The first reviews for Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice are out, and the reception is generally pretty positive, with the exception of one or two anomalies. A few reviews have got caught up on one major thing though - Hellblade deletes your game save if you die too much.
Screw up too many times and a rot begins to spread up Senua’s right arm and then her head. If the cursed affliction reaches the top of her head then it’s game over, permanently. It certainly adds a new element of pressure that we don’t typically have to deal with in games - the threat of everything being for nothing.
“If you die too much Hellblade deletes your save file. It's not an optional mode. It's an outdated, stupid waste of everyone's time,” tweeted out John ‘TotalBiscuit’ bain. “Your 'artistic vision' is moronic, I personally have no desire to even play the thing knowing that's there, regardless of difficulty. Honestly, if anyone thought a pro-consumer critic would be ok with that 'feature' then they didn't get to the thought part at all.” While the feature may be annoying for some, this strikes me as a sort of 'give me the game I want' commentary, rather than allowing the dev team delivering their vision.
Aside from this feature, the reaction to Hellblade has been largely enthusiastic. Of the 24 reviews out in the wild, 9 of them scored 85 or higher, 8 were between 75-84, while the remaining three were 69 or lower, providing a current average of 78. Down at the bottom end of the scale, Jim Sterling delivered a hammer blow to the average with a 1/10. He loved what he played, but thanks to a game breaking bug said he “can’t forgive one of the most destructive examples of a game being broken I’ve encountered in my career.”
A fairly mixed response then, but it looks as if there’s a great game lurking in here somewhere. The decision to actually delete game saves is a curious one, particularly since many folks would just drop the game entirely if they hit a tricky section three or four hours in. It’s obvious that Ninja Theory wanted the threat of death hanging heavily over the player, and it’s fairly unique way of achieving this. Whether it works, well, we’ll have to wait and see.
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is out today on PC and PlayStation 4, priced at $29.99 / £24.99.
What's your take on the added pressure introduced by this system? Do you think it will improve the experience, or does it not respect the player's time?