more relatable for me than Senua and Hellblade's fantastical settings, so maybe that's another reason its message didn't quite "land" for me.

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FrostyRyan

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@sweetz: That's fair. I argue the point is to be stressful and unsettling and put you in her shoes so that the final moment where she overcomes it and accepts her illness is powerful. Games like this and lots of stuff in the horror genre aren't necessarily trying to "entertain" you sometimes, but that is the point of a creative piece of content. Games are much more now than they were 20 years ago. Ever since we started using games as a story telling medium, we've done some very interesting stuff. I don't find Silent Hill 2 particularly "fun" but I adore it and think it's a masterpiece because of the emotions it put me through and how the experience made me feel what the main character felt.

The new horror movie "Hereditary" has a sequence in it that's literally the most horrifying thing I've seen in a film to the point where it gave me a legit anxiety attack. In a way, I hate that fucking movie, but I think it's a masterpiece and it's probably my favorite film of the year so far because of how well it conveyed its tone and how effective it was. If we want to take games seriously as an art form, we need to understand the point of them isn't always to have fun necessarily. They can evoke other emotions too, even ones we don't want to feel.

Perfectly OK to not like something because of these reasons though, don't get me wrong. Opinions and stuff.

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Superharman

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Once I get an Xbox One X and new TV towards the end of the year, I'm going to immediately replay this one. Loved playing through it last year despite some issues with the combat.

Can't wait to see what Ninja Theory do next with the backing of Microsoft.

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