Announced at August’s Gamescom 2014, Hellblade is the latest title from UK developers Ninja Theory. Creators of Heavenly Sword, Devil May Cry reboot DmC and Enslaved: Odyssey To The West, the Cambridge-based game studio is touting its new title as an ‘Independent AAA’ release, characterised by ‘creative spirit… without letting go of the stunning production values [Ninja Theory] are known for’. Collated below are the latest details of the upcoming game including release date rumours, gameplay and story features, screenshots and trailers.
Hellblade release date information and platform details
Currently under production by a 12-person team, the game is as yet exclusive to PS4, with studio sources citing the inherent time and budget constraints accompanying independent development as limiting factors. However, a wider release on Xbox and PC has not been ruled out, and could still be announced at a later date.
Hellblade’s independent nature will also affect the game in other ways; it is currently set to be a digital-only release, with a lower price point offsetting the game’s comparatively short length. Studio bosses have thus far been tight-lipped about a potential release date, preferring to keep it under wraps in order to avoid disappointment should the development cycle be hit by any unexpected delays.
Hellblade: Gameplay, story & features
Very little has been confirmed so far about the game’s story. Dominic Matthews, the ‘Product Development Ninja’ at the studio, has revealed that the story and character are based predominantly on Celtic mythology, with the teaser trailer showcasing a heavy focus on runic iconography, possibly indicating some form of magic-based gameplay elements.
The Celtic influences are coupled with Ninja Theory’s established Japanese visual aesthetic, with lead character Senua bearing a striking resemblance to Heavenly Sword protagonist Nariko, as well as drawing on elements from the design of Enslaved’s Monkey.
While the thematic and visual links between the two titles prompted many to theorise that Hellblade will be a spiritual successor or even a direct sequel to Heavenly Sword, Matthews confirmed that ‘it’s a brand new IP… It’s not tied to Heavenly Sword at all’.
Despite the similarities between the two names, Matthews has dismissed rumours of an intentional connection; ‘we like swords. And we like hell. It’s more that’.
Though not much is known about the gameplay, developers have promised that ‘if you like Heavenly Sword, like Enslaved, and like what we did, then the aim is you’ll like this, too’, indicating that the game will be an example of the practiced hack-and-slash fare that Ninja Theory is known for, with the combat described as ‘brutal and uncompromising’.
Unusually for a major release, the studio plans to be ‘completely open’ regarding development, with concept art, screenshots and dev diaries to be released periodically on hellblade.com. This ‘warts and all’ approach means that it will be possible to gain a much better idea of the game’s progress during production, as well as how the finished title is likely to look and feel on release. It also means that we can update you with the latest information from the developers as and when it breaks.