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News video games 05 April 2024, 01:46

author: Kamil Kleszyk

Senua's Saga: Hellblade 2 Garnering Good Revievs. „Beautiful Nightmare Next-gen Immersion,” Only 30 FPS on Xbox Series X

There is still some time left until the release of Senua's Saga: Hellblade II. However, from the latest reviews of Ninja Theory studio's latest work, it seems that we have something to look forward to.

Source: Xbox Game Studios

There are just over 40 days left until the release of Senua's Saga: Hellblade II. The game is among the most eagerly awaited Microsoft releases of 2024, which should come as no surprise given the significant success of the first installment in the series. The original game of Ninja Theory studio hit the market in 2017 and immediately won the hearts of players not only with its captivating visual setting, but above all with its moving story. So the bar is set really high - can Hellblade II jump over it? From the first reviews, it appears so.

Reporters from several major gaming websites visited the Ninja Theory studio and got acquainted with fragments of Senua's Saga: Hellblade II gameplay. Based on this, they drew the first conclusions.

"A beautiful nightmare with next-gen immersion"

According to IGN's Simon Cardy, Senua's Saga: Hellblade II "is a beautiful nightmare" that provides players with a truly next-gen experience. The game's mature approach to the plot can be likened to exclusive PlayStation hits, according to the journalist.

This sort of story-first ethos in a high production value package is one you'd more typically expect from a PlayStation Studios game -- not only in Hellblade's aesthetic and setting similarities with Sony Santa Monica's God of War, but also in the way it approaches its mature subjects of family trauma and mental health issues, we read in the opinion.

Cardy emphasizes that, overall, Hellblade II differs from God of War: Ragnarok because it places even greater emphasis on narrative than on action.

Polygon editor Oli Welsh also seems enchanted by Hellblade II. The journalist expressed his opinion that the game he played on Xbox Series X "looks stunning, whether it's rendering the black, smoking slopes of an Icelandic volcano or the pale, haunted eyes of Senua performer Melina Juergens."

When discussing Melina Jurgens, who plays Senua, the actress told GamesRadar+ that when creating her character in the sequel, she didn't want the protagonist to "come across like she has overcome all of her challenges, that she's now cured" because "people who experience psychosis might never recover from it." Nevertheless, Senua will have more control over her visions and the voices that accompany them.

The illness the heroine suffers from was already somewhat relatable thanks to Senua's Sacrifice, but in the sequel, this aspect has been enhanced with visual illusions. For instance, if players in the game focus the protagonist's gaze on rocks resembling faces, they will move apart, revealing hidden tunnels. According to GameSpot journalists, this element has been perfected to the point where it may seem like our mind is playing tricks on us.

Combat like from the first installment, but much more refined

Even though the fight itself isn't a priority, the developers from Ninja Theory didn't neglect this element. According to Cardy, fights with opponents have been improved compared to the "first installment." There's no revolution happening here (we're still fighting in arenas, focusing mainly on dodging, parrying, and waiting for the right moment to attack), but the overall approach feels more organic than in Senua's Sacrifice. Furthermore, players can expect a much wider variety of opponents.

Each swing of the sword comes with a heavier weight to it, emphasising the damage every plunge into a foe's flesh causes. Dodging and parrying remain key components, just as reading the rhythm of your opponent's attacks stays vital to your survival. These tells are something you'll need to keep an extra keen eye on this time around, too, as the parry window for Senua to meet steel with steel appears far less forgiving.

Interestingly, when working on the fights, Ninja Theory took inspiration from the Battle of the Bastards in Game of Thrones, where Jon Snow fights his enemies one by one.

The variety of swings, blocks, and parries executed within the minute-long scene were the key takeaways and resulted in Ninja Theory making every fight a one-on-one duel. Action can happen around Senua, but there's never more than one enemy attacking her at any time.

Realistic depiction of duels wouldn't have been possible without the studio's development. As proof of the changes that have occurred in Ninja Theory, Cardy gave the example of a motion capture session. The fight recordings for the first installment were captured in a small conference room over a period of only two days. In the case of the sequel, the devs already had a special place designated just for this purpose, and recording all the duel sequences took 70 hours.

The key goal was to make combat feel like part of the journey, explains Ninja Theory CEO Dom Matthews (via Xbox Wire).

Only 30 frames per second

Unfortunately, players anticipating smooth gameplay at 60 frames per second will have to accept a harsh reality. Mark Slater-Tunstill, the game's visual effects director, revealed to the GamePro service that Senua's Saga: Hellblade II will run at 30 fps on Xbox Series X/S consoles. According to the dev, the title is supposed to offer a "cinematic experience" (films are usually displayed at 24 frames per second). We will discover next month whether this will persuade players to go for the game.

Focusing on the visual aspect may have some merit, as many opinions suggest that the title establishes a new benchmark for games on Unreal Engine 5.

In conclusion, there are many signs that when developing Senua's Saga: Hellblade II, Ninja Theory studio opted for evolution rather than revolution compared to the first game. According to journalists, developers have succeeded in preserving all the positive aspects from the first installment, while addressing its previous shortcomings. The biggest problem, however, may be the 30 fps lock on Microsoft consoles.

Senua's Saga: Hellblade II is coming to PC and Xbox Series X/S. The game will be released on May 21st. The title will also be available in Game Pass.

Below you can see a few new screenshots from Senua's Saga: Hellblade II.

Senuas Saga: Hellblade 2 Garnering Good Revievs. „Beautiful Nightmare Next-gen Immersion,” Only 30 FPS on Xbox Series X - picture #1

Xbox Game Studios

Senuas Saga: Hellblade 2 Garnering Good Revievs. „Beautiful Nightmare Next-gen Immersion,” Only 30 FPS on Xbox Series X - picture #2

Xbox Game Studios

Senuas Saga: Hellblade 2 Garnering Good Revievs. „Beautiful Nightmare Next-gen Immersion,” Only 30 FPS on Xbox Series X - picture #3

Xbox Game Studios

Senuas Saga: Hellblade 2 Garnering Good Revievs. „Beautiful Nightmare Next-gen Immersion,” Only 30 FPS on Xbox Series X - picture #4

Xbox Game Studios

Kamil Kleszyk

Kamil Kleszyk

At deals with various jobs. So you can expect from him both news about the farming simulator and a text about the impact of Johnny Depp's trial on the future of Pirates of the Caribbean. Introvert by vocation. Since childhood, he felt a closer connection to humanities than to exact sciences. When after years of learning came a time of stagnation, he preferred to call it his "search for a life purpose." In the end, he decided to fight for a better future, which led him to the place where he is today.