Hellblade Seuna

Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice
Developer(s)Ninja Theory[a]
Publisher(s)Ninja Theory[b]
Director(s)Tameem Antoniades
Producer(s)Rupert Brooker
Designer(s)
Programmer(s)
  • Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 is developer Ninja Theory’s highly-anticipated sequel to its 2017 title Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice.
  • Exclusive to Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and PC, the sequel was revealed at the Game Awards 2019 with a dark and mysterious trailer that didn’t really give much away.
  • It wasn't until The Game Awards 2021 that we finally saw a gameplay trailer, but there's still no release date for the game.
  • It’s now been more than three years since we fought through the depths of Hel with Senua on her journey to rescue the soul of her dead lover from the goddess Hela, so we’re more than ready to jump into a sequel.
Artist(s)Hugues Giboire
Writer(s)Tameem Antoniades
Composer(s)
EngineUnreal Engine 4
Platform(s)
Release
  • And, from what we've seen so far, the wait will definitely be worth it.
  • While solid details on Hellblade 2 may be scarce, the footage we've seen is frankly breathtaking.
  • Senua's character model is unbelievably detailed (even more so than in Senua's Sacrifice) as is the beautifully bleak world itself, meaning we can likely expect Hellblade 2 to be a real showcase of what the Xbox Series X is capable of - and we can't wait.
  • Want to know more about Sena's next adventure?
  • Read on for everything we know so far about Senua's Saga: Hellblade 2.
  • The sequel to 2017's Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice.
  • When can I play it?
  • What can I play it on?
Genre(s)Action-adventure
Mode(s)Single-player

Xbox Series X/S and PC confirmed. Senua's Saga: Hellblade 2 currently doesn't have a release date, but we do know it will release for Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and PC - and will be available on Xbox Game Pass on day one. While we were hoping to see developer Ninja Theory announce a 2022 release date for Hellblade 2, that's likely wishful thinking based on comments the sequel's chief design director made last year. The comments were made in a development update released on Ninja Theory’s YouTube channel in June 2021. In it, Tameem Antoniades, Ninja Theory founder and Chief Design Director, said the team is currently building "a good chunky slice of the game before we then move into full production to build out the rest".

While the video did go on to show snippets of what Ninja Theory has been working on (and it's a lot), the idea that - at that point - even a slice of the game hadn’t yet been completed indicates that a full release for the Xbox and PC exclusive is still some time away. It's possible too, that the slice they were working on was the gameplay trailer shown at The Game Awards 2021. What this means in terms of a release date for Hellblade 2 is yet to be seen, but we wouldn’t expect to get our hands on Senua's next adventure until at least 2023. Gameplay trailerThe first gameplay trailer for Senua's Saga: Hellblade 2 was revealed during The Game Awards 2021 and, to be honest, we're still reeling from it.

The six-minute cinematic gameplay trailer sees Senua leading an army as they take on a huge, grotesque creature lurking in a cave. The trailer contains the same binaural audio effects that represent Senua's psychosis as the first game, with impressive facial animations and cinematic effects on display, that suggest Hellblade 2 will truly take advantage of the Xbox Series X's immense power. Check it out below:. Announcement trailerSenua's Saga: Hellblade 2 was officially announced for Xbox Series X at the Game Awards 2019, with a peculiar and gritty reveal trailer.

Senua's Saga: Hellblade 2 release date and platforms

While the trailer didn't give much away in terms of story and gameplay, it did confirm that this sequel looks much darker than its predecessor - which was already pretty dark. Check it out below:. Senua's character model is incredibly detailedDeveloper Ninja Theory has shared two images showing a close-up of Senua's character model and they're unbelievably detailed. From the snot running out of Senua's nose to the creases of her lips, Ninja Theory is definitely not messing around when it comes to the little details that make Senua look truly realistic. The developer cites its development of skin and eye materials using studio references for its ability to make Senua look life-like. It's certainly got us excited to see more of Hellblade 2, and Senua, in action. Senua is brought to life in Senua's Saga: Hellblade II thanks to our development of skin and eye materials using studio references.

pic.twitter.com/dTX2ETJmAKJanuary 20, 2022. No tricks hereFollowing the gameplay reveal of Hellblade 2, Ninja Theory Audio Director David García took to Twitter to provide some details about the trailer's audio. According to García, the gameplay trailer was entirely captured in-engine in real-time and "almost all" of the footage's 3D sounds use Project Acoustics and spatial audio. Project Acoustics is Microsoft's wave acoustics engine for 3D interactive experiences. Essentially, it allows for realistic acoustics to be introduced into 3D environments. Spatial audio, meanwhile, is immersive sound that comes from (or seems to) all angles. Some audio notes about our gameplay trailer: https://t.co/eJxBL8F3wU-Almost all 3d sounds use Project acoustics and spatial audio: incredible technologies. -Everything in this demo is in engine, real time, no tricks. As such not everything is perfect(yet :D)December 12, 2021. Still a while offNinja Theory said in June 2021 that Senua's Saga: Hellblade 2 is still very early in its development in a teaser reel. In the reel (which doesn’t show any new gameplay footage) studio founder Tameem Antoniades explains, “What we're doing right now is building a good chunky slice of the game before we then move into full production to build out the rest.” He adds, “Hellblade was very special to us and we didn't want to do a straight sequel.

We wanted to do something extra special and so we're making our lives as difficult as possible in that pursuit.” . Behind-the-scenes videos on Ninja Theory’s social channels in addition to this video have provided an insight into how much work the team is putting in in the name of detail, particularly with regards to characters and setting. Overall, it seems safe to say that the game is still a good way off yet and could maybe even be a 2023 or beyond title. Another behind the scenes lookNinja Theory has been giving some more behind-the-scenes looks at the development of Hellblade 2, this time taking a look at some of the practical effects that are being used. In a short video shared through the developer’s Twitter account, we can see members of the team setting clothing on fire with the caption “Sometimes to create, you must first destroy. Experimenting with textural effects on clothing.” In a follow-up tweet, the team revealed that they’ll be using high-quality scans of the clothes to “reach an amazing level of detail” in the game.

Reception[edit]

It's high quality scans like this that will help us reach an amazing level of detail in our games. pic.twitter.com/UpokEyCCjrSeptember 6, 2021. Cloud forming technologyThe Ninja Theory Twitter account tweeted out a look at how the team is using “flow maps” to both make clouds form and dissolve naturally in Hellblade 2. It’s a very small look at how development on the game is progressing but it shows the attention to detail Ninja Theory is applying to the next Hellblade game. Bit cloudy isn't it? Here we're using flow maps to make clouds form and dissolve naturally in Senua's Saga: Hellblade II #WIP pic.twitter.com/OrIoyGjiHKMay 25, 2021. Behind the scenes lookUpdates on Hellblade 2 have been pretty thin on the ground, so a behind-the-scenes update from the game’s star Melina Juergens was no doubt welcome for fans. The video diary places a real focus on how Juergens prepared for the role of Senua this time around, with a glimpse at some pretty intense combat training. This does hint at a focus on realistic, authentic combat within the game itself. Juergens embarked on a regime of fitness training as well as taking weapons training with C.C. Smiff, the swordmaster and stunt choreographer for the recent Star Wars trilogy and Game of Thrones.

The game’s animators also took combat courses so that they could provide realistic movements for the game’s enemies during motion capture sessions. Juergens also revealed that she suffers from the chronic pain condition fibromyalgia, explaining it “basically means my joints and bones and things like that are always in pain and I have a lot of fatigue. And also when I’m training I need quite a lot of time to recover after every session.”. You can watch the video diary for yourself below and Juergens has said that more will be coming in another episode in the future. No more content for Bleeding EdgeNinja Theory has said that it'll be adding no more content to Bleeding Edge as it's putting its focus on developing Hellblade 2, Project Mara, and The Insight Project. With the studio now focusing on our new projects (Senua’s Saga, Project Mara & The Insight Project) we have decided that there will be no further content updates for Bleeding Edge. The game is still playable on Xbox and PC.

Thank you to the fans & keep teaming up & causing chaos!January 28, 2021. Melina Juergens tweetsMelina Juergens, the lead actress who plays Senua in the Hellblade series, has posted a tweet making reference to Hellblade 2. The tweet includes a picture of Juergens painted with Senua’s rune-like patterns and scars and is captioned with the phrase “For every battle won, a greater battle takes its place”, alongside Senua’s Saga-related tags. It’s unclear whether the tweet is an indication that Juergens is on set working on the game or whether she’s just showing fans some in-character makeup. For every battle won, a greater battle takes its place ⚔️ #senuassaga #hellbladesenuassacrifice Makeup: @puffjockey pic.twitter.com/ORAqwI71VMJanuary 15, 2021. Running on Unreal Engine 5Microsoft has confirmed that Hellblade 2 will use Unreal Engine 5 in an official Xbox Wire post.

Trivia[]

According to Xbox, "The team will be building the game on Unreal 5 and leveraging the power of Xbox Series X to bring the Hellblade franchise to levels never before seen." They added that the footage of the game shown during The Game Awards in 2019 "was captured in-engine and reflects the power of Xbox Series X available to developers to deliver new universes, experiences and games in ways you have never imagined." Icelandic inspirationHellblade 2 made an unexpected appearance during the Xbox Games Showcase on July 23, 2021, where it was revealed that the game would be taking place in Iceland. In developer Ninja Theory's 'Dreadnought' developer diary series, the team spoke of how it has been location scouting across the country much as you would for a Hollywood film, including taking audio recordings for a special immersive, accurate representation of the landscape.

Check out the video below for more. What about the story?We don't actually know anything about Hellblade 2's story yet but, from the trailer, it seems to be much darker than its predecessor. The trailer shows pagan rituals, breathtaking landscapes, limbs hanging from archways and a few battle sequences. There's also some hints towards Vikings - which would make sense given the time period. But this is speculation and we remain largely in the dark. Senua is a Pictish warrior and the main protagonist of Hellblade: Senua's SacrificeandSenua's Saga: Hellblade II.A young woman with a troubled life, exacerbated by severe psychosis, she initially finds herself on a personal journey into the depths of Helheim, in order to save the soul of her lover, Dillion.

Senua's Saga: Hellblade 2 news

Senua is a young woman with fair skin, pale blue eyes and long dark brown hair. While Senua is slender, she is muscular and has light scars throughout her skin, some more notable on her face. Her hair is tied in a high ponytail and clumped together in plaits and locs coated in lime and adorned with beads. Senua and her people (the ones who lived in her village before abandoning it to the Northmen) were part of a people known as the Picts. In the time frame that the original game takes place, Senua wears distinctive woad blue face paint heavily around her eyes, her left arm, across her collar bones and her bottom lip. This type of paint and style has existed among the Pict tribes for centuries; the word "Pict" comes from Eumenius in 297 AD, meaning "the painted people". According to many Roman generals and Historians throughout their conquest of the British Isles, tribes like Picts and Iceni would cover themselves in blue paint to blend in the fog before the sun rose. Senua wears a leather headpiece decorated with a large silver ornament set with blue stones at the front and stitched with triskelions (triple spirals) at the sides.

She wears a simple plaid and leather outfit, consisting of detailed patterning on the chest, bare arms and a wolf fur collar fastened with a silver brooch. She wears a leather swordbelt, carrying her sword at her left hip, a bag containing Dillion's head and a polished iron mirror that was given to her by Druth. This mirror is used to gaze into the otherworld. In her opening scene debut, Senua is covered in flecks of mud, dirt and blood. Throughout the game, Senua's appearance changes; the blue woad on her body and face are almost washed off in her first encounter with Hela. Additionally, regardless of how many times Senua dies, the dark rot on her left arm continues to travel up her neck. As Senua's battle is both mental and physical, she endures injuries, such as a gash on her forehead and facial scars, by the end of the game.

Appearance[]

In the sequel, Senua's face paint has become much more intricate and features a heavy red colour scheme along her entire face and neck, in addition to black markings of runes and other symbols that resemble tattoos. Her chin has been painted a dark colour, giving it the appearance that running liquid is coming out of her mouth. Senua's headpiece has been simplified, now a curved piece of leather embroiled with the sigil for her Focus. Her new outfit is based around a more common depiction of armour, though fashioned from multiple leather parts along her chest and shoulders that are held together by loops of metal. She also wears a thin strip of fabric around her right arm. Senua exhibits a very reserved and somewhat meek personality, which stems from her years of isolation and abuse. While on her journey to Helheim, Senua has many experiences that cause her to panic or be afraid, such as when she is trapped in the dark or escaping an inferno. Despite the unpleasantness throughout the journey, she also displays dogged determination, pushing through treacherous landscapes and trials to reach her goal.

Whenever she is threatened by an enemy, she readily draws her sword and faces them in combat. Senua is also capable of expressing anger and distress towards obstacles, often in her interactions with the Darkness. Senua suffers from deep trauma originating from her early childhood, which began to escalate the early stages of her psychosis. Senua's psychosis manifests in both auditory, visual, and sensory hallucinations, leaving her constantly plagued by various female voices dubbed by the game devs as "The Furies".

—Prof. Paul Fletcher, neuroscientist and psychosis expert, who worked on the game.[6]

The voices are her guides; they serve as evasive thoughts, doubts, warnings, and even sometimes encouraging. Senua has a tenuous relationship with her voices, occasionally telling them to leave her alone, but she will also listen to their advice in combat and in solving puzzles. For most of the game, she sees the voices as part of a "curse," sometimes trying to fight it. In addition to her psychotic hallucinations, Senua suffers from delusions – a belief maintained even when firmly contradicted by reason or logic. Senua also interacts with her visual hallucinations even when she knows they may not be real, speaking to them when they manifest as people from her past.

Senua also suffers from depression and guilt caused by Dillion's murder, believing that it is her fault for Dillion's death due to her "darkness" inflicting the village. Ridden with this guilt, Senua decides to take his skull (which the Celts believed housed the soul) to Helheim in a desperate attempt to bargain for his soul, fueled by Druth's tales of the Northmen and their mythology. Senua obtains the dark rot from Hela, offering herself in place of Dillion. Through Druth's words, she goes through the gates of Valravn and Surtr, eventually through the trials of Odin to restore the god-killing sword, Gramr. Along her quest, Senua is forced to face the memories of her childhood, the abuse of her father, meeting Dillion, joining his group, and her eventual self-exile. By the time Senua reaches the final door to Helheim, she has rediscovered a long, repressed memory of her father's fanatic beliefs that drove him to burn her mother alive to cure her of her "darkness".

Senua's unyielding and loyal nature pushes her to the brink of death, remaining defiant to Hela despite her admission that she has "nothing else to give" to the goddess. It is then Senua learns to shed not only her guilt for Dillion, but to recgonize that what her father had raised her to think was a lie. And while Senua will always be plagued by her "darkness", she learns to say goodbye to Dillion and remembers what her mother has told her to look at the world with bright eyes. By this, Senua has come to accept that she cannot change her situation nor the fate of a loved one and continues on her quest, with seemingly the only real friends she has left, the voices. Senua is an adept warrior, despite essentially being self-taught. She is capable of quick and heavy attacks, parrying and dodging, and can kick an enemy to prevent it from blocking her attacks.

Appearances[edit]

She can also charge an opponent to either get closer or directly attack or kick it. Her condition gives her a capacity known as "Focus," referencing her tendency to view the world in a different light, which she can use in and out of combat. In combat, if she parries or dodges successfully enough time, she can use her focus ability to move faster than her enemies or dissipate the shadows some of them are made of, which makes them impervious to regular attacks. When using her focus on the lorestones, she triggers a memory of Druth telling her about the Northmen's mythology. Her focus is also used to find runes in environments that will unlock doors or gates that bar her path. Senua's people, the Picts, originated from what is now known as Scotland. More specifically, Senua and her people originate from the Orkney Islands. While it isn't specifically stated in game, through Tameem's comments throughout the Dev Diaries, the player can assume that Senua is the last one of her village, avoiding clashing with the invading Northmen while exiling herself, before Dillion's death.

At a young age, Senua's psychosis manifested itself in visions that only she could see, an ailment she shared with her mother, Galena. Though Galena tried to show Senua that her "sight" was a special thing, her druid father, Zynbel, saw their conditions as "darkness", a curse from the gods that would doom them all. To appease those gods, Zynbel killed Galena by burning her alive when Senua was only five. Senua's trauma at witnessing the event caused her psychosis to worsen and repress the memory, leading her to believe that her mother took her own life to escape her darkness. For the next few years of her life, Senua was kept inside her home and abused by Zynbel, both emotionally and physically.

He would lock her away in a pit and belittle her condition in an effort to defeat the darkness. Senua was only allowed to leave her home on rare occasions to gather resources. On one of those rare rare outings, at the age of fifteen, Senua spotted Dillion practicing his swordfighting. In the following days, Senua began to practice swordfighting by mimicking Dillion's movements from a distance. One day, Senua mustered the courage to apporach Dillion and he took notice of Senua's sword skills, and the two became friends. Dillion also encouraged Senua to participate in the warrior trials, which she accepted. Both Senua and Dillion passed the warrior trials, and they grew closer.

The two of them eventually fell in love, and Senua saw Dillion as her one ray of light in her darkness, her one hope in a world that seemed to conspire against her. With Dillion's encouragement, Senua decided to confront Zynbel about leaving with Dillion. Zynbel attempted to stop Senua from leaving, but Senua fended her father off with her sword and left for good, but not before Zynbel warned her that she would have blood on her hands, which Senua ignored. After Senua left her home with Dillion, she started a new life as a warrior of Dillion's village. She lived many happy years with Dillion by her side. However, after a plague broke out in Senua's village and killed many, including Dillion's father, Senua began to wonder whether Zynbel was right about her condition being a curse.

Senua's Saga: Hellblade 2: cut to the chase

Senua decided to journey into the Wilds in an effort to protect Dillion and overcome the darkness that plagued her. Out in the Wilds, she encountered Druth, an old scholar who was badly burnt in his attempts to escape his Northmen slave masters. The pair of them bonded as Druth told stories of his captors, giving life to their myths and lore through tales of Norse gods. Though he eventually succumbed to his wounds, he vowed to aid Senua in this life and the next for listening to his stories. However, once Senua returned home, she found that her village had been attacked by the Northmen that Druth had warned her about.

She discovered Dillion, sacrificed in a gruesome display of a "blood eagle" to the Norse gods and suffered a psychotic breakdown. Remembering the stories of the gods she was told, Senua reasoned that if she took Dillion's head to Helheim, the Norse realm of the dead, she would be able to bargain with its ruler, Hela, and win back his soul.

Senua's Saga: Hellblade 2 trailers

Aggregate score
AggregatorScore
MetacriticPC: 83/100[34]
PS4: 81/100[35]
XONE: 88/100[36]
NS: 80/100[37]
Review scores
PublicationScore
Destructoid7.5/10[38]
EGM8.5/10[39]
Game Informer8/10[40]
GameSpot8/10[41]
Giant Bomb[5]
IGN9/10[3]
PC Gamer (US)78/100[42]
VideoGamer.com9/10[2]

There was nothing left for Senua but to journey north. After remembering Druth's instructions to reach the borders of Helheim, Senua finds herself on the outskirts and begins to venture in. As she travels further inside, she begins to remember pieces of her past, including her memories of meeting and spending time with Dillion as well as Druth's stories in order to overcome the obstacles that face her. At every turn, the voices of the Furies continue to both taunt and encourage her in a confusing contradiction. She is also pursued by an entity called the Shadow, a dark manifested voice that discourages Senua in her efforts to save Dillion, warning that it will always be with her. To unlock the bridge to Helheim, Senua is able to defeat the fire god Surtr and the god of illusions, Valravn, solving various problems in order to reach her two foes. After this, Senua reaches the bridge to Helheim and is confronted by Hela herself.

Senua's confidence wavers at seeing the source of her darkness, as a result, Senua's sword is shattered and she is knocked off the bridge. Barely surviving the encounter, Senua cauterizes a head wound and she has visions of Druth a man-shaped light, which she believes to be Dillion. She follows the light to a great tree, where a sword, Gramr, is stuck within it. Senua is informed by Druth that Gramr is said to be strong enough to kill Gods, such as Hela. To obtain it, She must complete the four Trials of Odin, which are related to her past. Senua navigates through a labyrinth, navigates through darkness while being stalked by monsters, evades a fire monster in a swamp house, and solves puzzles in a tower. Upon completing all four trials, Senua removes the sword from the tree, which infuriates the Shadow, who casts Senua into an apocalyptic place called the Sea of Corpses, asserting that Senua is responsible for the death around her. After battling a large horde of Northmen, Senua escapes from the Sea of Corpses and starts heading back towards Helheim. Upon entering the mountain where the bridge to Helheim is, Senua is stalked in the darkness by a new enemy. The Shadow informs Senua that the underground caverns in which she is navigating are home to a giant beast named Garm, which guards Helheim.

Senua uses the light and torches to evade Garm, which only stalks her from the shadows. During this time, Senua loses Dillion's head as it falls into an abyss, at the center of the Beast's lair. Needing Dillion's head to ressurect him, Senua journies into the center of the monster's lair and faces it in single combat, emerging victorious after a long battle.

—Giant Bomb[5]

With Garm dead and the head reclaimed, the Shadow tells Senua that it has been trying to keep her from reaching Hela for her own safety, but believes she has fought hard enough to earn the right to see beyond the veil of the darkness. Leaving Garm's lair, Senua repairs the bridge to Helheim, which was left damaged at the previous encounter with Hela, and finally enters Helheim. The Furies do not want Senua to face Hela, fearing that they will die along with her, but Senua leaves them behind and enters Hela's sanctum. As she enters, Senua realizes that the Shadow is her mind's manifestation of her father, continuing to abuse her even years after her village was attacked, and also learns the truth about her mother's death. As Hela herself speaks with the Shadow's voice, she charges through an initial onslaught of Northmen, as well as a shadow taking the forms of Valraven, Surtr, and Garm, to reach Hela.

As Senua reaches Hela's platform, she summons an infinite amount of Northmen, preventing Senua from attacking her. When Senua is eventually overwhelmed by her enemies, Hela kneels before her and takes her sword. Senua both curses and pleads with Hela, claiming she's not afraid of sacrificing her life to save Dillion but also begging to set him free. A whirlwind of emotions tears through her mind before finally, she tells Hela that if Dillion cannot be save, then she has nothing left to life for, so Hela should just kill her now. Hela obliges and impales Senua with her own sword. As Senua slumps to the ground, she recalls Dillion telling her of the importance of the acceptance of loss.

Hela takes Dillion's head to the edge of the battleground and lets it fall into the abyss. As the camera pans back, Hela has become Senua and the corpse on the ground has the appearance of Hela instead. With the guilt of losing Dillion finally lifted from her mind, Senua is able to accept that the voices in her head are not a curse or a darkness, but simply a part of who she is and that it didn't cause all the plague, Northmen invasion, or her mother's death. As the hellish imagery of Helheim fades away, Senua addresses the player, inviting them to follow her and her newly returned Furies as they have another story to tell.

Senua arrives on the outskirts of Helheim. Senua pleads with Hela for Dillion's soul. Fighting on the bridge to Hellheim.

References[edit]

Senua wading through the Sea of Corpses. Senua fights her inner darkness. After defeating Hela's forces, Senua comes to terms with her darkness. Senua was modeled after her actress, Melina Juergens. It is unclear how much of Senua's journey is actually real and how much of it is based in the psychotic delusions of her mind. Though there are supernatural elements at play, all of Senua's experiences are based on her interpretations of the Norse stories that Druth told her. The ending scenes seem to symbolise that Senua has come to realise that her psychosis is not a curse, but an illness that she must learn to deal with and the fantasy of confronting the gods fades as she does so.

If the player pays close attention, they will notice Hela in the place of Senua. Senua could also have a deep fear of becoming like her mother, in regards to the visual presentation of Hela. In Norse mythology, Hela is described as half-rotting, however in Hellblade, Hela is half-burned. When Senua comes to realize the truth of her mother, Galena's face is half-burntand her mother's voice speaks through Hela as she drops Dillion's head into the sea below. Druth refers both to he and Senua as geilts. This is another Irish term and it refers to a person that goes mad from terror or has seen too much battle. Geilts are outsiders among their community, said to have control over illusion, prophets, or seers. The term can also refer to birds (which explains why Druth is wearing feathers). A geilt is definitely not out of the norm for the Celts; other geilts in Celtic legends are Mad Sweeny and Merlin.

Merlin, especially, who's Welsh counterpart, Myrddin Wyltt, a madman who lived in the forests and possibly a druid and bard. Senua's namesake comes from a recently discovered ritual spring, a Romano-British goddess who bares the same name. her name is possibly related to the Proto-Celtic 'seno' meaning "old". Some academics have associated the name to the ancient river Senua that was once located in southern Britain, which may have also been known as Alde, from the Anglo-Saxon 'ald' meaning old. Senua is performed by Melina Juergens, Ninja Theory's video producer. While the developers were searching for an actress for the role of Senua, they simultaneously had Melina test out the motion capture technology and act out Senua's lines until they decided to use her instead.

She had no acting experience prior to this. Senua is the player character and protagonist of the Hellblade video game series, which consists of the 2017 video game Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice that marks her first appearance, as well the upcoming sequel Senua's Saga: Hellblade II. She is presented as a Pict warrior who experiences disturbances and hallucinations due to an undiagnosed mental disorder. As a result of Senua's internal struggle with her delusional beliefs, she is determined to travel to the Norse afterlife realm Helheim with the notion of rescuing the soul of her lover from the Norse goddessHela following his killing by Norsemen invaders, which occurred prior to the events of Senua's Sacrifice.

Created by a development team led by director Tameem Antoniades at British video game developer Ninja Theory, Senua was the product of extensive research efforts conducted by the team into various topics like Celtic history, Norse mythology, and mental disorders.

—Prof. Charles Fernyhough, an expert on voice hearing, on the game's portrayal of the voices in Senua's head.[16]

Her appearance, in particular her facial war paint and braided hair clumped with lime, is based on a popular belief about the way Celtic warriors would have looked like. Senua is played by Ninja Theory employee Melina Juergens, who was initially used as a stand-in for the character while the team were adjusting their motion capture techniques early in development. Encouraged by Antoniades to channel her own emotions into the context of Senua's struggle, Juergens became the team's final choice to portray the character even though she had no prior acting experience. Senua has received a very positive reception, with many critics regarding the portrayal of the character's mental health condition as a landmark representation of people with mental health disorders in the video game medium. Juergens' debut acting performance as Senua has earned critical acclaim, and is considered by critics to be instrumental to the generally positive reception of Senua's Sacrifice.

Senua's name is derived from a misnomer for Senuna, a Celtic goddess previously lost to recorded history but was re-discovered at Ashwell End in Hertfordshire in the year 2002. The goddess' name was originally read incorrectly as "Senua".[1] The team modeled Senua's character archetype as a warrior woman after historical accounts of the Iceni queen Boudica, who led an uprising against the invading Roman Empire in the first century AD.[1]. Senua's mental disorder originally occupied a less central role to the story of Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice. During the team's research into Celtic culture and history, they discover that the Celts used the term "gelt" for a person who appeared to have been driven mad by a curse, grief, or the trauma of a battle, and that such individuals would often go on a self-imposed exile into the woods in search of penance, punishment and purgatory. The team saw this as an opportunity to develop Senua's backstory as a gelt who was stigmatized and isolated by her community due to her mental condition, and was eventually driven into exile. The Darkness, a malevolent entity which antagonizes Senua throughout the narrative of Senua's Sacrifice, is explained as the manifestation of the abuse and mistreatment she suffered at the hands of her father Zynbel during her youth.[1].

Character development history[edit]

Antoniades noted that mental trauma or severe mental illness is less conspicuous compared to the pain and suffering caused by physical diseases or physical trauma. Antoniades developed Senua's quest and trauma on the theory that the Norsemen would sacrifice the leaders of the tribes they had conquered to their gods, which motivates Senua to seek out Hela, the Norse goddess of death, in an attempt to bargain for the release of her lover Dillion's soul from Helheim.[1] The narrative of Senua's Sacrifice was written in such a way that Senua must internalize and accept the logic and meaning behind a world that functions with a different set of rules from her perspective in order to complete her quest.

Game director and lead writer Tameem Antoniades indicated that the upcoming sequel, Senua's Saga: Hellblade II, builds on the first game's personal insight into psychosis to show "how madness and suffering shapes myths, gods, and religion".[8] In a preview trailer, Senua is depicted with the persona of a fierce warrior, a departure from her quiet and shy personality sighted in Senua's Sacrifice.[9]. Senua's in-game model in Senua's Sacrifice is built from a combination of facial scans and motion capture technology. Senua's clothing, designed with consideration for her personality and mental condition, provides significant insight into her past. Her headpiece represents a physical reminder of her internal struggle, with the idea that she wears it as a "kind of protector" due to the voices that intrude into her head.[10] Antoniades noted that the Celts from Senua's time period were in fact skilled craftsmen in spite of their reputation as a "barbarian" culture; her jewelry is designed to be "incredibly ornate", and her furred collar made from wolf fur.

Her brooch is a warrior pin which resembles a miniature sword, symbolically representing her warrior status conferred to her by Dillion.[10] According to Antoniades, the brooches were originally Celtic pins favored by women from Senua's era, but were later appropriated by the Vikings who took a liking to them, and would later become a common cultural motif in cultural or media depictions of Vikings. The brooch's design evokes the triquetra symbol which are a recurring feature in Celtic symbology, though the team lacked context as to the deeper meaning behind the symbolism as very few Celtic writings survive to the present day. Antoniades suggested from his team's research that it is "variously described as infinity", or that it originally had another meaning which became lost in time while Christianity eventually appropriated Celtic and Pagan symbolism to develop its doctrine of the Trinity.[10].

History[]

Senua is redesigned for the upcoming sequel, Senua's Saga: Hellblade II. Tom McInerney is the makeup artist responsible for the character's new look, which includes a different combination of face paint colours as well as mystical rune-like markings drawn on Juergen's face.[12][13]. To prepare for her reprisal as Senua in Hellblade II and deliver a more realistic take of the character by emulating a "proper warrior", Juergens trained to do her own stunts and learn how to sword fight. Along with Antoniades, Juergens did research on sword fighting and different courses early in development, and found a screen combat academy near London where she took a film combat course.[16] She worked with C.C. Smiff, who coordinated sword fight sequences in projects such as the Star Wars sequel trilogy and the Game of Thrones television series.[17] Juergens increased the intensity of her fitness training sessions, but found it challenging as she needs a lot of time to recover after every session because she suffers from a chronic pain condition called fibromyalgia, with symptoms including fatigue as well as recurring pain in her bones and joints.

Gallery[]

YearAwardCategoryResultRef.
2017The Independent Game Developers' Association Awards 2017Best Audio DesignNominated[67]
Best Visual DesignNominated
Best Action and Adventure GameWon
Golden Joystick Awards 2017Best AudioNominated[68]
Best Gaming Performance (for Melina Juergens)Nominated
Breakthrough Award (for Melina Juergens)Nominated
The Game Awards 2017Best NarrativeNominated[69][70]
Best Audio DesignWon
Best Performance (for Melina Juergens)Won
Games for ImpactWon
Best Independent GameNominated
2018Writers' Guild of Great Britain AwardsBest Writing in a Video GameWon[71]
45th Annie AwardsOutstanding Achievement for Character Animation in a Video GameNominated[72][73]
D.I.C.E. AwardsOutstanding Achievement in AnimationNominated[74]
Outstanding Achievement in Art DirectionNominated
Outstanding Achievement in Character (for Senua)Won
Outstanding Achievement in StoryNominated
Outstanding Technical AchievementNominated
SXSW Gaming AwardsExcellence in SFXNominated[75][76]
Excellence in Technical AchievementNominated
Excellence in Visual AchievementNominated
Most Promising New Intellectual PropertyNominated
Excellence in NarrativeNominated
Matthew Crump Cultural Innovation AwardNominated
Game Developers Choice AwardsBest AudioNominated[77][78]
Best NarrativeNominated
Best TechnologyNominated
14th British Academy Games AwardsBest GameNominated[79][80]
British GameWon
Artistic AchievementWon
Audio AchievementWon
Game Beyond EntertainmentWon
Game InnovationNominated
MusicNominated
NarrativeNominated
Performer (for Melina Juergens)Won
Ivor Novello AwardsBest Original Video Game ScoreNominated[81]
Develop AwardsAnimationNominated[82][83]
Visual DesignNominated
Music DesignWon
Sound Design (Ninja Theory)Nominated
Writing or Narrative DesignWon
The Independent Game Developers' Association Awards 2018Creativity AwardWon[84][85]
Best Audio DesignNominated
Diversity AwardNominated
Golden Joystick Awards 2018Xbox Game of the YearNominated[86][87]
20192019 Webby AwardsAction GameNominated[88][89]
Best Art DirectionWon
Best Music/Sound DesignNominated
Best Visual DesignNominated
Best Writing (People's Voice)Won
Technical AchievementNominated
The Independent Game Developers' Association Awards 2019Creativity AwardNominated[90]

Juergens had trained for two years by June 2021, which resulted in her learning different fighting styles and systems.[18][16] With the development team's focus on authenticity and realistic combat sequences, the extent of Senua's combat repertoire in the upcoming sequel will be limited to whatever moves Juergens could realistically execute during the motion capture process.[17]. Juergens sometimes used objects as props to assist with the motion capture process; in September 2021, Ninja Theory released a behind-the-scenes video for Hellblade II which showed how still shots of Juergens' eyes were captured.

Senua

Juergens would rest her chin on a household contraption made by a colleague from a stand, a wooden outside frame to center the shot, and a toilet punger. The top part consists of a taped headrest for Juergens's forehead, while the plunger provides stability to allow accurate shots to be taken by the camera.[19].

Characteristics[]

  1. Senua appears as the protagonist of Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice, which is set in the late 8th century.
  2. Grieving from the grim discovery upon her return from self-imposed exile to her village that Dillion had been sacrificed to the Norsemen's gods via the blood eagle, a ritualized method of execution, Senua embarks on a journey to Helheim.

Design[edit]

  1. She is guided by her memories of her deceased friend and mentor Druth, a former slave of the Norsemen who used to tell her stories about Norse legends, which inspired her quest to save Dillion's soul from the Norse gods.
  2. Senua also believes that she is cursed to hear the voices of spirits, referred to as "Furies", in her head. Plagued by her own inner darkness, it manifests as externally focused visions and phantasms, which she must battle in order to continue her quest. Her backstory is unveiled over the course of the game's story through her hallucinations, which includes traumatic memories of her father Zynbel and the violent death of her mother Galena, who was also mentally ill, by her husband's hand.
  3. At the ending of Senua's Sacrifice, she realizes that it is impossible to bring Dillion back from the dead, and comes to terms with her loss and accepts the voices she hears as well as the hallucinations she experiences as a part of herself. Senua is confirmed as the protagonist of the upcoming sequel to Hellblade, titled Senua's Saga: Hellblade II, which takes place in 9th century Iceland.
  4. Senua has garnered widespread critical acclaim. For their work with Senua, Ninja Theory was awarded Outstanding Achievement in Character at the 2017 D.I.C.E. Senua's Sacrifice was used as part of a study into whether video games reduce mental health stigma by researchers of Florida State University.
  5. The organizers of the study said they chose the game because it is "one of the best representations of mental health that exists in video games" and that respondents who played the video game as Senua tend to empathize with her experiences, and by extension seemingly desire less distance from individuals who are mentally ill.[32].
  6. Senua has been discussed by some publications as part of an emerging wider trend with regards to the shifting portrayals of female characters in the video game medium during the 2010s.[33][34][35]. ^ abcdefgHellblade: Senua's Psychosis (in-game documentary). 2017.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link).
  7. ^Briers, Michael (August 9, 2017). "Hellblade and Why Mental Illness Needs the Mainstream Spotlight". PlayStationLifeStyle.net. Archived from the original on August 9, 2017.
  8. Retrieved August 13, 2017. ^ ab"Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice has really cool mo-cap tech but this interview is well into the creepy-ass uncanny valley". ^ abLloyd, James (October 10, 2017).
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  10. Retrieved June 11, 2015. ^ abcdeMessner, Steven (August 11, 2017). "The sensitive challenge of portraying psychosis in Hellblade" – via www.pcgamer.com. ^ abStaff, Polygon (November 27, 2019).
  11. "The 70 best video game characters of the decade". ^"New Hellblade Senua Costume Shown Off In Dev's First TikTok". ^"Senua's Saga: Hellblade II will be set in Iceland with highly realistic scenery".
  12. ^ abcdefghijkCork, Jeff. "Revealing The Finer Details Of Hellblade's Mysterious Heroine". ^Purchese, Robert (October 27, 2015). "Ninja Theory revisits Hellblade heroine Senua's face".
  13. ^Blake, Vikki (January 17, 2021). "Senua actor drops Hellblade 2 tease in this tweet". ^"Hellblade 2 Actor Teases Game News In Full Makeup". January 16, 2021. ^ abcdefghijklm""I would work on Hellblade for the rest of my life," says Senua's award-winning actress".
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  15. ^ abSheridan, Connor (April 20, 2021). "Hellblade 2 star shares how she learned to sword fight for the sequel". ^"Senua's Saga: Hellblade II looks stunning, but is a long way from completion". ^"Hellblade II Actress Puts Her Chin On A Toilet Plunger To Help Game Look Realistic".
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