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Tips To Survive Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is a harrowing journey into the lead character’s real and perceived hell and it would serve to have a helping hand. In actuality, you have quite a few helping hands when you get into the game but we’re here to give a bit of direction as well. If you want a deeper dive into just what Hellblade is, check out our review.

There are two facets of gameplay we'll be specifically giving guidance on: Puzzles and combat. This beginner’s guide will be as spoiler-free as possible, only mentioning puzzles with no explanation of their context to the story. No matter what you do in this game, make sure you pay close attentions to the many voices you hear.

Facing Senua’s Fears

Ninja Theory regularly flexes its action pedigree with a well-designed combat system in Hellblade, but the atmospheric puzzles and mazes edge combat out for play time ever so slightly. Hellblade isn’t an overly long game, thus the designers don’t retread ground a whole lot when it comes to the different puzzles that players are introduced to. In addition to listening to the voices, there are a couple of other tips that will help you overcome the many illusions, mazes, and trials.

When you enter new spaces, fully take in your surroundings. The early portion of the game has two paths with very different puzzle styles. The first part of each introduces you to the puzzle with a task that gets you from point A to point B quickly but, after that, all bets are off. Keep the puzzle’s unique parameters in mind as soon as you enter a new area, including opening more paths by removing bars from doors (you’ll encounter locked ones that can only be opened from the other side) and lowering bridges. At points, you’ll be traveling through different versions of the space you inhabit but getting from one space to another in either version may depend on an opened door or lowered bridge.

Later into the game, you’ll be tested with four trials that are nothing like one another. The rule for all but one is patience, take the time to take in your surrounds and move accordingly. The fourth? Speed and efficiency. You’ll be running through a maze while being chased by a dark spirit that will kill you if it gets near but will also splinter your vision if it sees you and make it difficult for you to move around. You’re looking for three objects while sprinting through this maze, but don’t feel like you absolutely have to stop for those items if the spirit is getting close. There’s no time limit so just keep moving to create space between you and it.

The last tip comes courtesy of Jim Sterling, who has had quite the experience with Hellblade. There’s a puzzle later in the game where your task is just to move from light source to light source as quickly as possible. The rule here is: All light sources matter. Don’t sprint past one thinking you can make it because...you won’t. Take a break at every lantern and, if you have a chance to light an unlit one, do so. It will make things much easier for you in the long run.

Surviving Combat

The combat in Hellblade is intimate and has a weight to it that makes every attack feel important. You have light and heavy attacks, a block, a guard break, and a dodge. Your attacks can also be modified in a realistic manner with the sprint button or by immediately attacking after dodging in various directions. For the majority of the game, you’ll face two or three enemies at a time. As is the general rule with this game from open to close: listen to the voices. They will clue you in on when you’re being approached from behind, when an enemy is near death, and even ways to best the different style of opponents. There’s no health bar in this game either, but your picture will become blurrier as Senua takes more damage and she’ll be doubled over in pain as she gets closer to falling for good. Oh...and there's a chance you'll erase your save file if you fail frequently enough.

Keep your enemies in front of you at all times. This is important with only a few enemies in the conflict zone, so just imagine what it will be like with five to eight assailants coming at you. The good news is, the base four enemies meander fairly slowly as they size you up. Once you have them in your field of few, you only need to worry about those that have charge or leap attacks that can close the distance between you two really quickly. They will attack in a similar way from behind and, sometimes, the voices won’t be enough warning before Senua is struggling to stand and continue her fight.

The running quick attack is a great way to close distance with standard enemies, but be wary of using it against those with stout guards early in the game. Your attack will glance off their shields and leave you wide open for a strong counter. Later in the game, though, your weapon will be able to break the guard of just about anyone whether it's a light or quick attack.

When it comes to boss fights, enter with caution and use quick attacks as you learn their patterns. Strong attacks can easily miss and leave you open to attacks that will take you all the way down to a point where one more hit puts you down for good. Once more I remind you: Listen to the voices. They will spot things quicker than you in boss fights and when they tell you to “focus," TRUST THEM.