Finished Hellblade 2 and Ready for a Third

When I played the first few hours of Hellblade 2, the visuals and sound were jaw dropping. I’m glad that impression kept up through the rest of the game. What surprised me was the story in good and bad ways. I knew weird psychosis driven visuals were part of the deal, but I liked some more reality based elements.

I had a bit of disappointment with the ending in the moment, but the questions it had me ask later shifted that feeling. Those questions demand a third game to see what was real vs not and where Senua goes next.

Voices Inside and Outside Senua’s Head

Senua follows her companions to the leader

During the first game, the only company Senua had was the voices in her head and the ghosts of her memories. I was happy that in Hellblade 2, there are some actual flesh and blood companions. At least that’s what the game makes you think. By the end of the game I wasn’t sure what was real.

Regardless of whether those companions turn out to be real, it felt like a step up to have them along for the journey. Their banter was a nice reprieve from the crazy voices in Senua’s head. They all supposedly are aware of the threat from the giants, but Hellblade games really make me question everything.

I guess that’s the point. A good deal of Hellblade 2 appears a bit more grounded in reality, with a more obvious contrast with the more psychological battles and puzzles. Still, Senua is crazy, so the mind bending puzzles could be partly in her head, or all the way.

Things get crazy when the Hiddenfolk show up, or rather let their voices be heard. Honestly my head hurts at this point where I don’t know if they were real, were the ones showing Senua crazy things, or a bit of both. That is also the case with the giants.

What was real and what was just twisted by Senua’s psychosis?

Hellblade 2 Starts Grounded in Reality and Blends with Fantasy

Senua enjoying the scenery in Hellblade 2

At the very start of Hellblade 2, the story revolves around the Northmen slavers that sacked Senua’s village. They killed her love in the first game and now she wants revenge. She didn’t just want to kill them all, but go right to the heart of them (their leader).

Her journey takes quite the turn when a Draugr cult unleashes the wrath of a giant. That twist turns enemies into uneasy allies. Senua’s quest for vengeance turns into a path of redemption as she turns toward the threat the giants represent and works with a slaver.

To be clear and not a huge spoiler, there’s no traditional boss fight with the giants. It’s a much more environmental and psychological battle. In my playthrough, I battled tornados, tsunami-like waves and volcanic eruptions on my way to the root of the giant’s psyche.

Seem weird? Well this is a Hellblade game, so it is. The visuals and sound sync so well with the scenes that it was a welcome change for me. I was not disappointed that I wasn’t hacking and slashing or having to deal with dozens of rolls or perfect blocks.

A more narrative adventure is perfectly fine for a game, especially when it’s not every game.

Hellblade 2 Leaves me with More Questions Than Answers

Senua emerging from a cave into the sunlight

Besides the whole giants angle, I liked how Hellblade 2 felt more reality based. The excellent graphics and sound really helped enhance that feeling. Like Senua’s voices though, I felt like the game took me farther down the rabbit hole on the way to the finish.

Senua’s psychosis induced puzzles returned, but the giants were a pretty interesting turn. Once the game introduced the Hiddenfolk, things took an even more mind bending turn. By the end though, the big bad really threw me off.

When the game explained what the final boss did, I still questioned exactly what he did and how. The explanation sentences I understood, but the interpretation of that could mean a lot of different things. Like the word create, alone, could mean manifested OR made up (like faked).

Was he even real? Probably, but what about the giants? Hiddenfolk? Yes, no, sort of maybe, are all possible answers. More importantly, what path Senua takes at the end is left open. Does she embrace the rage of her father or lover of her mother or both?

I loved the game, but that last few minutes annoyed me at the time. I think I understand why some rated the game lower, possibly knocking a few points off right at the end. Now though, all those questions and “Huh?” moments really make me want to play the next Hellblade game.

If you have not played yet, it took me 7ish hours and I highly recommend you join me down the Hellblade 2 rabbit hole. I purposely kept my questions vague to avoid spoilers, but anyone who finished will know exactly what I’m talking about.

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