Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice — I Still Don’t Get Today’s Games

Jeffrey McGee
4 min readJul 25, 2022


A game about Celtic mythology and… mental illnesses?

Usually, this is the part where I talk about how awesome it is to get free games. Well, not this time ’cause I haven’t played any cool games recently. Instead, I want to bring up an experience that, once again, baffles me as to what people consider “games” these days. It’s not terrible, but I didn’t enjoy it too much, but I suppose everyone else did. And yes, it’s Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice.

Now, I get it that this game is supposed to be an allegory about mental illnesses, which is already a sensitive subject. Still, the game seems to emphasise narrative over gameplay, which I argued in previous articles that it is the most important quality in a video game’s fun factor. Still, the game’s story feels so pushed into the narrative that it sacrifices gameplay. What I played through felt like a casual platformer with boss fights every here and now. Of course, I emphasise the gameplay and games that don’t feel satisfying can’t sustain me. But that’s just me. The story was also weird because it was themed around mental illnesses, and I didn’t feel comfortable with it. That and I eventually got bored because the gameplay repeated itself.

Of course, by no means was the game bad; the story was told very well, and the narrative was delivered effectively, but I’m just not the kind of gamer who wants to play interactive books. So… what do people consider games today?

What’s an “art game”?

I’m not saying that the game was terrible by any means, as the game was very well received by many. But when you consider what a game is… what is a game today? People have taken it in so many directions, but the game that I consider the one true art game is Shadow of the Colossus, and I totally enjoyed that one. But I was young and impressionable, unlike today, so that’s also a factor.

As for me, I wanted to enjoy Hellblade, but it wasn’t really for me, with the constant walking and the manly voice who talks to you about Celtic mythology. The boss fights were nice but nothing spectacular and I felt the same mechanics repeating as I continued to progress through the game. I don’t know how the game ended because I never got to the end.

I get it that games today can go in multiple directions thanks to how open-ended the medium is, but I still think that games should focus the most on gameplay, at least, that’s how I play. Frankly, I don’t think I can say too much on this subject since I already expressed it several times in the past and that I perceive this game as something that just took the narrative a step too far, and again that’s just me — and I’m looking for something special. I didn’t find it in this game, and because I’m not one to talk about a game that didn’t mean much to me. For that reason:

What do you say about narratives in video games?

I would really like to hear other thoughts on what “art games” are and where they come from. I need to hear the opinion of someone who actually cares about the experience that the game offers and not someone who takes it lightheartedly. If you have something to add to this game that I may have missed, feel free to say it because I could definitely use a different perspective on what more makes a game beyond gameplay.

In Conclusion…

I’m keeping this article short, like the recent articles but shorter than usual, mainly because I need to give time to my main focus right now, which is sure to knock people off their seats (at least I hope it will), and that’s Ocean of Giants. I have great hopes for it.

But right now, that’s not the focus of this article, but I can’t help but mention it. I’ll be frank, today’s subject didn’t really interest me, and I should’ve focused more on talking about more relevant projects and mainly told everyone how everything was going with this project. Maybe the next article will be another entry in the developer’s blog of Ocean of Giants… no promises, though.

Anyway, sorry for straying away with today’s article. I thought I had something interesting, but it didn’t even interest me. I hope time I can put more emphasis on something that actually catches my eye. I know that I went off the rails pretty much today and really hope next time will be better… talking about something that actually interests me.