At GDC 2023, Dutch actress Melina Juergens appeared on stage for the State of Unreal live keynote; after a short demonstration of the new features coming to the Metahuman software, a brief new trailer of Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II was played and then shared by developer Ninja Theory on YouTube.
Ninja Theory wrote:
We’re pushing the boundaries of realtime facial animation in Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II, as showcased at #GDC23 with @UnrealEngine.
The facial animations shown are indeed absolutely spectacular. If you can’t check out the video right away, we’ll also report the brief voiceover of Senua, a teaser for the game.
I see through your darkness now. I see through your lies. I will show them how to see as I do. I will not appease your gods. I will destroy them.
Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II was announced at The Game Awards 2019, roughly a year and a half after Microsoft acquired Ninja Theory (alongside Playground Games, Undead Labs, and Compulsion Games). It would be a long time before Ninja Theory was properly shown again, though.
The first and only gameplay trailer aired at The Game Awards 2021. In the video, Senua leads a band of fellow humans in a fight against a giant. Not much is known about this sequel. So far, Ninja Theory said it would be a journey of hundreds of miles across Iceland.
Around a year ago, we had a few developers boasting about the game’s quality. Founder and chief design director Tameem Antoniades stated outright that Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II would make the original game look like an indie game by comparison. That would make sense, as the original game was after all billed as a triple-I title at the time.
A month later, combat designer Juan Fernández said the game’s quality was through the roof compared to similar titles. The designer also pointed to some of the flaws in the combat system of Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, such as the limited viability of long range combat, the lack of enemy variety and the poor balancing of difficulty modes, hinting that those would be resolved in the sequel.
If you haven’t played Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice yet, the game is available on Game Pass and an absolute masterpiece in the action/adventure genre, as noted in the review I wrote at the time (scoring it 9/10).
Blending powerful imagery, unrivaled visuals quality, an excellent combat system and a unique setting that mixes Norse mythology with mental illness, Ninja Theory fully delivers on their independent AAA pitch with Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice. This is one of those titles that, albeit not flawless, should be experienced by every gamer at some point.
Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II does not have a release date yet, but Ninja Theory promised more developer diaries throughout the year, and a launch towards the end of 2023 just might be possible.