Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice
- A game I enjoyed but don't want to see repeated.
For me this game was a mixed bag. I had a hard time figuring out how to judge it. It's a $30 game that attempts to mimic the quality of a $60 game, and from what I can tell the development team isn't very big. So I'm not sure how to judge it, and whether or not I should be forgiving with certain things.
-Story, world building, and Senua herself
First off I will,p say that the game was much longer than I expected. It's not a very short game, so length wise I was very satisfied considering the price. Up until the ending I liked Senua, her condition, her story(past and present), and the world it is set in. It's definitely something on the unique side. The voices she hears help to make her character unique, but also add to gameplay. Her story and driving purpose were cool. And I liked the mythical world everything takes place in. It's the perfect mixture of fantasy and grounded elements for me. I mention not liking the ending because it wasn't satisfying for me. I don't feel as if I was given enough answers to things, and I don't understand the ending itself. I also don't think it was satisfying from a gameplay perspective.
-Gameplay: Combat, puzzles, and environment traversal.
For me the gameplay was half great, and half boring. It's all very formulaic. Walk for a while, solve some puzzles, and fight a wave of people. That's what you do in video games sure, but this game made it all feel routine.
I really enjoyed the combat, though it has its issues. The enemies are all pretty similar and there are few options for fighting. It's all very repetitive. However it's the type of sword combat that I've been wanting in a game for a long time. Its not over the top hack and slash and it feels personal. There actually is a surprising amount of combinations that can be made with the three actions you have. Fast attack, slow attack, and melee. The run button can also be used with those too, and I had fun experimenting. It's repetitive but I made it enjoyable for myself.
Puzzle solving is something that I have never really enjoyed outside of the Portal games. And this game didn't win me over. A lot of the puzzles in the game are clever and have cool mechanics, but are not fun to actually solve. It's just not stimulating gameplay.
The rest of your time is spent traversing the environment, something that's also not very interesting. It's a a lot of walking and the occasional ladder, or small climb/short drop. Plus Senua is slow and that doesn't help.
-Environments, graphics, and visuals.
I understand graphics aren't everything, but a game like this needs to do a good job of looking good in order to sell me on its narrative. Plus I need to enjoy what I'm looking at. Senua herself is very well done. She feels real to me. The rest of the game not so much.
I found the actual design of the environments to be very bland and boring. A lot of rocks, grass and dirt, and simple structures. No pleasing art style, a lack of detail, and uninteresting locations. A lot of textures were also bad in my opinion. Most of the time I didn't find the game to be visually stimulating. I was also aware of a development trick they used when making the game. Senua is the only person given an in game model. Everyone else is actually real footage doctored a little bit. That made me start to notice a lot of other short cuts and things that were clearly done in order to save on money and time. For me that's not clever, but a lack of effort and ultimately a less quality game. The puzzles to me are also a sign of this.
As I said, I enjoyed my time with this game. I might have a lot of negative things to say about it, but I wasn't left feeling disappointed or completely upset with the game. The positives equally counter the negatives, leaving an okay game overall. I have plenty of personal gripes with it, and overall it's not that great. It's narrative and main character are well done, and I enjoyed the combat. The rest of its gameplay is okay, but not really fun. It's visuals are sometimes unappealing, and it stinks of a lack of budget and team size considering the fact that they are trying to mimic the quality of a $60 game. If this is what other games in this $30/AA title realm are going to be like, then I'd rather this be the last. It was an okay attempt.