First Hellblade Gameplay Trailer, Plot Explores Mental Health Issues

Posted June 11, 2015 by Richard Lee Breslin in Developer Diary, Gameplay, Gaming News, PC, PS4, Screenshots, Trailers


In this day and age, mental health issues and depression is increasingly becoming less of a taboo subject, thankfully.  Most of us would have or will have experienced the illness at some point in our lives, for a number of reasons.  Sometimes we get help from professionals, sometimes from a friend or sometimes people might think that they have no one to talk too (that’s not true, there is always someone).  At times it can take something to trigger a memory to seek help, whether it be something seen in the news, read in a book, a TV program or perhaps a movie.  But what about the videogame medium?  Well that’s exactly where Ninja Theory and their game Hellblade comes into play.

With a week to go until E3, Ninja Theory has released its first proper gameplay trailer for Hellblade and with it comes some very interesting plot details.  Our playable protagonist suffers from a mental illness, in particular Psychosis.  Psychosis can affect people in a number of ways, it can cause hallucinations, delusions and sometimes can even cause its victim to lose some grasp of reality.  Psychosis can come with added conditions such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and of course depression.  Many factors can cause it to trigger, whether it is a traumatic experience, stress or even drug and alcohol abuse.  Whatever its reason for existence, it’s a very painful experience and I think it’s great that Ninja Theory are bringing some awareness into the videogame medium.


In Hellblade Senua’s tale is inspired by historical events and her illness is a result of being traumatised by a Viking invasion, Senua’s  journey is a vision of her own hell and a “manifestation of her own mental illness.”  To ensure that Ninja Theory treat this subject with the sensitively it deserves; they have enlisted the help and advice from the Psychiatrist and Professor of Health and Neuroscience from the University of Cambridge, Paul Fletcher and the charity Wellcome Trust.  You can read up on all the details via the press release below.

You can also watch the E3 gameplay trailer above and the latest developer diary video below from Ninja Theory, where they talk of the fragile, yet powerful mind of Senua.

Hellblade will release for PS4 and PC in 2016.


Paul Fletcher said: “True understanding of mental health is not simply about books, lectures or verbal descriptions but from deeper engagement on all levels. Working with Ninja Theory has shown me the potential that gaming has for sharing in a character’s experiences and engendering empathy in ways that go well beyond those offered by simple academic descriptions. Maybe this approach will contribute powerful new ways of challenging stigma.”

Tameem Antoniades, Chief Creative Director at Ninja Theory, said: “In Hellblade we are pursuing creative independence in order to explore a compelling subject matter and gaming experience that would not be possible under the current retail model. In movie terms, this would be a quality independent film, not a Hollywood blockbuster. Digital self-publishing means that we can offer a smaller, but high quality game at around half the price of retail games.”

The project is supported by the Wellcome Trust, a global charitable foundation which aims to build a greater public understanding of science, and in particular health.

Iain Dodgeon, Creative Partnerships Manager at the Wellcome Trust, added: “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.



Richard Lee Breslin
Richard Lee Breslin

Gamimg has been my life for 30+ years and will always be my passion. I have a BDes Hons Games Development and Digital Media, and I hope to one day turn my passion for gaming and writing into a living. My favourite gaming series are Resi Evil, Metal Gear Solid, Silent Hill, Assassin's Creed, Uncharted and The Last of Us. I collect gaming merchandise, comics and movies. I love football (namely Aston Villa) and WWE. I can also often be found wondering the outskirts of Raccoon City. Follow me on Twitter @Solidus5nake and you can check out my Patreon here:

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