Ninja Theory, the company which brought you the punk Dante in the DmC reboot and the twing-twang sidekick from Heavenly Sword, has decided to take on a more serious issue with its next game, Hellblade.
The PlayStation 4 and PC bound action game will come packaged with all the action that the studio is known for, seen in the trailer above. However, its story is aiming to shine light on an issue that many people deal with every day: mental illness. Anxiety and depression, hallucinations and delusions, our Celtic Warrior heroine Senua experiences all of these as she fights both her inner demons and external foes.
Ninja Theory’s Dominic Matthews explains more on PlayStation Blog:
Hellblade launches next year on PS4 and tells the story of Celtic Warrior Senua and her journey into Hell. The Hell in question is no ordinary Hell, but is in fact a Hell that is the manifestation of Senua’s mental illness. Senua experiences psychosis, including hallucinations and delusions, as well as suffering from anxiety and depression. As a player you will witness Senua’s living nightmare through her own eyes.
From George Orwell’s 1984, to George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, the best fantasy breaks down barriers and lets us see the world without prejudice. This is what we want to do with Hellblade. To see the world through Senua’s eyes, and in doing so, address a subject that is still considered taboo.
Developing Hellblade independently gives us the freedom to tackle a subject as challenging as mental health. It is a subject that we are handling with all the respect it deserves, ensuring that our portrayal of Senua’s condition is both accurate and sensitive.
Ninja Theory’s developer diary also further explains the state of Senua’s mind.
Interesting topic to be dealing with in an action game. We’ve all had people in our lives who have suffered from a mental illness, or perhaps even you have. Ninja Theory wants to reach out to everybody using Senua’s experience as a mirror or window into the human mind. Some video games have tackled the issue on a more personal level, but this is the first blockbuster style game I can think of that would hope to do so.
Despite being called a blockbuster game, though, Ninja Theory only has a team of about 15 people working on it, and it is a fully self-funded indie title. It’s hard to tell from the results so far.
Hellblade will be released for the PlayStation 4 and PC. Expect more from E3 next week.