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    Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II Review

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    Looking for a comprehensive Hellblade II Review? We’ve got you covered! Experience what lengths an outsider will go to to save people who need saving. Here is our Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II Review.

    Developed by Ninja Theory and Published by Xbox Game Studios this sequel to the 2017 narrative story is something to remember. While the game does deliver a fantastic sequel and such a memorable story and events, it doesn’t quite have the lasting impression that the first game presented and here’s why.

    STORY

    Starting up the game, you are reintroduced to Senua’s story with a recap narrated by Druth, who you meet in Hellblade and acts as a guide in that game. Once this is done, the game opens up with an ocean in a storm where three ships are making their way before being sunk, and Senua is cast to the cold, icy depths of the raging waters. Battling to survive, she claws her way to the surface, and continues to try to stay above the waves before being washed to a shore. This is where gameplay takes over, and although it feels like a bad horror game, not wanting to point fingers but The Evil Within, due to the amount of screen space you have, it sort of grows on you. Alright, I am not saying The Evil Within is a bad horror game, it’s actually an interesting story, however, what I do have an objection to is the Wide-screen look. What I mean is I don’t want to lose the top and bottom of my screen when playing a game, it just feels wrong somehow, and yes I played and completed The Evil Within all before knowing I could turn off the borders, but with Senua’s Saga you have to play with them by the looks of it.

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    Slowly making your way up the cliff and around, you are taught the basics of what the game is about and how to reach the end, the difference with Senua’s Saga is it seems there is no real visible goal like there was in Senua’s Sacrifice, you know the mountain in the distance to represent Helhiem? Senua’s Saga doesn’t have that, at least in the first few chapters of the game.

    Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II Review - Draugar

    At first, after you fight the Draugar, you learn that the nights are growing longer, potentially hinting that the end days are approaching and the line, an endless night, seems to solidify this. However, as you progress, it’s made a little more clear that it is only a selfish act of wanting to just help people. While this isn’t selfish in the same way, Senua’s duty to her promise makes her bound to it and wants to save everyone. This is illustrated by sparing the slave master early on, and even befriending him. This is only added to by slaying the giants and finding her own way of resolving situations in a peaceful way, showing the world that there is another way.

    As the story goes on it gets more mythological with giants and the idea that words, or more specifically names hold a lot of power. Personally, once I got to Chapter 5 it started to feel like I was in Attack On Titan rather than Hellblade as yet again another giant needed to be dealt with. This, strangely, only amplified the experience of the game, making it somewhat more believable to sink into the Hellblade universe. That being said, on the other side, it made it a little irritating as you are just repeating the actions you have just done, with a twist.

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    Mechanics, Graphics, & Technical things

    Senua’s Saga plays, looks, and feels just like its predecessor, Senua’s Sacrifice, however, there have been rather big enhancements in Senua’s Saga compared to Sanua’s Sacrifice. The first of these that should be noted is that it is, at the time of writing, an Xbox Exclusive title, meaning that no matter how much a PlayStation gamer wants to experience it they will have to head over to the Game Pass and try it out. The second is the game engine used in development. Unlike its predecessor, Sanua’s Saga utilises the power of Unreal Engine 5 to bring new life to the game which Ninja Theory has developed. Sanua’s Sacrifice was powered by Unreal Engine 4, which, while powerful, has its limitations like anything. The switch in engines also makes the game pop more graphically and flow that much better with the newer tools that were added, if you don’t think this is the case just take a look at the graphics comparison below.

    Going back to the mechanics, the game plays just the same as the original, meaning you could just pick up Senua’s Saga from playing Senua’s Sacrifice, which is what I did on Xbox. There are a few minor control differences however they are minimal and even something that you can overlook. That being said the combat mechanics have been drastically altered and feel more real, like enemies now don’t stand there letting themselves be open to attack, and will actively guard against you, as well as switch up attacks to keep you on your toes. Another big thing is the strategy I’d like to call Insta-kill, this was a way of playing the first game where you parry an attack perfectly and then counter with a big hit, more than likely nearly finishing an enemy. In Senua’s Saga, however, this isn’t the case and the perfect hit window is small which means the work that needs to be done to get the timing correct is a lot more than it’s worth.

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    Added to this, it doesn’t have the same effect that the first game’s Perfect Parry, “Staggering” mechanic had, meaning you are in for some pretty interesting fights, to say the least. Additionally, you are no longer fighting spectral entities all the time, at the beginning you fight real, flesh and blood humans who you kill and see their bodies slump to the ground. Unlike the first game, where you fought almost exclusively ghosts, which vanished when slain.

    Although we covered the Graphics above and in the Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice Review, we want to take a minute to bring us back to how lively the game looks. Personally, it feels like the change felt in A Plague Tale, from Innocence to Requiem, both are fantastic games alone and when played sequentially, they make the experience even better. This goes double for graphics, the graphics in Innocence were good, but Requiem enhanced them and made the characters and world feel alive with so much potential. If I have to put it into words, it’s like there are more stories to be told thanks to the depth of the world. Senua’s Saga embodies this perfectly and makes you feel that there is a lot more to the world than you get to see.

    One thing that I really took a liking to was the physics hair system. This is when Senua moves her head, and her hair will react with her shoulders and even drape over her shoulders. Although it’s a subtle little thing that the developers have incorporated into the game, it does show that the character moves and reacts more realistically than in Senua’s Sacrifice, which is only amplified by the more human look of characters, depth of the world and even animations.

    In addition to all this, there were the technical things that gamers really don’t get to see, like all the different maps and techniques that make the games come to life. I played around in Photomode for about 3 hours, or more, in different environments on my Xbox Series S to find the best ways to show things off and there really is no way to best illustrate almost 90% of what the developers put into this game. Things like SSS (Sub-Surface Scattering), physical Light Reflectivity (that is a given since unreal uses Physics Based Rendering), and even things as simple as the map breakdown on things like eyes and hair. This might be an awful lot to take in but with Hellblad 2 I was expecting rather large things as it’s the first game I have plunged into that uses Unreal Engine 5, and it didn’t disappoint!

    Going technical now, things like SSS (Sub-Surface Scattering) and textural breakdowns this is all things that can be understood online with simple searches, but pulling them off in practice and getting results that are continually believable takes a lot of Skill and experience. I have made a point of highlighting the use of Unreal Engine 5 so heavily as Epic built in a Character Creation Toolkit into their incredible game engine, this is called MetaHuman. The results of the MetaHuman system are hyperrealistic to characters provided the animations are believable. What, at least I feel, Hellblade 2 surpasses what Epic provides with MetaHuman, if they provide Hyperrealistic characters then Hellblade, no Ninja Theory, has provided true-to-life humans.

    CONCLUSION

    In conclusion, despite graphical glitches, falling through the world in climb or squeeze points, and a strange story, I really enjoyed it. It is a worthy sequel to the 2017 Hellblade by Ninja Theory and although shorter chapterwise, it felt more fleshed out and longer.

    I have to voice the fact that I am disappointed by it only being on Xbox, however, the experience wasn’t entirely bad, apart from trying to control navigation by using the D-Pad rather than the Joystick. Although this was a bad thing for a PlayStation gamer like myself, it is not something that detracted from my experience of the game.

    Overall the game was the best sequel that I have experienced in the past 3 or so months. Graphically it grabbed me from the second I started up and as for the mechanics, I really enjoyed them in the first game. The part that I felt somewhat let down by was the story, past the 3rd chapter it felt the same, find the name of the giant and slay it. This is done 3 times for 3 total giants, although there are differences and made to look Fantasy-like in objectives it is just repeating the same thing. While I have stated that this isn’t a bad thing really it is enough for a lot of gamers to make the experience bad. The one thing that I disliked at the start but came to like was the Wide-screen look of the game. This one thing sort of broke emersion and made me not sink into the game as much as others I have played.

    The fact that the game does the same as its predecessor, in the way that it just drops you into the action without telling you how to play could be seen as a bad thing that breaks the experience. This, for myself, was the best immersion mechanic that could be used within a game, the reasoning is that games are immersive experiences, which are meant to make gamers connect, more so if it’s narrative-driven like Hellblade. The removal of the ‘tutorial’ of how to play and the removal of prompts and everything makes an immersive experience that much more real. I can sink into most games, be they Call Of Duty, Yakuza, or Need For Speed, but the sense of immersion that is felt is different with each. In Hellblade’s case, the need to feel your way through how to play makes this all the better.

    Looking for more reviews to read? Be sure to visit this page and discover a wide range of informative and insightful reviews. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to gain valuable insights and make informed decisions.

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    SUMMARY

    Reenter the dark world of Senua, in a new quest, this time to save everyone. Rising from a slave to giant slayer Senua fights off her darkness and discovers that she is more than her fathers daughter.

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    Reenter the dark world of Senua, in a new quest, this time to save everyone. Rising from a slave to giant slayer Senua fights off her darkness and discovers that she is more than her fathers daughter.Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II Review