Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II was announced at The Game Awards 2019 along with a surprise trailer for the new Xbox “Series X” console. Following the success of the first Hellblade from developer Ninja Theory, the sequel to Hellblade will continue Senua’s journey, and expand upon the mature concepts of grief and mental illness as featured in the original game.
While the original game was no slouch on a technical scale, fans can expect even more graphical polish from Hellblade II, as Microsoft acquired Ninja Theory back in 2018 and will likely be contributing to the sequel’s development. Judging from the way the game was announced, Hellblade II may turn out to be exclusive to the next generation of Xbox consoles, though it’s entirely possible it’ll also release on other Microsoft platforms like the Xbox One and Windows PC as well.
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Something else to note is that the team developing Hellblade II at Ninja Theory is slightly different than the one that created the original Hellblade. Whether this will result in tonal differences remains to be seen, though we highly doubt it given how well the trailer is able to embody the dark, intense spirit of the original.
Part of this is thanks to actress Melina Juergens who reprises her role as the game’s main protagonist, Senua. In the announcement trailer at The Game Awards, Melina brings Senua to life through some truly otherworldly, yet hauntingly life-like motion capture.
Seriously, take a look at this first trailer and tell us that’s not going to be yet another award-winning performance from Melina, who took home several “Best Performance” awards for the original Hellblade. We’ve watched the trailer a dozen times so far, and are still blown away by the sheer range and intensity of Melina’s mo-capped facial expressions.
In the background, an ominous soundtrack can be heard and witnessed as Senua chants along in unison. As for what this track is, it’s a song called “Maidjan” by the band Heilung. If you’re a fan of Heilung, you’ll undoubtedly be happy to hear they’re collaborating with Ninja Theory on the original soundtrack of Hellblade II.
For those who weren’t able to play the original Hellblade, the story itself follows Senua, as she works to save the soul of her lost lover Dillion. During her quest, you learn more about Senua herself, primarily through auditory and visual hallucinations.
Ninja Theory worked closely with organizations like Wellcome Trust and seasoned neuroscientists, to ensure their depiction of psychosis was both accurate and respectful. These adult themes of grief, loss, trauma, abuse, and the experience of psychosis will likely be present in Hellblade II as well.
After all, the sequel is part of Senua’s story as its name “Senua’s Saga” implies.
Furthermore, the team announced a new project back in October called The Insight Project. Through The Insight Project, Ninja Theory plans to study how game design, neuroscience, and tech can all be used to understand and help individuals with mental illness.
In the description for The Insight Project’s announcement trailer, it’s described as follows:
“The Insight Project is an ambitious combination of technology, game design, and clinical neuroscience brought together with the aim of treating mental suffering and encouraging mental wellbeing. Developed by Ninja Theory in collaboration with Professor Paul Fletcher of the University of Cambridge.”
It’s hard to say whether Hellblade II will build upon the presentation of mental illness as seen in the original, or will focus more on worldbuilding, but either we’re looking forward to finding out as Hellblade is – without a doubt – one of the best “indie” games released this decade.
As of right now, no release date for Hellblade II has been announced. It’s possible it could be among the launch titles for the Xbox Series X, sometime around Holiday 2020. However, until this is explicitly confirmed or denied, all we have to go on is the trailer shown at The Game Awards and information provided by Ninja Theory regarding its development.
Now that you know everything there is to know about Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II, what are your thoughts? Are you planning to purchase a copy of the game once pre-orders become available, or are you holding off until more is known about the game?
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