Playing through Hellblade II twice is essential for unpacking the themes

Narrative action-adventure game Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II released on May 21, 2024 on PC and Xbox. It contains a focused story about a wide range of emotional and social themes that are fascinating to process in your mind.

Read more: Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II: The Kotaku Judgement

The challenge, for me, of Senua’s Saga doesn’t succeed so much in the puzzles or combat (although the battle can be fun), but rather is found in understanding the ebb and flow of Senua’s journey through Iceland and the people she meets. It’s the density of text and dialogue that awaits you to unpack, not the skill trees and reaction-based timing challenges.

And given its relatively short runtime compared to other games, it’s perfect for multiple playthroughs to relive key moments, or understand the meaning of how the game begins and ends, and What are exactly the challenges that Senua must overcome in this new chapter.

The bonus story is reason enough to play Hellblade II several times

After reaching the end of Senua’s… er, saga, you’ll unlock the narration of ‘The Others’, the three NPCs who accompany Senua on her journey. They narrate parts of the game based on the chapters you are in, starting with Viking slave, Thorgestr.

Read more: Hellblade II Tips for mastering the game’s deep combat

Hellblade II is a game about many things, but it’s mainly about the characters Senua meets (with Thorgestr perhaps being the most changed by his journey with Senua). Gaining insight into how these characters view Senua and their world is a really great way to understand the different nuances and emotional contours of this game.

For example, Astridr, the lonely and fiercely protective leader Senua encounters in the Bardarvik chapter, talks about her family in a way that sheds more light on who she is. Sure, she talks to Senua a bit about her life before things got worse, but hearing it directly from her through stories fleshes out her story even more.

As I’ve been playing around with the “Others” narration (which you can choose at the start of a new game or at any time in the game’s audio settings after completing the story), I’ve almost started wondering if this is the way Senua’s Saga should have been. It’s true that the main narrator creates a nice sense of coherence with the first game, but given how much the Furies (the voices Senua hears in her head) contribute to the regular gameplay, essentially narrating and commenting on what’s going on in the hand, while hearing other characters really makes the experience a little more narratively dynamic.

Read more: How to make the most of it Hellblade II‘Graphics on PC

Discovering all the unlockable ‘loresingr’ items will unlock Druth, Senua’s spiritual companion from 2017. Senua’s sacrifice.

A spoiler warning shows a crossed out eye.

Senua’s Saga is a compact story that becomes clearer the second time around

A lot happens inside Senua’s Saga. And on my second playthrough, especially during the opening battle with Thorgestr, I was struck by what Senua sees in him and ultimately decides to do after the battle – especially the similarities between how this battle ends and how the game’s final boss battle ends. . Flash forward to the walk to Freyslaug, and there were lines that stood out to me more this time. Here’s one in particular:

Thorgeststr: Do you see these graves? This is how we honor our dead. There will be no one to bury you.

Senua: You have not honored these graves. What happened?

Thorgeststr: I told you…Draugar. They won’t just kill you. It’s much worse. It’s what they do next. They… You still have a chance to save your life if you stop now.

Senua: Is it my life you’re trying to save?

This exchange takes place after Thorgestr says how much he wishes Senua would have drowned when the ships crashed and how he plans to kill her after he gets free from her. Yet here she highlights the fact that there is a part of him that worries for her own safety, and speaks to his humanity buried beneath his blind devotion to his father and short-sighted perspectives.

Read more: Hellblade 2 Studio is reportedly already working on its next game

So much of it Senua’s Saga is about changes in perspective, different ways of seeing ‘reality’, that a sentence like this, given where the story is going, carries so much weight. There are many more examples like this Saga which, to me at least, become clearer on a second playthrough.

If you haven’t already, consider using subtitles on subsequent playthroughs

Poison: Ninja Theory / Claire Jackson / Kotaku

During my second playthrough, I found that subtitles are a pretty effective way to focus on what individual characters are saying to each other. Senua’s “Furies” constantly intervene, which is distracting. I guess that’s the point, but you do need to have actual lines of dialogue to read (the Furies’ lines are displayed on the appropriate sides of the screen to mimic the experience of hearing them on both sides of you) can help you focus a bit on exchanges as highlighted above.

Senua’s Saga is a journey of complex emotions and events, many of which take on new tone and meaning when revisited. Whether you feel like playing Hellblade II again immediately after you hit the credits, or after letting it exist in your mind for a while, the second time is definitely worth it if you want to enjoy everything this game has to offer.


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