Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice appears to be a mainstream video game that approaches the subject of mental illness thoughtfully and sensitively – which may well be a first.
Senua, the protagonist of Hellblade, suffers from psychosis. This isn’t a new thing for video games, but in general, only smaller indies have managed to pull off depcitions of mental illness without contributing to stigma, perpetuating negative stereotypes, recycling lazy tropes or just being flat out, offensively wrong.
Hellblade developer Ninja Theory is trying to avoid those missteps by consulting both experts in psychiatry and people who have actually experienced psychosis. This doesn’t at all guarantee a good result, but as you’ll see in the video below, those who contributed their knowledge to the project seem really happy with the results, which is a good sign.
So Hellblade: Senua’s sacrifice looks like it might have something interesting to tell us about psychosis as well as being an ass-kicking action game with Ninja theory’s trademark cinematic pizazz. It comes out next week for PC and PS4, but not at retail.
We’ve been waiting on Hellblade for several years now, and it’ll be great to see how Ninja Theory’s daring bid on “AAA indie” and open development pans out.