Hellblade 2: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

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Much Better Graphics, But Worse Combat & Puzzles!

Story Highlight
  • Hellblade 2 has just been launched, and its release was underwhelming on Steam.
  • It offers less gameplay than its predecessor, and the combat has also been downgraded.
  • While the graphics are undoubtedly impressive, the gameplay is a complete letdown.

Those who played Hellblade eagerly awaited its sequel’s release. The game didn’t have much hype behind it, but those invested in the franchise wanted to know what lay ahead for Senua.

I was one of those people. The first game was an enjoyable experience for me, but there were some things that I didn’t like, and I hoped to see those improved in the sequel. After playing the sequel and ending it in a mere six hours, I was left with nothing but disappointment.

This makes me wonder: is Hellblade 2 a worthy sequel to its predecessor?

Why it matters: Hellblade 2 was advertised for several years before it finally launched as one of this year’s biggest Xbox exclusives.

Photorealism in Senua's Saga: Hellblade 2
Hellblade 2 Is Easily One of the Best-Looking Games In The Industry Right Now | Image Source: Tech4Gamers

Superior Graphics, Inferior Gameplay

Hellblade 2 is arguably the best-looking game in the industry right now. It is a visual feast that allows Senua and her surroundings to come alive, giving you an experience rarely seen in other titles.

However, this may be all this release has to offer. Hellblade’s storytelling was always high-quality, and the sequel’s being in the same league isn’t surprising at all. As far as I’m concerned, the sequel’s strengths end in its narrative and visuals.

I believe in the gameplay-first approach, which is something Nintendo understands all too well. This is probably why I found the second game disappointing.

Hellblade 2 is disappointing
byu/A_Passer_by0 inXboxGamePass

As long as the gameplay is fun, you can enjoy any type of game. In Hellblade 2, there was barely anything to play, something that critics have also noted. I don’t understand how Ninja Theory took a step back compared to the original’s gameplay.

Back then, everyone acknowledged that gameplay took the backseat, but we gave Ninja Theory a pass because the team wasn’t operating on a big AAA budget. This time around, I expected the studio to double down on everything, including gameplay.

However, the combat has been drastically downgraded. The parry window is shorter now and feels less satisfying. Dodging is clunky, and combat quickly becomes old due to its scripted nature.

I hate to say it, but the experience almost feels like watching a movie, as there is just so little player control. Holding forward on the stick doesn’t cut it for me since the game may as well play it by itself at that point.

All in all, I found less than 3 hours of total gameplay in my first run of Hellblade 2. Even with its lower price, this is simply unacceptable to me.

Inferior Combat Hellblade 2
The Combat in Hellblade 2 Is Inferior Compared To Its Predecessor | Image By Tech4Gamers

Where Are The Mind-Blowing Puzzles?

As said earlier, the overall experience is very similar to that of a movie. The two black bars on the screen add to the presentation, but they make it abundantly clear that Ninja Theory prioritized presentation above everything else.

This, unfortunately, means that another core element of the first game was harmed in the sequel. In Hellblade, there were a couple of puzzles that took me a good 10-15 minutes to solve.

I agree that this could be considered annoying, but puzzles were a huge part of the experience. Hellblade 2, on the other hand, offers watered-down and much simpler puzzles.

The Level Design Doesn’t Seem To Have Improved Even A Bit | Image By Tech4Gamers

Is It A Worthy Sequel?

I don’t believe Hellblade 2 is a worthy sequel. Sure, it is superior visually, but other than that, I didn’t find it that great. The storytelling was better in the previous game since many events unfolded as we challenged the literal gods.

I expected so much to be improved in the sequel, but the developers somehow made several elements even worse. For instance, skipping cutscenes is still impossible, meaning you’ll be forced to sit through the same scenes on a second run.

So, if you are wondering whether to play this game, I recommend trying it on Game Pass. This seems like the best option; you can always purchase it later. I don’t think I’m the only one disappointed.

If you look at Steam’s numbers, Hellblade 2 has fallen behind its own predecessor, Hi-Fi Rush, and even the abysmal Redfall in terms of concurrent player counts. The visuals are its sole saving grace, but the presentation can only get you so far.

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