Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice swept the BAFTA game awards

hellblade

The 14th British Academy Games Awards were handed out this week and, while the awards themselves may be a bit disconnected from where the rest of us in Games Proper see the industry, they are a good measurement of how The Establishment sees interactive entertainment at this point. To that end, it is both shocking and a bit exciting to see the awards highlight a game that was overwhelmingly overlooked this year, and which deserved more celebration than it has received to this point. I’m speaking about Ninja Theory’s dark adventure fantasy game Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, and its five BAFTA wins: Artistic Achievement, Audio Achievement, British Game, Games Beyond Entertainment and Melina Juergens took the Performance category for her role as Senua.

Hell: Sen Sac (the appropriate acronym, I believe) was a title that I never saw advertised in the US outside of a third party Facebook video feature on a cool upcoming game that was flying under everyone’s radars. And then it flew under everyone’s radars. Which is a shame because everything I read about He:SeSa makes me respect it more. Psychologists and neuroscientists were brought in to advise and ensure its portrayal of mental illness was accurate, which allowed the development team and story department to tackle mental suffering in an innovative format.

H:SS was nominated in nine categories and is the first ever winner for the category Games Beyond Entertainment, which celebrates new releases with a political or social message. I don’t love everything about the BAFTA presentations, but that’s an exciting category added at an important time, and I’m anxious to see who gets nominated moving forward.

What Remains of Edith Finch, the second game from Giant Sparrow Studios, won Best Game. Nintendo won three categories, including Super Mario Odyssey for Game Design and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild for Game Innovation. Elsewhere, hand-drawn story puzzle game Gorogoa won Best Debut Game. Blizzard’s Overwatch won the Evolving Game category while Golf Clash took Mobile Game. RPG Divinity: Original Sin 2 won for Multiplayer title. Cuphead won Music. Night in the Woods won the Bafta for Narrative. And Guerrilla Games’ action role-playing game Horizon Zero Dawn won for Original Property.

So that’s what the BAFTAs saw games as this year. I’m delighted to use this push to finally check out Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, which is a weird push I didn’t see coming from the BAFTA awards. Also, kudos to the Edith team and Gorgoa is hella worth your time. (Yes, people still use “hella” outside of Life Is Strange. I am one of them. I am the problem.)

If you’re interested in giving Hellblade a spin, it is currently 10% off on the ole Steam store. Perhaps with this win, Ninja Theory can finally do the Enslaved: Odyssey to the West sequel that I and I only want to see made manifest.

Finally, in wrapping up BAFTA coverage, here’s Tim Schafer’s BAFTA lifetime achievement award speechwords in full. I think this is very much worth your four minutes.

37 Comments

  1. Mister eX says:

    Hell yeah!

    • ogopogo says:

      I know, right!?! Edith Finch for the win is such a coup. Most other winnars are about what you’d expect, though Divinity 2 for best multiplayer is also a really inspired choice! I’m so charmed to see that win, it’s a both a clever and arguably accurate call, very smart.

      So both BAGA (BAFTA, whatever) and the Oscars gave us some excellent winners this year. If you digest Divinity 2 –> Get Out –> Edith Finch –> Shape of Water inside of one year then you’ve experienced four outstanding works of art (?) just by visiting the most obvious titles mentioned in the press, and that’s pretty, pret-ty good. Kudos to the high-hats of 2018 I guess.

  2. DanMan says:

    Still waiting for a HDR patch on PC. The consoles already got it.

    • brucethemoose says:

      ReShade can dither everything to 10 bits, apply a lookup table for color correction and give you some contrast with the HDR shader.

      It’s far from ideal, assuming you can even force your display into HDR mode in the first place, but it should still help.

  3. woodsey says:

    I don’t think it really flew under the radar. It sold pretty well from what I heard.

    Good for them, anyway. Best use of headphones in a game ever.

    Also, as someone who very much likes games that do socio-political commentary, a best socio-political commentary award is stupid. If the game’s not good enough to be nominated for best game then surely you’re just rewarding the idea.

  4. Winged Nazgul says:

    Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice was GOTY for me so the only part that I’m surprised about was that it was finally recognized as the achievement that it was.

  5. anHorse says:

    Shame it’s absolutely naff at the actual game bits

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      Naff or Baff?

    • mmandthetat says:

      Oh no! Are people still out there enjoying a genre of immersive/experiential/narrative games that is perfectly valid and has been around forever at this point?

      This looks like a job for Actual Game Man!

      “Only combat is real gameplay” he says!

      And just like that, everyone stopped wanting to explore otherworldly stories, and went back to games about driving cars and shooting things.

      Thanks, Actual Game Man!

      • Kolbex says:

        It would actually be better if they removed the rubbish combat and just let it be a walking simulator, aka slightly interactive movie.

        • ACE454 says:

          Oh please, the combat was fine. Been reading this site for over half a decade and I still don’t understand why everyone is so uppity on this site. Oh wait, everything is flawed…

  6. KidWithKnife says:

    I never thought of Hellblade as flying under the radar here, I saw quite a lot of talk about it. Granted, I don’t pay a lot of attention to TV ads and that sort of thing. Regardless though, it’s pretty great to hear it’s been recognized like this, it really is an excellent game.

  7. Ryos says:

    Maybe it was overlooked because it’s not very good.

    • durrbluh says:

      That was my impression of it. A game that explores mental illness is interesting, but when it’s slapped over boring, repetitive game design, it gets exactly as much attention as it deserves. They’d have been better off sinking that development cash into making a movie based on the premise.

      • DefinitelyNotHans says:

        Typical ninja theory game. All about graphics and flashiness and then drop in some halfassed single button mashing combat at the last minute and call it a game.

    • geisler says:

      This wasn’t overlooked lol, no matter how much the press seems to like painting it as an underdog. It sold 500.000 copies in 3 months after release, which by now has probably inched close to a million (google/steamspy it).

      This game kind of got the indie treatment form the press because it was made on a smaller budget and the game’s development was kind of used as a concept for “lower budget independent AA-game with high production values using efficient design methods”. There’s a documentary style series on it made by Ninja Theory themselves on YT if you’re interested.

      Of course it’s also special because it highlights mental illness, and the protagonist is female. But i agree that on the whole it wasn’t really all that good. Very bland gameplay featuring shallow combat and boring puzzles. Nice game if you like the subject matter and lean closer to walking simulators or “experiences” light on gameplay.

  8. Kefren says:

    I’m looking forward to playing Hellblade – it interested me right from the start. Edith Finch, on the other hand … I bought it because of all the praise, yet I never want to load it up. I love Gone Home, and Tacoma, and Amnesia AMFP, but Edith Finch is a game I really struggle to even play, due to lots of irritations with it. I hope it will end soon, otherwise I may just uninstall it.

  9. DefinitelyNotHans says:

    Was that supposed to be a joke? This was one of the most talked about and heavily promoted games of last year. People still haven’t shut up about it.

  10. geisler says:

    Schafer is old enough to win lifetime achievement awards now? Good god i’m old.

    • Kolbex says:

      Maeby: I’m actually getting the Lifetime Achievement Opie tonight.

      Mort Meyers: I’m very sorry.

      Maeby: Ha, yeah.

      Mort Meyers: No, they only give that award away to somebody after they die, or, even worse, after your career is dead.

  11. SaintAn says:

    “Blizzard’s Overwatch won the Evolving Game category ”

    What? That’s disgusting. Is Blizzard a donor or were the voters just clueless?

    And I will never play Hellblade. The developer wanted to ruin Heavenly Sword’s perfect ending by making a sequel, but luckily Sony didn’t want a sequel and so they made this as a spiritual sequel that is unrelated to that masterpiece. I have a strong hatred for creators that ruin their masterpieces because they got greedy.

  12. GomezTheChimp says:

    I didn`t get very far with this; I found the puzzly bits so annoying and disrupting that I gave up. Still, it looked and sounded nice though.

  13. Gothnak says:

    Do people outside the industry know that you have to pay to be nominated for a BAFTA?

    And yes, I have worked on games that have won. (No, I’ve never been to the event)

    If you don’t book a table, you can’t have a nomination, it’s all very weird.

  14. welverin says:

    “(Yes, people still use “hella” outside of Life Is Strange. I am one of them. I am the problem.)”

    I’ll agree with that. Also, stop it.

    “Perhaps with this win, Ninja Theory can finally do the Enslaved: Odyssey to the West sequel that I and I only want to see made manifest.”

    I disagree with this, because I would like to a sequel to that as well.

    • April March says:

      I want that game too. I hella want it.

    • Jernau Gurgeh says:

      +1 for more Monkey & Trip. Hella yeah! One of my favourite ever games and completely underrated and overlooked and the only game to feature Andy Serkis looking like Sean Pertwee spent too long at the gym working on his upper body strength. Also, needs some fish-based Sandy expansion to complement the Pigsy DLC.

  15. Jernau Gurgeh says:

    KEEP UR POLITICS OUT OF MUH VIDYA GAMES, SOCIAL JUSTICE WARRIORS!

    Or something similar that will no doubt be uttered in Steam discussion forums regarding this news, with added references to c*cks, f*gg*ts, libt*rds and ni**ers.

    • RPSJW says:

      Totally. They need to be educated via virtual entertainment. Whether they like it or not. But, alas, the alt-Reich will impose their need for video games to stay entertainment, instead of prime opportunities to make other people agree with our logic, which is the correct logic.
      They will see the way.

    • dskzero says:

      What the hell are you talking about

  16. nottorp says:

    Isn’t this the game that will delete your save file if you die too many times? I stopped paying attention about there.

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      That was a fakeout – the game doesn’t really do that. A strange move, but kind of interesting. I wonder if those who played fearing permadeath had a better time than those who knew?

  17. dskzero says:

    I really hope you are joking because otherwise it only flew under your own radar. It was hyped and constantly discussed everywhere on the net.

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