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Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II


Release Date

ESRB Rating




Bob Hoose

Game Review

In 2017, the dark fantasy adventure game, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, splashed on the gaming scene and picked up many accolades. Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II is the direct sequel and dives back into the nerve-rattling action set in 9th-century Iceland.

Once again, the central character here is our physically and mentally scarred young heroine, Senua. She struggles with the constant whispering voices of her schizophrenia-like psychosis.

Of course, in Senua’s time, the swirling voices in her head are thought to be spirits that whisper doubts and encouragements; they open paths and give insights as Senua pushes toward her hallucination-laced goals. (The game is designed to be played with headphones in place. And that binaural immersion intensifies the disturbing and disorienting aspects of Senua’s ongoing inner torments.)

Senua’s Saga picks up where the first game left off. The embattled protagonist has allowed herself to be captured by Northmen who keep raiding her lands and enslaving her people. That may seem to be a self-destructive choice, but Senua and her voices know that she is a battle-hardened and raging fighter. And her goal is to allow the slavers to draw her into their fold where she can then gut them from within. She’ll have the chance to find justice for the innocent while also, she believes, atone for her own past sins.

However, Senua’s vengeance-soaked mission isn’t as simple as she hopes. Through the struggles of an Icelandic shipwreck, encounters with mystical hazards of the lands, torrents of bloodthirsty and cannibalistic monsters, and battles with enormous giants, she finds that blood-boiling rage doesn’t solve every problem.

As Senua slashes her way toward a cathartic solution, it becomes clear that monsters are made, not born.

Gameplay is focused on melee combat involving attacks, parries and dodges; exploration through large, graphically defined landscapes; some character interactions; and solving environmental puzzles. This third-person action-adventure game is single-player and it does not require an online connection after the game is installed. There are four levels of difficulty to choose from.


Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II is photo-realistic in its movement capture and graphic presentation. And between those highly detailed images and the binaural sound immersion (featuring always moving, breathe-in-your-ear voices), the gameplay is incredibly impressive.

In the game’s opening screen, we’re told that psychiatric professionals assisted in its realistic depiction of psychosis. The game therefore gives players insight into how schizophrenia can torment people who suffer from it. And the ongoing story also points to how extreme feelings of grief, loss, rage and guilt can reshape people into monsters they never wanted to be.

“Darkness outside makes darkness inside,” the game tells us.

On the other hand, Senua’s Saga also suggests that people always have choices. Even when dealing with uncommon struggles, you can choose better paths; you can reach for help.


All of the above positives noted, however, potential gamers should also take note that this is an intense and very M-rated game. The incredible graphics can showcase a radiant sunset, but they also make this game’s entrail-spilling gore all that more realistic. Blood spews and spatters at every turn.

Scenes focus on cannibalistic savagery; people are hacked apart and left in piles of dismembered limbs and fly-speckled gunk. Bloody body parts are recrafted into suspended, dripping displays. And feral men gobble the contents of cracked-open skulls. You face screeching, sinewy killers who swing swords, throw axes and spew flames. The game certainly leans into its barbarically gruesome elements with glee.

And this title’s incredible immersion qualities also drag gamers into a very dark and creepy domain of growling, unseen tormentors with a corrupting demonic feel about them. In fact, Senua’s entire Icelandic world feels nightmarish, ready to rip and tear into anything and everyone unfortunate enough to exist there.


This sequel lives up to the graphics and gameplay expectations of its predecessor. But it also drags gamers through gruesome gore while baring gristle filled teeth.

Bob Hoose

After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.