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Hellblade’s permadeath mechanic just got more confusing

Yesterday, one of the biggest news stories in gaming surrounded Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice. Upon the game’s release, a non-optional save wiping mechanic was discovered, with the game explaining that should Senua die too many times, all progress will be lost. At the time, there was plenty of debate surrounding whether or not this was a good feature, but since then, the discussion has shifted to exploring whether or not this mechanic actually exists.

Around 20 to 30 minutes in to Hellblade, you encounter an unbeatable enemy and end up with a disease known as ‘the rot’. The game then displays the following message: “The dark rot will grow each time you fail. If the rot reaches Senua’s head, her quest is over. And all progress will be lost.”

This was taken as confirmation of this mechanic by many but a report from PCGamesN seems to indicate that the threat of losing your save file might actually be a bluff from the developers. The site spent some time dying in the game over and over again and found that while the rot does grow with death, the point you are at in the story has a bigger effect. No matter how many times they died, they could not trigger a save wipe from their point in the story.

Now this has led to questions over whether or not the game’s early message is simply there to mess with your state of mind. A lot of Hellblade is built around the idea of mental health issues, hearing voices and suffering from psychosis. It wouldn’t be much of a stretch to think that the developers wanted to put some extra fear into players as they made their way through the story, bringing high stakes to each battle.

So far, developers at Ninja Theory have yet to clarify the situation. However, some of the folks over on NeoGAF believe that the game ‘resets’ the death count based on checkpoints throughout the game, so if you die a few times early on and make it to the next chunk of story with no deaths, those early failures won’t impact anything.

Besides that, the game appears to be fairly easy anyway, so reaching the maximum number of deaths would require a lot of effort on the players part according to many players.

KitGuru Says: I actually started playing Hellblade last night. It’s definitely a game designed to make you feel uneasy, so it wouldn’t surprise me if the message at the beginning of the game was supposed to play in to that. Have any of you picked up this game yet?

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  • Si C

    I was considering a purchase, but the permadeath thing has discouraged me a bit.

  • ectocooler

    It’s not real.

  • Damien Mason

    To each their own, however I think exploring a unique mechanic or at least such devotion to the character development to go as far as to lie about it is worth exploring more. I am more tempted to buy it, factoring in that the game is neither punishing nor lengthy.

    If it were a more punishing game like Dark Souls or a lengthy 40+ hour RPG then I could understand but it’s an 8-hour story approximately.

    Either way, I hope you do what’s best for you!