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Ninja Theory’s Hellblade Attacks Mental Health

by on July 9, 2015
 

Ninja Theory, the independent company known for the recent DmC: Devil May Cry reboot and the PS3 hit, Heavenly Sword, is back with their own IP, Hellblade for the PS4 and Microsoft Windows. The game puts us in the shoes of a female protagonist, Senua, who dives deep into Hell. This isn’t a literal Hell, like in the God of War series, but a Hell based on Senua’s personal psychosis.

Originally, it was thought that Senua would fall into a literal Hell, but the release of the recent PS4 gameplay trailer shed light on Senua’s mental health issues. Based on Celtic myth, the game will follow the “Celtic Warrior Senua and her journey into Hell. The Hell in question is no ordinary Hell, but is in fact a Hell that is the manifestation of Senua’s mental illness. Senua experiences psychosis, including hallucinations and delusions, as well as suffering from anxiety and depression. As a player, you will witness Senua’s living nightmare through her own eyes.

Senua's image of the gate to Hell is very real for her.

Senua’s image of the gate to Hell is very real for her.

This is a great move for Ninja Theory, tackling mental health in a way that gamers will now be able to see first-hand. Hellblade will be able to give gamers this view on something that many people face every day. The gameplay trailer released by PlayStation shows the world that Senua is traveling in, and how the enemies appear. The enemies are part of her own personal Hell, and through it they attack her and slow her down through this personal journey of hers.

In Ninja Theory’s Development Diary 12, the developers talked about the mind of Senua. They delve into how they tackle these mental problems, introducing Professor Paul Fletcher, a psychiatrist and professor of neuroscience at the University of Cambridge, their consultant for the game. They really wanted to make the hallucinations and way that they portrayed these mental health issues in Hellblade feel real.

Professor Fletcher stated that it was amazing to see something that he studies scientifically to be portrayed so beautifully in a medium. Through help from Wellcome Trust, an organization dedicated to animal and human health research, Ninja Theory is able to receive consultation from Professor Fletcher, and to make sure that they portray psychosis and depression properly.

Many areas will further the plot, and the myth of the world surrounding Senua in Hellblade.

Many areas will further the plot, and the myth of the world surrounding Senua in Hellblade.

Senua is no helpless victim, but a strong warrior whose mind has been wrought with grief from the horrible things she has seen from the Viking invasion of the Celts. This psychosis brings on voices in her head, differing in sexes and ages, each offering different advice, giving a deeper look into the mind of a sufferer.

Hellblade is gearing up to be one the deepest stories, one that is personal for many people, and will be able to show those that can’t grasp the reality and torture that comes with depression and anxiety. Hellblade currently has a 2016 release date.

What do you think of Hellblade’s premise? Do you think it would be portrayed well, or just another gimmick to sell a game? Let us know what you think in the comments below!


By: Cody Dunmire

Edited by: Emily Deaton

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