By Simon Moore on June 16, 2015 at 8:36am
Cambridge, UK based independent games developer Ninja Theory have announced that they will be debuting a game where mental health and psychosis are the key themes. Inspired by historical events, “Hellblade” tells the story of Senua, a Celtic warrior who is left traumatized by a Viking invasion. The game is a third-person action title, developed for PlayStation 4 and PC and will follow Senua’s journey into a vision of Hell that is the manifestation of her own mental illness.
In order to ensure a sensitive and accurate portrayal of the subject, Ninja Theory have been working closely with Psychiatrist and Professor of Health and Neuroscience from the University of Cambridge, Paul Fletcher, as well as arranging to consult with people who have experience of mental health difficulties.
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. Professor of Health and Neuroscience, Paul Fletcher
“Hellblade” is being developed by a small team of 15 people under a development model Ninja Theory call Independent AAA. This approach sees the game being created with all the creative freedom of indie development but with the production values of AAA blockbuster games.
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. Chief Creative Director at Ninja Theory - Tameem Antoniades
From the preview footage and the renders available to the public, “Hellblade” certainly does not appear as though it has come from a small developer. Ninja Theory have given it the polish and shine that you would expect from any major title. Coupled with a unique take on a sensitive subject they could very well be on their way to delivering a surprise hit.