Hellblade 2 – A Glorified Tech Demo That’s A Tad Too Late

Title – Hellblade 2: Senua’s Saga

Platforms – Xbox Series X/PC

Release Date –  May 21st, 2024

Developer – Ninja Theory

Publisher – Microsoft Game Studios

MSRP – $49.99

ESRB – M for Mature

Purchase – Amazon

Disclaimer – Hellblade 2: Sensua’s Saga was reviewed on the PC. Thanks to Microsoft and Team Xbox for providing a digital review code. Gaming Instincts is an Amazon Affiliate and does gain financial benefits if you choose to purchase this product on this page.


Hellblade 2: Senua’s Saga

is a direct sequel to critically acclaimed Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice that released back in August 7th, 2017. Without any spoilers, the game picks up right where the original left off. Thankfully, you don’t have to play the original game too play, since Hellblade 2 provides a full on re-cap of the first game before you begin. If you are into Norse mythology and are looking for something dark, bloody, and gritty, then Hellblade 2: Senua’s Saga has got you covered.

The Experience

It’s hard to talk about Hellblade 2: Senua’s Saga in great detail because it’s really more of an artistic experience about a woman who suffers from psychosis. While it is technically a “video game” with your typical movement system, swordplay combat and puzzle solving, Hellblade 2 really leaves much to be desired—so much so to be considered a full-on fledged out video game. However, if you are looking for something atypical from other straightforward experiences like The Last of Us or God of War series, Hellblade 2 will be what you bargained for and then some.

Throughout your adventure, you will meet different characters that you’ll both love and hate. The voice acting is absolutely top notch. Ninja Theory did an excellent job when it came to picking voice actors for their cast. For spoilers’ sake, I won’t mention any of the characters here, but  I was pleasantly surprised with the voice acting work. The story itself is also quite good. As previously, mentioned it picks up where the first game left off and then goes deeper into Norse mythology and Senua’s mind and her struggle with psychosis. I will warn you though; the game is quite dark and contains disturbing content such as gore, blood, cannibalism, and other depictions of horror elements.

Hellblade 2: Senua’s Saga starts off quite slow, but the plot picks up momentum as you move along. There were many moments where I was about to end my play session, but then I got to a pivotal part of the story, teased with what could come next, and that got me to continue playing. The game is good at hooking you into storyline while also keeping on the edge of your seat because you can’t wait to see what could just be around the next corner. The length of the game is about 6-8 hours and spans across seven chapters. It also has a total of only 11 achievements, seven of which are story progression-based, one for using photo mode and two others for finding secrets. There are also some off-beaten paths that you can find throughout your playthrough where you can discover hidden illusionary walls. No spoilers, but they’re pretty cool.

Unfortunately, while the game may provide the user with a great immersive storytelling, it sadly does not provide an interesting gameplay loop whatsoever. Majority of the game is on rails, with almost no exploration of any kind other than for the aforementioned hidden content. Majority of the gameplay boils down to walking down a linear path, seeing a cutscene, solving a puzzle accompanied by the occasional arena combat against a horde of enemies (who for some reason fight you one-by-one). Combat is basic, relying on light attacks and heavy attacks, with the ability to dodge side to side while the camera is being focused both on you and the enemy. There is no free movement of any kind during the combat sequence. Ninja Theory is trying to make this as cinematic as possible. While I can see what they were going for on paper, the end result is unfortunately not up to snuff. The more I played,  the more I just wanted the combat to end quickly so I could see what happens next in the story.

The game has very high quality production values including beautiful character models and fantastic water effects, including rain and gorgeous environments. The game also takes place in a variety of different times of day. Including both night, daytime and morning time. The same goes for locations, you’ll be visiting villages, open fields, caves and so on. I was quite surprised at the diversity of locales. One of my concerns was that the entire game and story was going to be taking place entirely in the dark and in the same location but thankfully that was not the case.

However, it would have been much more impressive if the game would of came a few years earlier. Don’t get me wrong; the game looks great. But for today’s standard, it is kind of to be expected.

The most impressive thing to me about Hellblade 2 was the audio. Throughout the entirety of your playthrough, you will be hearing two voices speaking to Senua in her head. Think of it like when you have a devil speaking into your right ear while the angel is speaking to your left. We all have been in those situations where we have two different personalities in our head telling us what to do and what not to do. The game makes great use of binaural audio to create a 3D soundscape as you would hear it with your own ears. They did in the first game, and have mastered it for the sequel. It is highly recommend that you play this game with good quality headphones to get the full immersive experience.

To top it all off, Ninja Theory made sure to deliver a fantastic soundtrack as well. The soundtrack is performed by none other than Heilung who are an experimental folk music band made up of members from Denmark, Norway, and Germany. Heilung managed to capture the dark tribal feel of Norse Mythos perfectly and no one could be better suited for the job. Huge kudos to Ninja Theory for giving them the opportunity. The visuals and audio are the strongest aspects of this game.

Final Verdict

Ninja Theory tried to deliver a fantastical experience through Hellblade 2: Senua’s Saga and I believe they’ve succeed in that from a story and presentation front. However, as a gamer, I wish the gameplay was a bit more involved from the linearity the developers tacked on. It’s kind of hard to judge this game, because, objectively, it does what it set out to do: to create an interactive, independent high-quality production. It has nailed all the aspects when it comes to that.

At the end of the day though, I am here to play video games, not really watch highly interactive films. So you have to ask yourself: Do I want to experience an awesome cinematic dark gritty horror interactive film that takes place in Norse mythology? Or, do I wish to go play something more involved like God of War where I slay some monsters and upgrade my gear?

Neither of those choices are wrong. Hellblade 2: Senua’s Saga is just its own thing and you can either accept it for what it is or move along because it may not be for you.

Still, I think my biggest gripe with Hellblade 2: Senua’s Saga is that it took way too long to come out. While the visuals are impressive, they are not as jaw dropping as they would have been a couple of years ago. You have plenty of other upcoming titles in the near future such as GTA 6 and Death Stranding 2 that have way more gameplay and look just as a good, if not better, than this. I believe that Hellblade 2: Senua’s Saga missed its sweet spot window and is too much of a glorified tech demo for me personally more than anything else.

Hellblade 2: Senua’s Saga will be receiving a final verdict of 7/10.


I wouldn’t call Hellblade 2: Senua’s Saga a fun experience, but rather more of an interesting one than anything. There is not much gameplay here sadly.


Beautiful game that utilizes multiple aspects of Unreal Engine 5, but not as impressive as it could of been at this point


One of the best audio experiences you’ll have, fantastic soundtrack and voice acting as well


There is not really much to do here. The game is roughly 6-8 hours depending on how fast you are with puzzles and good at combat.