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Ninja Theory's Hellblade: Delicately Hacking Inner Demons

A Celtic warrior fighting monsters with her sword is what I’d expect in the E3 trailer for Ninja Theory’s Hellblade [official site] and yup, it sure has those. A little more surprising is an accompanying video about the character’s struggles with psychosis, depression, anxiety, and hallucinations, with a professor University of Cambridge talking about his work consulting on the game. Huh! So sure, it is about slaying monsters, but it seems they’re trying to sensitively handle a terrible illness. While still getting to slay monsters, obvs.

Hellblade’s an action-adventure dealio starring Senua, a warrior who Ninja Theory say is “left traumatised by a Viking invasion” and descends into psychosis, her mental illness manifesting as a grand quest with fighty bits.

Hacking your inner demons into bloody pieces is a hardly a new idea for video games, but Ninja Theory sound like they’re trying to treat it with more sensitivity than is customary. They’re working with a psychiatrist who’s professor of health and neuroscience at the University of Cambridge, they’re receiving support from the Wellcome Trust, and say they’re “arranging to consult with people who have experience of mental health difficulties”.

Hellblade doesn’t have the full might of the DmC and Enslaved: Odyssey to the West studio behind it, with only a small team of 15 people working on it. Smaller, cheaper games let them be a little more creative while still benefiting from the studio’s AAA background and resources, they say.

Hellblade’s slated to launch in 2016. Here’s that there video game trailer:

And voila, your dev diary:

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Alice O'Connor

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When not writing news, Alice may be found in the sea.

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