Ninja Theory’s Hellblade Explores Psychosis and Mental Illness

We certainly weren’t expecting this. Ninja Theory, the developer behind Heavenly Sword, the underrated Enslaved: Odyssey to the West and the divisive Devil May Cry reboot DmC, are back with a brand new trailer for upcoming PS4 and PC game Hellblade, which is set to offers players a look “through the lens of mental illness.”

The game, which is supported by the Wellcome Trust, sees players assuming the role of Senua, a Celtic warrior who is suffering from psychosis after a Viking invasion. The game will see Senua taking a “journey into Hell,” with that Hell being a manifestation of her mental illness and its damaging, crippling effects. 

I can’t remember if there’s ever been a game, at least not from a high-profile developer such as Ninja Theory, that has made the topic of mental illness integral to its plot. I mean, it’s understandable why this wouldn’t be the case, given the inevitable difficulties a developer would find in presenting the subject matter in a way that wouldn’t undermine the suffering of those with mental illnesses, but considering the amount of video games out there you’d think we’d have seen at least one from someone other than an indie dev that deals with the terrifying world of mental illness head-on. 

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Speaking of how the game tackles its subject, the Wellcome Trust’s Creative Partnerships Manager Iain Dodgeson said: “More and more, games have an exciting and innovative role to play in giving us new perspectives on health and mental health challenges. Rather than being a didactic game teaching us about psychosis, Hellblade allows us to explore it through the creation of a compelling and complex character, and the world that she inhabits.”

Watch the trailer for the game, which is set for release in 2016, below: