Senua’s Saga Hellblade 2 review: perfect but padded

Key takeaways

  • Senua’s Saga emphasizes empathy over revenge, challenging players to understand and forgive rather than attack.
  • The game’s powerful narrative is enhanced by unique audio design, immersing players in the mind of Senua.
  • Despite its strengths, Hellblade 2 falls short with repetitive combat and lackluster puzzles, hampering its impact.

The past is a promise, not a prison. This line is at the heart of the Senua saga, which begins with revenge but evolves into a story of empathy. Like its predecessor, it’s a character study that draws you into Senua’s headspace and maintains her grip even as it becomes uncomfortable. The commitment to depicting Senua, with all her strengths and flaws, succeeds largely because it is a game. While it makes full use of the gaming medium, Hellblade 2 also adjusts its pacing to be more recognizable as a traditional game. It’s not a long game. However, if it had committed to removing all the unnecessary elements around the main themes, they would have shined even more.


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Drawing heavily on Norse mythology and interwoven elements of psychosis, Senua’s Saga cleverly manipulates your perception of reality. You can never be fully sure what is real and what is just a manifestation of Senua’s spirit. I appreciate when games strive to be more than just fun, and Hellblade 2 certainly makes that effort. In many ways it managed to evoke powerful emotions in me without relying solely on fun, but it still ran into some pitfalls that I had hoped the developers would have ironed out in the first game. I appreciate honestly enjoy my time with this game, warts and all, but I can’t see myself playing it again. I experienced it and it will stay with me. Playing it again wouldn’t make its positives shine as much and would highlight its flaws even more.

Senua's saga

The Saga of Senua: Hellblade 2



  • Takes you deep into Senua’s mind
  • The visual and audio presentation is incredible
  • Performances and animation express every detail
  • Uplifting message about living with mental illness
The inconvenients

  • Puzzles make it feel like tedious work and slow down the pace
  • Too many fights

Pricing and availability

Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 is available now for $50 on Xbox and Steam. Released on May 21, 2024, it is a third-person adventure game that dives deep into themes of empathy and understanding.

The Saga of Senua: Hellblade 2

Release date
May 21, 2024

Third-person adventure

Ninja theory

At peace with the Furies

love is the light

Senua's Saga: Hellblade 2 Review

The Saga of Senua / Pocket-lint

Senua’s saga begins with a quest for revenge against the group that took and killed her people, but this goal is almost immediately subverted. When she arrives on their land, she quickly learns that they are not evil for the sake of evil. After the events of the first game, giants began appearing in their world and pushing everyone to the brink of extinction. Their solution, which not everyone agreed with, was to sacrifice others to the giants to protect their own. If Senua manages to stop the giants, who are believed to be invincible, then the sacrifices will stop.

Each chapter of Senua’s Saga is a lesson in empathy. First, Senua learns to sympathize with the slavers, but later with each giant as well. Defeating giants is not done through power or anger, but through understanding, love and forgiveness. It’s a rare idea for a game to put the power in love, not hate, and it all comes down to Senua herself accepting herself. The voices in her head still speak to her, but she doesn’t let them control or define her. They will doubt, praise, harass, encourage and insult her, but Senua shows that she is in control.

The story here is neither long nor epic, but is meant to remain intimate with a strong focus on Senua and a small cast. Because the game wraps you so tightly in Senua’s mind, you’re never quite sure how much of what you’re seeing is real and how much is her mind’s creation. The sections where reality changes and the visuals can be more experimental and break logical sense are some of the strongest in the game. Of course, I can’t ignore the masterful audio design which plays an even bigger role than the visuals in immersing you not in the world, but in Senua herself. Playing this game with 3D audio compatible headphones is a prerequisite. Hearing voices whispering as if they were right next to your ear, or the sound of something behind you from left to right in the darkness of a cave, that’s how the game is supposed to be played.


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Diminishing returns

Senua's Saga: Hellblade 2 Review

The Saga of Senua / Pocket-lint

Almost as much as the gaming medium elevates the Senua saga, it is also held back by these conventions. Pacing becomes an issue after the first few hours, when more combat and puzzles appear.

The lackluster puzzles of the first game, which require you to find specific symbols in the environment to progress, return. There aren’t many of them, but they’re a tedious exercise from the start and don’t feel thematically appropriate or satisfying to resolve. There is a second type of puzzle that eventually merges with the first, but this only artificially lengthens the time it takes to solve them. If Senua had a faster movement speed this might have been mitigated somewhat, but the tasks themselves never seemed like more than tedious slog.

The fight is the greatest tragedy of the Senua saga. The first meetings completely absorbed me. The lack of HUD, simple controls and brutality of it felt fast and viscerally real. Combat only took place against one or two enemies one after the other and seemed realistically exhausting. This feeling faded as more and more fights appeared, not only in frequency but in the number of enemies thrown at you per encounter. Because the game is focused entirely on one-on-one combat, it becomes a bit unbelievable that Senua can not only fight so many enemies in a single fight, but also how convenient it is not to. attack more than one at a time.

What you’ll feel most is that as much as the team pushes the narrative and presentation, the gameplay never evolves. The puzzles could be remixed slightly and a different enemy type could be introduced, but your tools for solving both game types don’t change between the opening hours and the conclusion. This isn’t a bad thing in isolation, but it gets annoying when repeated so often.


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Should you try Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2?

A thrilling saga mired in padding

Senua’s Saga is a thoughtful and honest portrait of life with psychosis. It highlights the good and the bad without denigrating the public or wrongly viewing mental health as something that needs to be “fixed.” The narrative is no longer than it should be, but is interrupted by puzzles that neither challenge the player nor reveal more about the character. The combat, although initially striking in its brutality, never evolves and cannot remain impactful throughout its duration. This is a game with a message that I think everyone could benefit from, but the path forward isn’t as smooth as it could be.

Senua's saga

The Saga of Senua: Hellblade 2