Yesterday we broke news regarding a permadeath system in Hellbalde: Senua’s Sacrifice. Prospective buyers were immediately torn over the alleged feature and the news spread like wildfire. As it turns out, Ninja Theory purposely misled everyone.
Although the game boldly places the threat of lost progress in front of the player at the beginning of the game, the message is a lie. Several players have tested the mechanic and accumulated countless deaths. No save-erasing feature ever revealed itself.
So why did Ninja Theory lie? It was clearly done to add to the sense of danger and uneasiness that permeates Hellblade. For a good while, players jumping in right away had this fear hanging over them that each death led them closer to irreversible failure. Then we find out our fears weren’t even real.
What a brilliant addition to a game that revolves around psychosis and the character’s attempt to separate fiction from reality. Well played, Ninja Theory.
Original Story Below
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice officially launches tomorrow and some important bits about the game are starting to seep out. There have been quiet rumblings of a permadeath system in Hellblade before, but it has somehow managed to go mostly unreported.
Now a gameplay walktrough on Youtube and even an accidental early review, which has since been taken down, have detailed this punishing system. As players progress through the game, the threat of death hangs above Senua around every turn, whether it is at the hands of an enemy or a misstep while engaging in a platforming segment.
Should Senua fall victim to any one of these deadly variables a dark, oily mass will begin to grow and spread up her right arm. If this corruption reaches her head, the curse will consume Senua as she gives in to her afflictions.
This moment is not simply treated with a “Game Over” screen that only briefly interrupts your game before you retry your failed section of gameplay. That is, if you continue to die repeatedly. Upon reaching this point, your failure will receive a harsh punishment that will make you rethink how you approach every encounter in Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice.
The punishment is the complete destruction of your current save. That’s right. Any and all progress made after too many deaths results in your save being erased. From there, it’s back to the very beginning to try it all again.
Whether this system proves to work to the game’s style or simply adds a layer of frustration to the 6-8 hour journey remains to be seen. With the game unlocking wordwide in the coming hours, we won’t have to wait too long to find out how this mechanic impacts the experience.
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice will be available on PC and PS4 August 8th with a $29.99 price tag.