Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 Reviews Are Calling It A Masterpiece

Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 Reviews Are Calling It A Masterpiece

Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 is out in the world and critic reviews have gone live. For a AAA first-party Xbox title that didn’t seem to get nearly as much marketing hype as one might expect, reviews paint a picture of a title that is equal parts brutal and beautiful. While outlets appear divided on their final verdict of Ninja Theory’s sequel to Senua’s Sacrifice, in most cases this divide falls more on the side of whether the game is just ‘good,’ or whether it’s a certified masterpiece. 

Reviews have praised Hellblade II for being one of the most visually stunning Xbox titles to date, with masterful sound design and a dark story that respectfully portrays Senua’s psychosis – however many, even those with perfect scores, have noted some inconsistencies in pacing, with some critics finding the gameplay to be too simple between story exposition. Interestingly, this seems to have sparked a discussion about what constitutes a ‘good’ game in a title that leans heavily on narrative as opposed to gameplay.

Currently, Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 has a Metacritic score of 81 across all platforms from 130 reviews, with a majority of those falling into the positive category – this score doesn’t dip or change between Xbox and PC reviews, either. 

In our own review of Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2, we found it to be an intense and at points almost overwhelming experience to play through, but found the game all the more better for exactly this reason. Our review said, “I walked away with tears in my eyes and chills, feeling like the story I experienced fundamentally changed my own perspective in the process. It’s been a long time since I experienced something like this, no less from a game with a relatively short runtime by AAA standards. That is truly a technological and narrative feat, and I find myself still thinking about Senua’s story, hours and days after the echoes of the past cease to ring clearly through my mind.” You can read our full Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 review here.

Let’s take a look at what the critics thought of Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2, from here in Australia and around the world. 

Hellblade 2 Reviews: The Aussies

Senua's Saga: Hellblade II Review
Image: Ninja Theory

GamesHub awarded it 4 stars, saying, “Though the combat and puzzles don’t feel new enough to really lift it to the next level, and devotees of the original might feel a bit let down by the lack of a real leap forward when it comes to those elements, Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II dazzles in the mere existence of its full, well-rounded world – a world where reality and fantasy collide just as often outside Senua’s mind, as it does inside.”

Press Start gave it a 9, saying, “Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II is yet another arresting, artful chapter in an adventure now two games long. Though it might approach iteration with a very safe hand, only going so far as to correct the original’s shortcomings, Ninja Theory’s clear strengths in story craft, audiovisual design, as well as their care for the dark subject matter manage to shine through brighter than ever before.”

Player2 gave it a B, and said, “If only. If only Ninja Theory got the combat and puzzles of Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 right. Had they, and we’d be talking about an all-time experience. Instead, I can only dream of what could have been.”

Checkpoint Gaming called the game a masterpiece with a perfect score of 10, saying, “Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II is well worth the wait and is a serious game of the year contender. Senua’s follow-up journey is the best exploration of mental health that we’ve seen in games to date, using incredibly striking visual imagery, metaphors and immersive soundscapes to have you feel right there next to her. In what has to be the most photo-realistic game of all time, you’re guaranteed to be constantly taken by the hero’s adventure as you take in the beautiful and often haunting Viking Iceland. Through mud and dirt, blood and bones, Senua and Ninja Theory in turn bare all to you, the player. A masterpiece, benchmark and magnum opus, Hellblade II is crucial storytelling you won’t soon forget.”

Stevivor gave it a ‘superb’ 9.5, saying, “Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 is a video game only on its surface. Scratch that away and you’ll see that it’s a deep, thought-provoking, interactive experience; it proves games as a form of art, demanding skill and talent. Ninja Theory should be very proud.”

WellPlayed scored it a 6, praising the game for its sound design and saying, “Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II is an achievement in visual fidelity but fails to define itself amid clumsy retreads and unengaging new ideas.”

Hellblade 2 Reviews: The rest of the world

Senua's Saga: Hellblade II Review
Image: Ninja Theory

IGN gave it an 8, saying, “A journey as brutal as it is beautiful delivered with hardware-pushing visuals and persistently absorbing audio, Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II is another Viking-worthy feast for the senses that meets the high bar set by its predecessor, even if it never really manages to clear it.”

VGC gave it a more lukewarm reception with three stars, saying, “Hellblade 2 is a mechanically dated game carried along by its incredible presentational flair. For a game shown alongside the debut of Series X, it’s not reflective of the story Xbox is trying to tell with its first party. As a result, it’s disappointing.”

Kotaku US gave an unscored review, saying, “A spellbinding meditation on anguish and compassion, Hellblade II delivers one of the most gripping interactive and sensory experiences of 2024.”

The Verge’s unscored review describes Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 as “an exhausting, beautiful experience that shattered me often, built me back up, and constantly challenged what it meant to manage one’s darkness. Senua is a broken person, but because of that, she fits into this broken world.”

ScreenRant scored it 4.5 out of 5, saying, “Horrifying, uplifting, and visually splendid, Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 is a marked improvement over the first title that helps build upon the meaningful and complex concepts presented in the first game.”

Game Informer awarded it a 9, saying, “This sequel sprinkles more broadly appealing thrills while retaining the thoughtful storytelling and artistry few triple-A games possess.”

Rock, Paper, Shotgun gave an unscored review, and said, “a more uncompromising version of the first game, Hellblade 2 offers a well told story and immaculate presentation. But it’s also even simpler, to the point where it treats interaction like an inconvenience.”

Dexerto gave it 3 stars, saying, “If you’re looking for a cool and fairly unique experience and you’ve got Game Pass, then Hellblade 2 could be worth your time. Its visual splendour and highlight moments are worth experiencing. But, if you haven’t played the original Hellblade yet? Do yourself a favour and go play that instead. In all ways except visual, it’s a better game.”

DigitalSpy awarded it 4 stars out of 5, saying, “Ninja Theory has produced a memorable game with Hellblade 2. It carries forward many of the aspects from the first game that worked while refining and improving upon them, and uses this as the base to tell a narrative that is engaging throughout and leaves a lasting impact.”

Polygon’s unscored review praised the visual fidelity of Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II, however noted that the shift from an internal battle to an external one left Senua’s character feeling lost amongst the spectacle. “It’s an inspiring story, and a hopeful one that seeks not to dwell in the mournful solemnity of the first game, instead pressing forward toward an impressively epic future. But, as with most epics, we only really get to see the broad strokes. We get the myth, but we lose the woman.”

Senua's Saga: Hellblade 2 Review
Image: Ninja Theory

PCGamesN gave it a 9, saying, “Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 is an impeccable story of coming to terms with trauma and making difficult decisions, punctuated by moments of outstanding beauty and strength.”

COGConnected gave it 95/100, saying, “It has been a very long time since I played a game as assured, polished, and emotionally affecting as Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2. The first game was impressive, but the sequel brings everything Ninja Theory was trying to do into sharp, unforgettable focus. Senua’s new journey is epic and harrowing, told through cinematic visuals. jaw-dropping graphics and gameplay mechanics that feel at one with the story. It’s a saga of sadness, courage, challenge, and redemption, told by masters of their craft.”

GameSpot gave the title a ‘Fair’ 6, saying, “Hellblade 2 is perhaps the most visually remarkable Xbox title to date, but is ultimately undermined by its emphasis on fidelity over story and gameplay.”

Forbes scored it 7/10, and said, “I enjoyed many parts of Hellblade 2, and there are some environmental/music sequences in particular, one near the beginning, the other nearer to the middle, that are going to stay with me a while due to the absolute crushing, horrifying, intense atmosphere paired with amazing audio. But as a game? Something I enjoyed playing? Generally speaking, no, it wasn’t really for me.”

The Gamer gave it 3 stars, saying, “It’s easy to focus on Hellblade 2′s flaws because they are so surface level. Combat is repetitive and made an unnecessary focal point. The extra characters dilute instead of adding. I’m still not sure what Hellblade thinks it is, or wants to be. But deeper than that, there is some quality worth rooting for – an interesting protagonist powered by a brilliant performance, ingenious use of the environment for exploration and puzzles, a true electric miracle of motion capture unfolding before our eyes.”

GamesRadar gave it a perfect score of 5 stars despite some inconsistent pacing, saying, “Haunting, confrontational, and deeply cathartic all at once, Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 is a stunning feat of video game art. Ninja Theory doesn’t tiptoe around its heavy themes but welcomes them with well-honed empathy, tempered by an even keener creative edge this time around to deliver an unforgettable narrative adventure experience that’s hard to watch, yet harder to turn away from.”

Senua's Saga: Hellblade II Review
Image: Ninja Theory

Eurogamer also gave the game 5 stars, and said, “Hellblade 2 continues Senua’s story with grace, confidence, surprising brutality and thundering conviction.”

NME gave it 3 stars, saying, “Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 is one of the most visually impressive games of its generation and contains gripping performances from both Juergens and O’Reilly. Unfortunately, repetitive combat, lacklustre puzzles, and dull traversal hamper the experience, as does a lack of focus in the wider story.”

Washington Post gave it 2.5 stars, saying, “At $50 and about six to eight hours of play total, Hellblade II is worth a peek if you’re interested in what games could look like in the future. Imagine an Elden Ring that looks like this! Will I live long enough to see it? So I’m grateful Hellblade II exists today to give me a glimpse. I just wish it had a little more to say, and gave us a little more to do.”

Siliconera gave it a 9, saying, “Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II raises the bar of narrative games, as it delivers a cinematic experience with groundbreaking audio and gameplay.”

CGMag awarded it a 7, and said, “Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 starts incredibly strong in the first half, but after certain revelations, the story speeds up to a point where the conclusion feels rushed and half-baked.”

Digital Trends scored it 4 stars, saying, “Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 is a visual stunner for Xbox even if its gameplay isn’t too creative.”

So there you have it, folks. Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 is across the board mostly a success by the numbers, even if it’s got some critics divided on the merits of its gameplay versus the narrative and visual elements. With the game now out in the wild and players worldwide sinking their teeth into the haunting story of Senua, we’re bound to see the players begin to weigh in with their own views very soon.

Have you been playing Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Image: Ninja Theory

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