Nintendo Switch Port Review: Hellblade Senua’s Sacrifice
When Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice released for PC and PlayStation 4 in 2017, before later releasing for Xbox One, this title published and developed by Ninja Theory quickly became one of the favourite games in recent times. It looked stunning, had very competent gameplay, an enthralling protagonist, an amazing voice cast and one of the best audio development I’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing. It was a game that explored mental health and in particular psychosis, in-fact, it was so powerful, it got much of the gaming community talking about their own struggles with mental health.
In my review for the PlayStation 4 version from 2017, I said its tale is “both haunting and beautifully told” and that it was “one of my standout games of [that] year”. So seeing as I’ve already reviewed Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice in full, here I’ll be talking about the quality of the Nintendo Switch port. However, you can read my review of Hellblade here.
Even though Hellblade is developed by the same talented team that brought us Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, 2013’s DmC reboot and the criminally under-appreciated Heavenly Sword, the port of Hellblade was handled by QLOC. This team has a rich history of porting titles, mainly from console to PC such as Dark Souls: Remastered, Mortal Kombat 11, a number of Capcom releases and much more. So it’s fair to say that from the get-go, this Nintendo Switch port of Hellblade is in good hands and the quality of this port, considering its roots, is quite the technical marvel from start to finish.
Of course visually, to successfully port this great looking and demanding game from the much powerful systems to the Nintendo Switch, it will have to have some sacrifices (no pun intended), thankfully not at the expense of our heroine, Senua. But that’s an obvious compromise and while this game understandably falls under-par visually, it’s still incredibly impressive that this port has happened at all, especially to the high standard that it is. Detail on the environment, to Senua, NPC’s and the environmental textures do look a little grainy and rough around the edges. There also seems to be less foliage in the world, and less detail such as blood when dealing damage to enemies.
However, for a game of its type, it’s still easily one of the best looking games on the Switch. One key method executed by QLOC is rather than having the in-game cut-scenes in real-time, like we get on the other platforms, on the Switch port, they are in essence FMV’s. This is a great way to make allowances, but yet retains much of the high quality cut-scenes as you blend into gameplay.
The transition from cut-scene to gameplay and vice versa, does have some very brief jitters as it transcends the two, but it’s a very minor discrepancy. Understandably at times, you do get some noticeable dips in framerate during some more of the demanding segments, but nothing that should even remotely put you off or hinder you experience with this magnificent game. Thankfully the combat isn’t hindered either, which remains as competent as other formats.
Also when playing docked or handheld, like with just about any game on the Nintendo Switch, resolution will differ depending on whether you play docked or in handheld, which puts out at 1080p docked and 720p handheld, and from what I can tell, the framerate just about performs the same regardless. In terms of audio, it seems that no expense has been made, as its equally as daunting and immersive as the other platforms. The voice-acting performances are exactly the same and so too is the audio quality, both with Senua and the voices in her head, likewise with the environment too. However, one issue that I do have, which isn’t to the fault of the game, is when playing with the Pro Controller (which my personal preference), there’s no audio jack in the controller to plug in your headset, which is the best way to experience Hellblade. However, the tablet does of course have a headset port, so if you don’t have a Pro Controller, you won’t find that to be of an issue.
All of that said, it’s truly a great testament to the great work done by QLOC to even get this game to work on the Nintendo Switch, especially to the level to that it performs. It would have been quite easy to make this a lazy, cash-in port, but you can tell that QLOC have taken great pride in the fantastic work that they have done here. If was going to ask for one improvement, if it would be possible, an update to make the framerate a little more consistent via an update would be great. However, playing this game again courtesy of this port, has reminded me of how Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is such a great game and if you’re a Nintendo Switch owner that is yet to experience this magnificent game, then you need to add it to your digital collection right now via the Nintendo eShop.
As a reminder, you can read our more in-depth review of Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice here.