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Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice (2017) is a dark fantasy adventure, drawing on Norse and Celtic mythology, where you play a young female Pict warrior, Senua. You explore and fight your way to Helheim to rescue the soul of her dead lover. As you play, though, you hear multiple voices in your head and wrestle with a decaying grip on reality. In this way, the game aims to represent, and offer a metaphor for, psychosis. You battle difficult enemies and solve puzzles but often fighting directly, or obvious solutions, are not the best way forward.

Created in partnership with neuroscientists, mental health specialists and those with lived experience of psychosis, the experience aims to share something of what it’s like to live with this kind of illness. The voices, confusion and delusions weave in and out of the action as Senua struggles to come to terms with the trauma and guilt of her past.

For adults, the game can provide a different window into the experience of someone close to them who struggles with mental illness. Some parents have played the game with older children as a way to engage with this difficult subject. The game succeeds by avoiding reducing its rendition to a literal or journalistic recreation. The story of Senua’s struggle is as much about resilience, persistence, bravery and dealing with guilt or failure as about any specific medical diagnosis. In this way, it offers a deeply relatable experience.

Our examiner, Andy Robertson, first checked Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice 4 years ago. It was re-examined by Ben Kendall and updated 8 months ago.
Kids not old enough for this yet? There are lots of games similar to Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice. Here are some similar younger-rated games:

Play StylePlay Style

This is an Action and Adventure game with Fighting and Narrative elements. This is a single-player game.

DurationDuration

Play Time: This game will take between 8 hours and 14 hours to complete. The main story of the game can be completed in around 8 hours. Taking your time or playing on a harder difficulty level can extend this challenge to 14 hours.

Age RatingsAge Ratings

Content Rating

Rated PEGI 18 for strong violence and sexual expletives. Gameplay violence although very bloody is nevertheless determined not to be gross violence. One of the cinematic sequences however does contain a scene in which the player’s character is set alight, agonised loud screams can be heard as she runs, with flames engulfing most of her body. She eventually falls to the ground; her skin is charred and she dies. The game also contains use of the word "*!@?*". The central character suffers from psychosis which is manifest as hallucinations (visions and flashbacks) and delusions. She hears voices all the time in her head. Schizophrenia is also a symptom.

Rated for younger players in Australia. Rated Mature Accompanied (MA 15+) for Violence, Strong Themes.

Skill Level

15+ year-olds usually have the required skill to enjoy this game. Still, it's important for parents and guardians to consider the maturity required to process the game content. Although you can play this game at a younger age, to appreciate the themes and cope with the unsettling psychosis some maturity is important.

CostsCosts

Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice usually costs £24.99.
 

Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice

XBox Store Xbox One £24.99
PlayStation Store PS4 £24.99
Steam Store PC £24.99
Switch Store Switch £24.99
There are no additional in-game purchases, loot boxes, adverts or subscription costs.

DetailsGame Details

Release Date: 08/08/2017, updated in 2018

Out Now: PC, PS4 and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 15+ year-olds

Players: 1

Genres: Action, Adventure (Fighting and Narrative)

Accessibility: 21 features

Components: 3D Third-Person

Developer: Ninja Theory (@NinjaTheory)


Taming Gaming Book Written by parents for parents, the database complements the in-depth discussion about video game addiction, violence, spending and online safety in the Taming Gaming book. We are an editorially independent, free resource without adverts that is supported by partnerships.

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