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precision
May 7, 2006

Gonna have me some good friends around
Gonna have me some good times in town




HELLBLADE: Senua's Sacrifice is the new game by Ninja Theory, known for making the best worst Devil May Cry game, the pretty good Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, and the tech demo Heavenly Sword.

Gameplay is HUD-less, there's no map button, no prompts come up to tell you when you can interact with something. It's an Experience, taking about 8 hours-ish, mixing exploration, light puzzle solving (that is often very, very clever), and a deceptively simple combat system with its main draw: the story.

You are Senua, a mentally ill woman rowing your boat down a river to the Norse version of Hell. To say any more at all would be spoilers.

It's only $30 and I would have been happy if I'd paid twice that. It has quickly leaped into my top 5 games of the year, which is crazy when you consider what's come out this year.

I was going to link a trailer here, there are several of them out there but they all contain what I would consider to be significant spoilers, in the sense that you're gonna want to see that poo poo yourself.

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Snak
Oct 10, 2005

I myself will carry you to the Gates of Valhalla...
You will ride eternal,
shiny and chrome.


Grimey Drawer

I've started my second playthrough today. You cannot skip or speed up cutscenes at all. Which is understandable, but it's going to reduce replay value for a lot of people.

Runestone progress is carried over, which I don't personally like, but I'll probably just delete may save data before my next playthrough so I can start that checklist clean.

I've fixed the difficulty to normal, instead of auto, because one of my goals this playthrough is to figure out some of the combos I saw come up by accident in my first playthrough.

Non-spoiler lore observations from the early game:

Senua is a Pict journeying into the Norse Underworld. The belief that "The head is the seat of the soul" is a Celtic one, not a Norse one, so right of the bat they establish a clash of cultures/religions. Or rather, how in the ancient world, you were less likely to believe that the religion of your enemies is false, and more likely to believe their gods are inferior.

From my limited knowledge and post-playthrough Wikipedia diving, it seems like the Norse mythology relayed via the audio logs is quite accurate. There are some minor changes but I don't know of anything they've gotten straight wrong.

Doorknob Slobber
Sep 10, 2006

by Nyc_Tattoo
]


wear headphones use controller

Snak
Oct 10, 2005

I myself will carry you to the Gates of Valhalla...
You will ride eternal,
shiny and chrome.


Grimey Drawer

Doorknob Slobber posted:

wear headphones use controller

Oh yeah. Both things.

precision
May 7, 2006

Gonna have me some good friends around
Gonna have me some good times in town




I didn't use headphones on my first playthrough and it makes a WORLD of difference. The Voices say SO MUCH.

I'm kinda interested in the attack/combo system too, I can't really figure out how to do some things. Like, you can do a quick forward-stab somehow but hell if I know how.

Also, one thing that was a major roadblock for me: remember there is a "melee" button.

Also, there's a choice early in the game. You have to do two areas, basically. The Green one has harder puzzles and no combat and is the much harder boss. The Red one has easy puzzles and an easy boss.

Snak
Oct 10, 2005

I myself will carry you to the Gates of Valhalla...
You will ride eternal,
shiny and chrome.


Grimey Drawer

And yet the blue one is chronologically first in terms of audio logs.

I'm 90% sure Ive figured out the combo where she turns around and stabs into someone, and it's heavy->heavy->light->light->light. I'm not actually sure the last light is required, I think it may trigger automatically.

Edit: Relravn puzzle spoilers you don't have to remove any of the ravens, the ones you need are there from the beginning. but I'm pretty sure I screwed myself out of a runstone I was missing by doing that, since after killing Velravn, the gates stop working.

Edit again: oh, the gates do still work. Gotta go find those 2 runestones...

Snak fucked around with this message at 03:52 on Aug 10, 2017

precision
May 7, 2006

Gonna have me some good friends around
Gonna have me some good times in town




I hope they patch in a free mode that's just "boss rush/waves of enemies". It seems really weird that beating the game doesn't unlock some kind of thing like that, the combat has so much care put into it for what is basically a game that nobody would love for the combat alone.

I keep comparing this game to Silent Hill 2 in my head, where it's something where you get to see a crazy world, real madness, and unravel a pretty good story, with gameplay that is not objectively mindblowing on its own (SH2's combat is downright bad, but its exploration/puzzles are pretty decent). With this game though, the only reason I would hesitate to recommend it solely on the strength of gameplay is that there isn't a whole lot of it. I would play a whole spinoff game using this engine with less story but a ton of puzzles and combat.

Snak
Oct 10, 2005

I myself will carry you to the Gates of Valhalla...
You will ride eternal,
shiny and chrome.


Grimey Drawer

I keep thinking about Silent Hill 2 also, in terms of trying to get across how much of the game exists just to deliver story.

edit: Here are the combos I have discovered so far:
editing again to just cover everything I know about combat.

Basic Moves

Fast Strike
Senua performs a quick, low damage, slash with her sword. Mostly Fast Strikes are horizontal.

Heavy Strike
Senua performs a much slower, higher damage slash with her sword. Most Heavy Strikes are vertical.

Melee
Senua performs a side kick. Melee strikes are lower damage, but are more effective at breaking the enemies guard. Especially useful against shielded enemies.

Running Moves
These are performed instead of the basic moves any time the run button is depressed while the attack button is pressed. This means that they can be executed from a standstill by pressing both buttons at the same time, and will be executed automatically if an attack button is pressed while Senua is running.

Run + Fast
Achilles thrust from the movie Troy. Senua performs a leaping thrust.

Run + Heavy
Vertical Spinning Slash. Senua performs a jumping vertical heavy slash. You can knock fools out of the air with this. Smaller ones, anyway.

Run + Melee
Jump Knee Strike. Senua jumps and strikes the enemy in the torso with her knee. It's really badass.

Parrying
By timing her block with the impact of an enemy's attack, Senua can parry the enemy and leave them open to a counter attack. I am reasonably certain that there two types of parries: normal parries, and perfect parries. The window for a normal parry is much larger than for a perfect parry. A perfect parry can also parry an attack that would normally break Senua's guard or knock her down.

Counter Attacks

Parry -> Fast -> Fast
Senua performs a slash, followed by a spinning jump slash, similar to her Run + Heavy attack.

Parry -> Heavy
Senua performs a heavy, overhead slash.

Parry -> Melee
Senua performs a pommel strike, hitting the enemy in the face and stunning them momentarily.

Combos
These are the combos that I have discovered so far.

Fast -> Fast -> Fast -> Fast
Basic Fast Strike Combo. On normal difficulty, this results in a guard break on the initial swordsman type enemy

Heavy -> Heavy (-> ??)
Basic Heavy Strike Combo. Enemies keep dying so I haven't had a chance to test past the first two hits of this. These two hit guard break on basic swordsman (normal difficulty)

Fast -> Fast -> Heavy -> Heavy
Senua transitions into two heavy strikes that are not the same as the initial strikes of the Heavy Strike Combo

Heavy -> Heavy -> Fast -> Fast -> Fast
Impalement combo. For the final fast strike, Senua spins around and stabs he blade into the enemy. There is a brief pause before she pulls it out.

Fast -> Fast -> Melee / Heavy -> Heavy -> Melee
Punch combo. Instead of a kick, Senua performs a left hook for the melee strike. I am not sure if it works with other combinations of two moves.

MID GAME SPOILERS MOVES:

Once you get the sword Gramr, additional moves are unlocked

Hold Heavy
Charge Gramr. After holding the heavy strike button for a short time, Gramr will begin to glow a bright blueish-white. Releasing the heavy strike button will perform a charges heavy strike for massive additional damage. I am unsure what determines whether the charge immediately dissipates or stays on. It's also possible to maintain the charge to perform multiple fast strikes without the charge dissipating. I'm not to this point in my second playthrough, so I haven't been able to do more testing.

Left Stick + Hold Heavy
When Gramr is charged, you have the ability to Conan Spin left and right. This is an i-frame dodge and makes you almost completely invincible until you unleash Gramr's charge.

I'm also reasonably sure you can super-parry when Gramr is charged, but it may just be that a perfect parry looks way more exciting when your blade is bright white.

Snak fucked around with this message at 05:07 on Aug 10, 2017

exquisite tea
Apr 21, 2007

Carly shook her glass, willing the ice to melt. "You still haven't told me what the mission is."

She leaned forward. "We are going to assassinate the bad men of Hollywood."




I just finished the game and it's quite beautiful how it all came together. I do think the whole permadeath thing was a bluff, but based on how the game resolves in its final moments, I think that was totally intentional on behalf of the developers.

I'm not sure if that's an experience I'd ever want to relive, but it's among the most unique and haunting games I've ever played. I'm glad that a title like Hellblade can exist.

Rookersh
Aug 19, 2010


Can someone actually sell this concept to me better?

Like maybe this is just me, but as someone who likes this type of game, and really likes everything about what I've seen about the aesthetic/presentation, the idea that the story is about getting her dead lover back makes the whole thing fall somewhat flat to me. Because if it's at all grounded in reality, mental illness or no that means I already know how this ends, and it ends with "nah that doesn't work that way.".

exquisite tea
Apr 21, 2007

Carly shook her glass, willing the ice to melt. "You still haven't told me what the mission is."

She leaned forward. "We are going to assassinate the bad men of Hollywood."




Hellblade's plot isn't all that complex, so if you're expecting something with a lot of twists and turns then you'll be disappointed. Senua's journey into Hel to rescue the soul of her dead lover is just the framing device for learning about her character and adopting her own perception of the world. The story really isn't about what happens, but more thematically about feelings of grief, trauma, guilt, and acceptance. It's a very psychological game that concerns itself more with unraveling Senua's past than describing her present.

precision
May 7, 2006

Gonna have me some good friends around
Gonna have me some good times in town




Rookersh posted:

Can someone actually sell this concept to me better?

Like maybe this is just me, but as someone who likes this type of game, and really likes everything about what I've seen about the aesthetic/presentation, the idea that the story is about getting her dead lover back makes the whole thing fall somewhat flat to me. Because if it's at all grounded in reality, mental illness or no that means I already know how this ends, and it ends with "nah that doesn't work that way.".

Well for one thing, within the first couple hours, you figure out that's not what the story is about at all. Like, it's nominally what she's doing, but you quickly learn a lot more about Senua and what she's "about".

K8.0
Feb 26, 2004

Her Majesty's 56th Regiment of Foot

Hellblade is pretty much an interactive movie. Normally I despise those sort of games, but this game isn't pretending to be anything else, and unlike most of them it integrates a lot of things so well that it has genuine excuses for being not all that mechanically deep. You already know how the story will end in almost every movie, but the good ones are still worth watching because the experience as a whole is good. Hellblade does a good job of that and that's why I think it's going to be the sleeper hit of 2017.

exquisite tea
Apr 21, 2007

Carly shook her glass, willing the ice to melt. "You still haven't told me what the mission is."

She leaned forward. "We are going to assassinate the bad men of Hollywood."




Keeping the game mechanically simple was I think a really smart design choice that contributes to the immersion of the experience. A skill tree where you level up and unlock Psycho Slash at Tier 3 would cheapen the storytelling and at worst stand in poor taste given the subject matter. Part of what makes Hellblade so unique is the constant subjectivity of Sensua's own perspective, and the appearance of any gamified conceits like a HUD or minimap would remove us from that uncertainty.

Snak
Oct 10, 2005

I myself will carry you to the Gates of Valhalla...
You will ride eternal,
shiny and chrome.


Grimey Drawer

edit: ^ agreed.

Why are people so bad at this game? Or games in general. There's only like 5 buttons in this game, and two people on reddit looked at my guide and admitted they played the entire game without knowing there was a melee button. THERE'S ONLY 7 BUTTONS

Speaking of reddit, someone discovered that the Rune Stones you find and the rune circle they form actuall spells something, and they translated it. Spoilers, obviously.

precision
May 7, 2006

Gonna have me some good friends around
Gonna have me some good times in town




Without headphones it's easy to never figure out you can Focus in combat

Snak
Oct 10, 2005

I myself will carry you to the Gates of Valhalla...
You will ride eternal,
shiny and chrome.


Grimey Drawer

I feel like letting you chose whether to fight Valravn or Surt first was a later choice. The order of the rune stones and the cutscene explaining the usage of the mirror both point to Valravn being the first one you should do. But since Surt is the much easier path and the game is pretty linear, it feels like they added the choice to do them "out of order".

And it's a good choice, but it's real weird if you do Valravn second and there's a cutscene that explains the use of the mirror in combat when you already used it against Surt.

exquisite tea
Apr 21, 2007

Carly shook her glass, willing the ice to melt. "You still haven't told me what the mission is."

She leaned forward. "We are going to assassinate the bad men of Hollywood."




The other thing is that Druth features pretty heavily in the Surt path and he more or less sets Senua off on her way after you kill the first two bosses, so doing Surt second seems like a more natural conclusion to his arc. Valravn's zone has a lot more to say about Senua's exile in the woods before she met Druth, but the puzzles there are quite a bit more complex.

Snak
Oct 10, 2005

I myself will carry you to the Gates of Valhalla...
You will ride eternal,
shiny and chrome.


Grimey Drawer

Yeah, I think the difficulty is probably the main factor in why they let you do it the other way. I actually liked hearing Druth's narrative in the reverse order, though.

Genocyber
Jun 4, 2012



I did Surt's area first and felt it worked out well enough narratively. If only because at that point I still wasn't fully grasping what was going on.

This game was pretty amazing. I beat it in one sitting only taking a break to let my controller recharge, and I've never done that before, not with a video game at least.

The combat gets to be waaaaaaaaaaaaay too much of a slog near the end though. It was thematically-fitting during the bloodlake segment and all, but did the game really need wave after wave of enemies in a bunch of places after that? Especially with most of them being common fodder that weren't especially fun to fight at that point.

Is it possible to "win" the confrontation with Hel? I died relatively quickly thanks to that "you're paralyzed now" earthquake thing but given how the ending progressed I'm thinking it may not have been possible to win? Or that it wouldn't have likely changed much if I did.

Snak
Oct 10, 2005

I myself will carry you to the Gates of Valhalla...
You will ride eternal,
shiny and chrome.


Grimey Drawer

What I kike avout doing Surt first: while listening to Druth's story, you know you're hearing what happened to Druth. Then you go to Valravn's area and Druth says he's going to tell you the story of a man named Findon. as that story unfolds, you learn that Findon is Druth. I thought that made the the whole backstory flow more interesting, and than simply hearing it all in chronological order.

I've seen several different criticisms about the combat, including someone who said the bossfights were just bad gimmicks and all combat should be skippable, since it doesn't improve the story.

I think the combat is important, and also that it's kind of a good thing that it gets a little tiring near the end.

One of the first reactions to to the game's combat I had was that defeating an opponent isn't very satisfying. They fall over and vanish and another one instantly spawns. That's the opposite of showcasing the brutal glory of a badass warrior's kill. But I soon realized that this is on purpose. These regular enemies are phantoms. They aren't real people and victory over each of them isn't a real victory over anything. It is part of an unending struggle to keep going. In contrast to these shallow victories, we do get brutal closure to each boss fight. Each time a boss is beaten, there can be no doubt that Senua has vanquished a demon.

And while I don't think combat being unfun is good game design, I think that's different than it being tiring. Combat is an important aspect of the game experience because it's hoe the game makes the player feel the physically draining aspect of Senua's journey. If combat wasn't a little challenging and if we weren't tired of it by the end of the game, we wouldn't have the same connection to Senau.

Obviously different people are going to feel like they are sick of the combat at different times in the game, and there's nothing that can really be done about that, but I think finding the last few fights tiresome and just wantingnthem to be done is completely thematically appropriate, and, in a game that does a lot to try to push the player out of their emotional comfort zone, perfectly acceptable.

I also think that the combat system has more options that many people are aware of, and nit exploring these options is part of why people are getting sick of the combat so fast. I've seen lits of people say "spamming fast attack is all you need" and it's no wonder they think the combat sucks.

I also think that the auto difficulty option works very poorly, and is probably worsening the experience for many people.

The game's not perfect, but it is amazing. I think it's a great accomplishment for such a small team. It was clearly a passion project for the people involved, and I'm glad it turned out so well.

exquisite tea
Apr 21, 2007

Carly shook her glass, willing the ice to melt. "You still haven't told me what the mission is."

She leaned forward. "We are going to assassinate the bad men of Hollywood."




I was mostly just relieved when the combat was over since I really didn't like seeing Senua in danger. Her pained expressions whenever she gets hit or knocked down were a little too real for me. It's unclear from the story if she's ever encountered actual vikings in battle or if their appearance is just what she imagines them to be. I also thought it was ambiguous if Senua is purely fighting the demons in her own mind, or if she does actually murder a couple viking settlements and their clan leaders along the way.

Snak
Oct 10, 2005

I myself will carry you to the Gates of Valhalla...
You will ride eternal,
shiny and chrome.


Grimey Drawer

What I like about the combat is there were times I got lost in it, playing by sheer instinct and desparation. I think the system fits really well with the emotional tone of the game.

I don't think that Senua fought through any regular Norse villages. I feel like by time the game starts, she's in a mythic land where there are no living humans. It could go either way, though.

Perestroika
Apr 8, 2010



Holy poo poo you guys, this game is so drat good. I ended up trying it more or less on an impulse and went in completely blind, and suddenly I've gone through it all in just two sittings and it's probably my favourite game of the year. I can't remember the last game that committed so thoroughly to telling its story and landed it so well. It is in some ways kind of an interactive movie, but it weaves its gameplay elements in well enough that I'd certainly say that it elevated the experience beyond what just passively watching it might have offered.

As for the combat, most of the time it worked for me. In the blood lake in particular it really sold me on the sheer gruelling attrition of Senua's journey. Getting knocked down again and again only to get back up every single time no matter what really emphasized her unshakeable determination. But after that one, it started to wear a bit. The final long fight on the bridge before meeting Hela in particular felt fairly superfluous, since you get another gauntlet immediately afterwards. Also, the Fenrir fight was pretty terrible all around, that drat thing took about twice as long to kill as it should have. I kind of wish getting Gramr had made more of a difference, because carving through everything in just a couple of hits towards the end made things flow much more smoothly.

Assorted thoughts: The bit about "if the darkness reaches Senua's head it's game over" is almost definitely a bluff. I had it reach her shoulder during the Fenrir fight, die again, and then it just reset down to mid-forearm. Also, somehow I really liked how in the final area, instead of the usual cacophony of voices warning you about attacks from behind, there was just one single, calm voice left.

exquisite tea
Apr 21, 2007

Carly shook her glass, willing the ice to melt. "You still haven't told me what the mission is."

She leaned forward. "We are going to assassinate the bad men of Hollywood."




Perestroika posted:

Assorted thoughts: The bit about "if the darkness reaches Senua's head it's game over" is almost definitely a bluff. I had it reach her shoulder during the Fenrir fight, die again, and then it just reset down to mid-forearm. Also, somehow I really liked how in the final area, instead of the usual cacophony of voices warning you about attacks from behind, there was just one single, calm voice left.

That message is kind of funny in retrospect since from a certain perspective, the darkness does eventually reach Senua's head, and her progress does end there, but it's because she finally learns to let go of fighting her grief and comes to terms with the loss of Dillion. The darkness that once manifested as a painful infection remains on Senua's body but she's now able to co-exist with it, in the same way her psychosis will forever be a part of her (though never the whole). That's what I got out of the ending, anyway.

Snak
Oct 10, 2005

I myself will carry you to the Gates of Valhalla...
You will ride eternal,
shiny and chrome.


Grimey Drawer

Some people are really mad and calling Ninja Theory "outright liars" because of that message, with is presented in game and not technically a lie.

Octatonic
Sep 7, 2010



I really liked this game and it's really impressive to me from an audio design perspective. I'd love to see more binaural recording in video games, and I really appreciate how much love and effort was put into voice direction and soundscape. I would absolutely buy more $30 self- paced interactive movies with this kind of production value, so I hope Senua's Sacrifice turns out to be successful.

Flimf
Sep 3, 2006



I thought it was true that you could lose your save, but it just wasn't as simple as "Dying 50 times in the same fight over and over again?"

regardless people are stupid and this game is amazing.

I played through the whole drat thing in one sitting right when it came out and have not really been able to stop thinking about it since.
Really, really want to play it again, but I just don't think I can do it. It's just way to emotionally heavy for me.

The part at the tree where your are watching Senua through the eyes of Dillion and she tells him she doesn't leave her house much just broke my heart

Also really like the animation when she starts blocking for some reason.

Terra-da-loo!
Apr 6, 2008

Sufficiently kickass.


I've been really happy with this game so far. I'm not very good at it yet, though. I mostly keep dying during the action sequences rather than the combat, or getting weakened in one and dying in the other due to it.

Snak
Oct 10, 2005

I myself will carry you to the Gates of Valhalla...
You will ride eternal,
shiny and chrome.


Grimey Drawer

Octatonic posted:

I really liked this game and it's really impressive to me from an audio design perspective. I'd love to see more binaural recording in video games, and I really appreciate how much love and effort was put into voice direction and soundscape. I would absolutely buy more $30 self- paced interactive movies with this kind of production value, so I hope Senua's Sacrifice turns out to be successful.

Yeah. More $30 interactive movies wouod be great.

veni veni veni
Jun 5, 2005

We've never been into punk. It was too traditional.


E: nm snake answered in the other thread.

veni veni veni fucked around with this message at 23:07 on Aug 10, 2017

exquisite tea
Apr 21, 2007

Carly shook her glass, willing the ice to melt. "You still haven't told me what the mission is."

She leaned forward. "We are going to assassinate the bad men of Hollywood."




veni veni veni posted:

Alright guys I've been running around trying to figure out where to line up the birds in the area with hundreds of them for close to an hour. I'm about 5 minutes away from just deleting this game off my hard drive. Where the hell am I supposed to go? I've found all of the places the raven is standing walked through all of the gates except one that I still can't get to. It's the one on the structure that is to the left if you are facing the gate.

As I recall there's a gate you have to reset back after knocking down one of the bridges. When you walk under one of them they alter the environment, one of them should clear the path to the upper level.

Snak
Oct 10, 2005

I myself will carry you to the Gates of Valhalla...
You will ride eternal,
shiny and chrome.


Grimey Drawer

Those of you who have beaten it: How many faces did you find?

Snak fucked around with this message at 02:02 on Aug 11, 2017

veni veni veni
Jun 5, 2005

We've never been into punk. It was too traditional.


I really hope the permadeath thing is actually a bluff because I have died like 8 times in this burning house.

precision
May 7, 2006

Gonna have me some good friends around
Gonna have me some good times in town




veni veni veni posted:

I really hope the permadeath thing is actually a bluff because I have died like 8 times in this burning house.

That is far and away the worst part of the game. If there's a gimmick that makes it easier, I never figured it out. You just have to learn where the runes are and then keep eating poo poo until you get lucky enough to focus on them without dying, or getting killed in the maze.

There's another maze later that is much better and I'm just like why did they leave the burning house as is, didn't anyone say "yo this part is hard in a way that isn't fun and a lot of people will probably stop playing here"

Snak
Oct 10, 2005

I myself will carry you to the Gates of Valhalla...
You will ride eternal,
shiny and chrome.


Grimey Drawer

precision posted:

That is far and away the worst part of the game. If there's a gimmick that makes it easier, I never figured it out. You just have to learn where the runes are and then keep eating poo poo until you get lucky enough to focus on them without dying, or getting killed in the maze.

There's another maze later that is much better and I'm just like why did they leave the burning house as is, didn't anyone say "yo this part is hard in a way that isn't fun and a lot of people will probably stop playing here"

Which burning house are you guys talking about?

precision
May 7, 2006

Gonna have me some good friends around
Gonna have me some good times in town




The part where you're being chased by the fire monster

veni veni veni
Jun 5, 2005

We've never been into punk. It was too traditional.


It's one of the trials to get the sword. I kept getting burned while trying to look at the runes because the fire spread so fast. All in all I died about 8 or 9 times, with only one death in the game prior to that.

Snak
Oct 10, 2005

I myself will carry you to the Gates of Valhalla...
You will ride eternal,
shiny and chrome.


Grimey Drawer

I have never died in that place. I wonder what we're doing differently. I just ran constantly until I came upon a rune, looked at it for 1 second and ran more. It only got close to me once.

It's amazing how people seem to have wildly different experiences with this game. It's also possibly that if you left the difficulty on auto, you were playing that encounter on hard.

Snak fucked around with this message at 03:54 on Aug 11, 2017

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precision
May 7, 2006

Gonna have me some good friends around
Gonna have me some good times in town




I think what's hard about that part is that it's very hard to know if you have time to "scan" the rune or not, and because looking at the thing makes it come for you faster, it can be very difficult to keep track of exactly where it is. Plus there is at least one dead end in the maze as a gently caress you.

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