Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, a new PS4 action game from Ninja Theory, releases this week, and, until reviews started to hit, it didn’t seem to be doing all that much that could be considered truly interesting. Although it presents an interesting tale about issues surrounding psychosis, it just seemed like a rather run of the mill action game. However, that no longer seems to be the case, thanks to the unique form of perma-death system that the game contains. (Possible Spoilers ahead).
During the course of the game, a system is introduced wherein a growth on the player character’s arm increases in size and length every time the player dies. If this growth eventually reaches a certain point, the player dies. Permanently. No reloading to the last save point; no reloading to the beginning of the level. It’s over, and if you still want to finish the game, you are going to have to start all the way at the beginning.
Perma-death is a feature that is appearing in more and more titles as of late, with it being largely popularised by rogue-like titles, but this might be the first time that a game of this scale has included the system, particularly in this interesting manner. With so many good games coming out this year, new ones need to do things to make themselves stand out, and this is exactly the kind of thing that will do that, and get Hellblade some attention from players. Time will tell if the gamble pays off.
Hot Take: This is a weird system, and is difficult to judge. On the one hand, the idea behind it is so utterly bizarre and unique that I almost have to applaud it for doing something different when so many others refuse to shy away from norms. Everybody is always saying how they want games to do something new and inventive, and this is very much that. However, I can understand whhy