Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is not exactly a game that strikes you as having a permadeath mechanic, but it sure is there.
This information is starting to come out now that reviews have started hitting, and it’s left a lot of people confused.
Many games have permadeath features, but they’re mostly indie rogue-likes and not something of this calibre, and it’s not something you often see in an action game. According to PCGamesN, if you keep dying, the game will erase your save file and send you right back to the start.
On Senua’s right arm, there’s an oily corruption that keeps track of this. The more you die, the more the curse spreads and gets closer and closer to her head. When that happens, the game ends and you’re sent back to the beginning.
This can be frustrating in a six-to-eight-hour game, but the site’s review points out that there are moments where you’re not sure if you’re supposed to die as part of the story, or if you’re failing. It gives the example of a particular section where an overwhelming number of enemies attack Senua, elevating this fear of losing even further.
It’s all part of the game’s conceit, and though it’s no doubt a commitment worthy of praise, some will simply scoff and move on.
Update: PCGamesN has tested how many times you need to die to trigger the save file wiu[pe in hellbalde: Senua’s Sacrifice, and it turns out it’s not true. As Brenna noted in her review (where she questioned whether the mechanic really existed or not), lying to you about this is very on theme for the game.
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is out now on PC and PS4.