Senua in the stormy waters of the opening cutscene in Senua's Saga: Hellblade II
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Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II Review – An intense story set to a stunning visual and audio backdrop

I want to bundle Senua in a blanket and protect her from the world.

Sequels are generally a hit or miss, but Senua's Saga does not miss. There's nothing better than when you continue a story, and it's deeper, heavier, and so emotional, but all the more beautiful for it. Senua's Saga does exactly that, adding some depth to its gameplay and some stunning visuals to create a top-tier experience.

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Senua holding her mirror in Senua's Saga: Hellblade II
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While I'm not happy that Senua has to struggle yet again, I am happy that we get to see more of her story. And the second part of Hellblade II is honestly just as good as the first.

Senua's Sacrifice was praised for its amazing representation of mental health, and that praise has to be extended to Senua's Saga. The mental health journey is never a straight path up or down. I like to think of it more as a rollercoaster, and just like the first, Senua navigates all of these struggles throughout the second chapter of her adventure.

She was doing better at the end of the first game, but, understandably, her progress takes a few steps back after traumatic experiences like the Northerners' returning, finishing what they started, and capturing her people as slaves. It's no surprise the shadow comes back. And it's no surprise that Senua doubts and fears.

But she still pushes forward. Sometimes, all you can do is push forward despite everything. Even though she is a warrior from ages past, this makes Senua relatable to everyone. She's fighting her own nightmares and getting back up every single time.

She sees the light in the future, in others, even in her darkest times. But it doesn't come easy. She learned it from her past, and it's a choice she has to make every time, even when the voices in her head doubt it. That's why I love Senua's story. The fact that she chose to leave the Slavemaster alive because she saw the rot taking over his body. That is something she is very familiar with, and she feels for a man who has the same struggle, even though she hates him for what he has done.

Mental health issues can often feel so difficult because those they impact don't show that they're dealing with them. Senua's story and struggles shine a light on just how tough it can be to cope with mental health issues, and the way it's presented in the game is heartfelt and sincere.

Score: 5/5


The tree of life behind hidden face in Senua's Saga: Hellblade II
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While the game is intense due to the topic it deals with, it's not that difficult to get through. It's a perfect balance of challenges combined with an amazing story. I loved the rune puzzles in the first game, and in this one, they go a step further. There is a fun new mechanic that I don't want to spoil that will flip the script on you.

On top of the Lorestone collectibles that were available in the first game, there are now hidden faces that you can also discover throughout the chapters. These faces hide a tree that will also divulge more lore about the world and its inhabitants. I love that when you go to the chapters tab in the Menu, you can see exactly how many Lorestones and hidden faces there are in each chapter. And you'll know exactly how many you missed. As I type this, I am waving my fist angrily at that one hidden face in chapter three that has still evaded me. I will find it.

Then there's the combat. Senua's Saga ramps up not only the amount of combat encounters you'll have, but the intensity of them, too. There are a number of different enemy types, each with their own patterns you'll need to learn to evade, block, and parry. They'll take a good few hits to drop unless you can nail the parry timing perfectly and occasionally trigger an incredibly satisfying one-hit kill.

That being said, there are only about four or five different enemy types that you'll come across, and so after a while the combat can get a little too repetitive. Developer Ninja Theory has put some time into making combat feel more weighty, though. There's a good heft to Senua's blade and the way it hacks and slashes through her foes. Rapidly mashing buttons on your controller to make Senua get back up and avoid a fatal blow, too, is immersive and far more intense than just pressing a button once and watching our heroine spring back to her feet.

Score: 4/5

Visual Design

Senua looking in the distance in Senua's Saga: Hellblade II
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The first game's visuals were groundbreaking, but the second one takes everything one step further. I wish I could have looked at Senua and her expressions more throughout the game honestly. When games go super realistic, human faces can nudge their way into the uncanny valley, but I never got that feeling when watching Senua and the rest of the cast in the game.

The cutscenes look amazing, but it's the fact that so many times, I could barely tell the difference between them and the actual gameplay that astounds me. There were so many instances where I would wait for the scene to end, only to realize I was supposed to be playing. The fact that it's so indiscernible really is a testament to the levels of production Ninja Theory has put into Seanua's Saga, and it made me enjoy every moment of the adventure that little bit more.

What's particularly refreshing over its predecessor is the variation in the environments Senua finds herself traversing. Each chapter brought with it new terrain and environments to explore. From snow-tipped mountains, eerie caves, dense forests, and lush cliffside meadows. Every single scenery change made me gasp in awe at how beautiful it looked. Even when it was pouring rain and couldn't be more muddy, the world still looked oddly picturesque.

The only issue I had with the visuals (and it really is more of an annoyance) is that so many of the rocks look like faces. I assume that was intentional, or I just really wanted to find them all so I started seeing things. But the amount of time I spent focused and looking around was definitely more than I would have wanted.

Score: 4.5/5

Sound Design

Senua listening to the screams of the people in Senua's Saga: Hellblade II
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I can't stop raving enough about the sound design in Hellblade II. From the background (and menu) music, to the environmental sounds to the amazing voice acting, I can't decide what's more perfect. Every Voice Actor really hit their mark, but I have to give all the props to Senua and the Furies. The voices of doubt, support, questions, concerns, negativity, and pessimism were persistent throughout the adventure, and thanks to the 3D binaural sound, you really do get a sense of the torment that Senua is dealing with on her adventure.

Did I often turn around thinking someone was in the room with me when the Furies started talking? Way too many times. But that's the point. They sounded like they were in my head, or in the room with me, adding to the experience.

The environmental sounds did the same. A fire crackling, a river streaming—all the sounds came together with an amazing soundtrack to make the world of Senua both real and magical. The effort that has been put into crafting this game in every aspect really has me so impressed.

Score: 5/5

Verdict - I don't want Senua to suffer, but I want more!

I enjoy it when a story has an ending, even if it's a little ambiguous. The first game had it, and I could have lived without the second one. I'm happy I don't have to, though! Senua's Saga cements itself among some of my favorites very easily, with a touching but heavy story, beautiful visuals, and a lot of hope. Is it bad that I'm now hoping for more?

[Disclosure: A free copy of the game was provided to PGG by Xbox for review purposes.]

If you want to know which games you can get on Game Pass, check out the Xbox Game Pass Core full game list on Pro Game Guides.

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Image of Hristina Matić
Hristina Matić
Hristina has been a full-time Staff Writer at Pro Game Guides since October 2023. She has a Master's degree in English Language, Literature and Culture from the University of Belgrade. She's used her love of English to write blogs, anime quizzes, books as well as work as a Content Editor before starting at PGG. She lives for the horror genre and you'll often find her playing Dead by Daylight, Lethal Company, and Phasmophobia. Hristina's comfort games are Outlast, Last of Us, and Until Dawn, which she has played or watched other people play more than 10 times each.

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Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II Review – An intense story set to a stunning visual and audio backdrop

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