Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 Review

A lot is riding on Xbox Studio’s and Ninja Theory’s Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2. Development started six years ago and was one of the first titles announced for the Xbox Series of consoles when it was first announced at The Game Awards. Since then, it has promised realistic graphics along with current edge sound design focused around Senua’s psychosis, which was first introduced in Senua’s Sacrifice back in 2017. Not to mention, this is Xbox’s first first-party game to hit the market this year, and many have been looking forward to the next iteration of the series, myself included.

So, with all that out of the way, headphones are a must for this game. The developers over at Ninja Theory have asked that you please wear headphones due to the audio team’s incredibly crafted auditory experience created to immerse you in Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2’s reality. I did put this to the test while playing through the game. I mainly use the Xbox Wireless headphones for my gaming sessions which are Dolby Atmos compatible. Not the best on the market, but it’s what I can afford. Then, for my sound speakers, I have a Samsung Soundbar, which also outputs Dolby Atmos, and while the soundbar’s sounds are incredible, playing Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 on these was night and day for the overall experience of the game—from the subtle sounds throughout the lands hinting at secret areas to the constant conversations going on in Senua’s mind.

The game begins with Senua being captured by the Norsemen, who hope to take her back to their homeland. Her goal is to avenge her beloved, whose soul she attempted to save in the original title, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, and to prevent the Norsemen from ever enslaving her people again. But all is not as it seems in 10th century Iceland as a storm appears from nowhere with all the slaver’s boats crashing. You are thrown into the gritty and rainy land with the voices in your head pushing you to continue your path of vengeance but, at the same time, having those doubts that you will be able to survive.

With Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 now in full effect, it throws you into the action, desperately searching for survivors it is here that the game gives you a small tutorial on the traversal and combat of the game. Only being able to locate slavers, combat is brutal, and the hack-and-slash mechanics of the game feel like they carry weight to it, every strike and block resonates, making you feel each connection with your enemies. Combined with the voices constantly either encouraging you or doubting you throughout combat. It’s an experience.

It is only once you come into contact with the first ‘boss’ battle of Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 that you fully comprehend how combat will work throughout the rest of the game. You can’t simply swing away and defeat a foe with speed and striking alone. You will be required to study their moves, time your parries, and learn when to dodge. It’s almost like a dance, and I will admit, coming off a game such as Stellar Blade, which I have been playing over the past few weeks, it took some time to get used to the combat of Hellblade 2. Once you have defeated the Viking leader, they will become your companion, leading Senua to their village where she can exact her revenge and put a stop to the raids.

It is now in the quiet travelling times of the game that you start to appreciate the work that Ninja Theory put into the environments you will be experiencing in your time with Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2. The vistas, the paths, everything in this game running on the Unreal Engine 5 is STUNNING. The amount of screen captures on my Xbox Series X that I took of this game could fill a book. The variations of all the areas just continued to amaze me at each turn I took. If this is what this generation of consoles is capable of, I love what im seeing. The only drawback that I didn’t like was the cinematic black bars they put on the top and bottom of the screen. I’m not sure if this was done to make the game run as smoothly as it did or if it was just there to make it look like are playing a movie. But believe me, there are many times when the lines between a game and a movie are blurred.

It is when you encounter the first village, one of many you will experience throughout the journey, that you are introduced to the game’s puzzle mechanics, which vary between locating Norse symbols to unlock doors and environmental puzzles. I would say there are five to six puzzle types in Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 if you include fighting as a puzzle to be mastered. The totems from the original game make a return and by locating them, you unlock more stories and explanations of the world. There are as I said, more puzzles, but I won’t spoil these. Puzzles will serve as a main part of the game when you are not fighting. You can go times of up to 30 minutes of not encountering a sword fight and just be content with the environmental puzzles presented.

That’s what I loved about Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2. There was no game padding in the entire experience. The story was clear and concise, and while I will admit there are times when walking from areas could take some time, there was never a moment where there wasn’t something to admire from the game’s visuals or a conversation between travelling partners or the voices in your head. In this installment, you’ll uncover the reasons why the Norsemen are capturing so many prisoners from foreign lands. The discoveries intertwine with Senua and another local tribe who believe in a different path, adding depth to the desperate and emotional narrative that Ninja Theory masterfully unfolds throughout the campaign.

I must say that while the combat feels and plays superbly, especially with multiple opponents adding to the tension and stakes, the animations can become somewhat repetitive. The straightforward four-button battle system, featuring quick and heavy attacks, parry, and dodge, is easy to learn yet challenging to master. However, the moves generally look the same with little variation, except when you are focused and can unleash a flurry of attacks to take down your opponent. This is also the case for the puzzles, while they can put you to the test trying to find the environmental answers, they generally all play out the same way.

Senua believes herself to be cursed throughout the first Hellblade game and the majority of this saga. The story told in this game is about freeing herself of the stigma of her psychosis, showing that she can exist in the world and that there are some things worth fighting for, along with some things that require forgiveness. While you don’t need to have played and completed the first Hellblade game, it will give you a clear picture of the overall character arch that is a tale worth telling. Especially for those who deal with mental illness.



Senua’s return is authentic to the original, only with more polish. The captivating and emotional story is thrusted forward with Hellblade 2’s hefty visuals and audio. The only thing letting it down is how repetitive some of the gameplay is.


  • A masterclass in storytelling

  • Everything about this game oozes AAA-quality design

  • No game padding to make the game last longer. It has a clear and concise story to tell

  • The performances from everyone in the game are done as well as a Hollywood blockbuster

  • Combat feels great

  • The variations between the real world and Senua’s mind are amazing


  • Combat animations and puzzles are not varied enough
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