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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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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.

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.

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".

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

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"

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

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.

precision
May 7, 2006

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




veni veni veni posted:

Holy poo poo the trial in the darkness is spooky as all hell.

I was getting severe Silent Hill vibes, and not in the good way

For that matter the river of blood with the writhing bodies was very "Silent Hill" and made me feel really gross, but in a good way

precision
May 7, 2006

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




Honestly though the scariest moment in the game to me was quite early - when you see Hela's giant head coming out of the gate on the bridge

Also the whole Venravn Trial is basically "welcome to Blair loving Witch" so despite it being well-lit I was freaked the gently caress out the whole time.

precision
May 7, 2006

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




Yeah I don't think I died in the River of Blood. You do a lot more damage at that point so I just prioritized not being flanked and taking out the easier guys first. Perfect parries give you Focus, and any time you can use the charged blade attack do it. You should be able to literally (on Normal) take out 2-3 guys in quick succession if you Focus at the right time.

precision
May 7, 2006

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




The autosave is also what screwed my game up before, I think. I quit playing after finishing Red Area, and when it loaded me back into the game, I couldn't go anywhere new and I could clip through doors.

precision
May 7, 2006

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




Yeah Surt is way easier but Valravn isn't hard, he just takes a while. His attacks don't do much damage so as long as you button mash to get up he shouldn't be able to kill you. Definitely remember to block his thrown dagger attack.

Also, Parry seems to block ALL damage from ALL attacks even if you don't time it right - lots of times I would just hold Block when I saw a big attack coming and I'd get knocked back but take no damage.

precision
May 7, 2006

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




One thing I really liked is that Dillian wasn't some Manic Pixie Dream Boy, his stories about his dad perfectly explained why he was nice to Senua, to the point where I feel like it might have been a better choice if they had been "just friends".

A note on doing the two areas in the beginning: The Red Door has combat encounters in it, the Blue Door does not. If you do the Blue Door first, the combat behind the Red Door will have stronger enemies and more of them, so if you don't really like the combat much it's to your advantage to do Red Door first.

precision
May 7, 2006

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




There are other puzzles of that type later, but not many. Yeah, it kinda comes out of nowhere.

precision
May 7, 2006

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




Weird thing about the lorestones, I missed one but I still got the scene with Druth that you're only supposed to get if you find all the lorestones.

precision
May 7, 2006

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




PantsBandit posted:

Just beat Surtr. That whole sequence was great. I feel like the shape-puzzles are pretty pointless though and don't really add anything to the game.

They felt pointless because the game shows you exactly where to go. It would have been more fun if you could Focus to get a hint but otherwise had to actually find the shapes on your own, because some of the later ones required pretty clever thinking.

precision
May 7, 2006

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




I definitely meant it when I said I'd have been happy to spend $60 on this, lord knows plenty of 8 hour $60 games are much worse, but pricing it at $30 hopefully means it'll sell better and we'll get HELLBLADE 2: SENUA'S GENOCIDE

precision
May 7, 2006

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




To me it seemed like the ending was directly setting up a sequel, though I do share the concerns that it might not be as good.

precision
May 7, 2006

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




Torpor posted:

Choosing to not have a HUD but then have your loving achievements pop up on screen with stupid names attached to them is goofy as gently caress.

I don't think developers have a choice in that matter, at least not on PS4. It's why I've had the "Trophy Alert" turned off forever.

Has anyone figured out if anything happens if you just keep fighting infinitely at the end?

precision
May 7, 2006

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




Game keeps topping PSN's sales chart and even got up to #2 on Steam at one point. I'm so happy this game is doing well, probably do a second playthrough tonight on Hard to see the balance changes.

precision
May 7, 2006

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




Mindblast posted:

From what I understand (endgame spoiler) without Druth everything would have been different for Senua. Her culture is quite different, if it werent for Druth she would not have that information on northern mythology. Not only did it provide a form and fuel for her psychosis, it also gave her the illusion of an objective to chase. She was glad she met Druth but in the long run it ended up being detrimental.

Well, also she outright says she would have died if she hadn't met Druth in the wilds, and that he suffered from psychosis as well and is the one who helped her understand that she can fight it off

precision
May 7, 2006

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




Started my Hard Mode replay and the balance changes are great, it makes me wish there was an "endless arena" mode. I'm seeing combos I didn't know existed still!

Also got the Platinum. Turns out the ONE Runestone I missed is one I hadn't actually missed at all, it just hadn't triggered before for some reason.

precision
May 7, 2006

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




I'm really glad that there's a twist involving Druth, but it isn't anything cliché like most devs would have done, ie "he was actually terrible to Senua" or "he wasn't a real person" or whatever. Druth > Dillion

precision
May 7, 2006

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




I usually don't get mad at Yahtzee's reviews but he gets actual facts wrong (the permadeath thing, for starters) and the whole tone of it was like "punching downwards". Like yeah, it's his gimmick to hate, but I can think of dozens of reviews this year where he talked about how good the game was while criticizing the few things it got wrong. Dumping so hard on a $30 passion project that at least tries some cool stuff is just lame. I expected him to at least praise the fact the game has no HUD and teaches you everything about how to play it without text boxes saying "press button to parry!" etc.

precision
May 7, 2006

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




New patch, no idea what it did.

How come nobody knows the real answer as to whether the game erases your save file? I keep seeing stupid people trashing the game for doing that, but as far as I can Google, Ninja Theory haven't actually said if it does and some guy tried dying dozens of times and never had his save erased.

precision
May 7, 2006

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




It would be nice if Ninja Theory would come right out and say it never happens, though, because then all the people claiming that it's happened to them (who all just happen to also hate the game for being "SJW") will look even more stupid than they already do.

precision
May 7, 2006

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




I died at least 20 times during the Burning House segment, and then a bunch later during the Bridge, and had the same thing happen (reset to elbow), on Hard. It's ridiculous that people are claiming it's happened to them, or that they care so much about this game to make poo poo up.

precision
May 7, 2006

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




Has the dust settled on how well the game did financially yet?

precision
May 7, 2006

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




Yeah I imagine it's the kind of game that will have a pretty long tail sales-wise, like Journey.

precision
May 7, 2006

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




Ineffiable posted:

This is also a game they published themselves if I remember right? Which is why there's no physical edition and they could settle on a $30 price point. So they pretty much broke even already and we still have holidays to give people lots of gift cards or steam library gifting. And it hasn't been on sale at all on PC or ps4, those sales should give it a real boost.

Yup. I think they did good here.

haldolium posted:

I find the comparison fitting, SpecOps is what I'm reminded of mostly as well here. But not in a good way.

All I get from Senua is a creepy atmosphere and very dull gameplay. Pretty much the same feelings that SpecOps evoked (not creepy there, but "alternative war"). Both promise much, and for some reason it resonates with a huge amount of players, but not with me. Both games are caged into a known genre with all their unique approaches taking actually place outside of that. I miss the connection, the game interweaving the narration and journey of a psychosis beyond "binaural 3D audio" whisperings (that frankly are such a common tool in horror movies and games that it just doesn't work as intended for me) and some effects here and there. I would've appreciated a wilder, less narrow approach (if that makes sense) with a lot less of safe space in terms of gameplay/mechanics. I don't really have the remedy ad hoc for what I've appreciate instead for this particular topic, all I know so far is that Seduna is unconvincing and breaks the 4th wall often, exactly like SpecOps, through unimaginative and frankly boring gameplay.

Different strokes, but I legit loved the gameplay in this game, to the point where I actively want an arena/boss rush mode.

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precision
May 7, 2006

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





Extremely surprising but cool!

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