Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice comes out today and the reviews have struck up a big conversation on one specific aspect of the games design: Die too much and lose your save file.
The mechanic works by having black tendrils work their way up the player’s arm each time they die. If they reach Senua’s head you will lose your save file and have to start the entire game over from the beginning. The mechanic will have an undoubted effect on the game’s pace and tone and could be one of the most talked about parts of the experience in the years to come. It will also be interesting to see what – if any – the legacy it leaves behind as well.
The ‘permadeath’ mechanic is proving to incredibly controversial amongst critics and players alike; with many people praising it as a unique piece of design and many others condemning it as consumer unfriendly
However, whether you like or dislike the mechanic it is undeniably retro. The idea of ‘permadeath’ isn’t something new amongst the indie community, which often leans fairly heavily on old school games design, but finding another example of such a design in the AAA market is nearly impossible. Finding old school design in new games is a little bit exciting, whether it is successful or not it’s nice to see developers be bold with their design choices.
With many of the initial reviews being overwhelmingly positive, it will be interesting to see whether players will engage with the mechanic and its effect on the games atmosphere or if the idea will depress sales.
Will this be the hardest game of the year? You can order it HERE and find out for yourself.