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Hellblade II reviews roundup: If critics agree on anything, it’s visually impressive

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Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 launched on May 21, with reviews of Ninja Theory’s Xbox Series X and Windows PC exclusive coming in the dame day. Microsoft is looking to the game to drive value to its Xbox Game Pass subscription; it’s why Ninja Theory was among a slew of developers the company acquired in 2018 before turning its attention to even bigger fish like Bethesda Softworks and Activision Blizzard.

Currently, the action-adventure set in 9th century Iceland has a “generally favorable” Metacritic review score of 81. That said, critics have pointed out the game’s comparatively short experience (about 10 hours long) as a major drawback despite Hellblade 2’s unique location and remarkable story.

Here is a roundup of some of Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II’s reviews. The scores are normalized to a 10-point scale:

The Washington Post

Gene Park called Hellblade II “an eye-popping, immersive experience,” that left him wanting more, although that was not necessarily a compliment. “I just wish it had a little more to say, and gave us a little more to do.”  The Post gave it a 6.3 (2.5 out of four stars).

IGN

Writing for IGN, Tristan Ogilvie gave the game an 8, praising its “hardware pushing visuals,” and calling it “another Viking-worthy feast for the senses” that properly carried on the legacy of its 2017 predecessor. “Its combat manages to feel consistently intimidating and immediate despite its mechanical simplicity,” Ogillvie wrote. But the reviewer also noted it took them about six hours to finish the game.

PC Magazine

Jordan Minor of PC Magazine likewise gave the game an 8, praising Melina Jürgens’ portrayal of the deeply troubled Senua in particular. The game’s length was not a drawback in the reviewer’s opinion, calling it a “tightly paced game” that also clocked in around five or six hours.

Game Informer

Game Informer’s Marcus Stewart gave Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II a Game Informer Must-Play badge on the way to a 9 score overall. “I’m pleased Ninja Theory avoided the temptation to blow up this formula into something far bigger than needed,” Stewart wrote. “This isn’t Xbox’s God of War; it’s a better Hellblade.”

Eurogamer

Eurogamer gave Hellblade II a perfect five out of five stars (therefore a 10). “Ninja Theory has not only proven it can read a changing landscape, but that Hellblade and Senua absolutely still deserve a place of prominence within that space,” reviewer Johnny Chiodini wrote., Calling the game “nothing short of phenomenal,” Eurogamer cited its thoughtful, and non-exploitive look at mental illness.

TheGamer

By contrast, TheGamer’s Stacy Henley called Hellblade 2 “confused about who it is, what it wants, and where it’s going. […] Is it even a game, or is it an interactive art piece?” Henley scored the game a 6. Noting that the game has no traditional heads-up display as the player guides the character, Henley said that bold choice falls apart in highly choreographed combat set pieces.

Kotaku

Finally, Kotaku does not score its reviews, but reviewer Claire Jackson was largely praiseworthy in her writeup. “The only way to experience Hellblade II, in my estimation, is to devote as much of your attention and sensory abilities to it as possible,” Jackson said. “Saga is a game that lives to exist on a large screen in a dark room, and you should remove all possible distractions.”

Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 is available with Xbox Game Pass for Xbox Series X and PC, and is $49.99 on its own for either platform.

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