This week, Ninja Theory has released a new video detailing Hellblade: Sanua’s Sacrfiaces revisited combat mechanics. In this new video (below), the developer highlights some of the aspects of designing Sanua’s combat situation, as well detailing the player strategies in overcoming her situations.
Reflecting back on their previous trailer, chief of design Tameem Antoniades describes the scene as the teams main “focus point” in designing the overall gameplay. Hoping to replicate that same tone within the combat mechanics, senior designer Juan Fernandez said that it was important for the developers to make players “feel vulnerable”, and that they weren’t coming into Hellblade as “some kind of superhero”.
Cause she’s physically weaker, she needs to rely on speed and technical ability to overcome her enemies. Light, heavy and melee attacks, along with blocking and evading are our core abilities. understanding the nuance of these and how they flow between each other gives you a sweet advantage during combat”
– Juan Fernandez, Hellblade Development Diary 23
Compare this to their previous updates, it would seem that Ninja Theory is really trying to knuckle down on the overall gameplay for Hellblade. Back in April, the developer had previously reported some issues regarding their previous combat system. With their shift to directional combat, issues with fighting animations and tackling multiple opponents was something that the developer had previously struggled with.
Like so many areas of game development, promising paths can lead to dead ends. And in this case it was becoming clear that directional combat was limiting gameplay”
– Dominic Matthews, Hellblade Development Diary 22
After taking Fernandez on board as senior programmer, this eventually led to Team Ninjas improved combat system. With a brand new perspective, this new system aimed to encourage players in making practical choices, rather than memorizing a series of combos.
But with a new gameplay system in place, this meant that Team Ninja needed some new animations. As such, Team Ninja reached out to professional martial artist and stunt performer Chloe Bruce, who provided the developer a wide array of new moves for the main character. Chloe is regarded for her roles as a stunt double in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Kick-Ass 2, and the upcoming Assassin’s Creed movie.
In addition to this, stunt performer Cali Nelle also assisted in providing some new enemy animations. Cali is also regarded for his in Kingsman, Terminator Genisys, and the upcoming Assassin’s Creed movie.
With the help of Chloe, we proved that we could make combat work Senua. But we still needed to find someone to represent all of the enemies within the main game. And we found that with Cali Nelle.” – Tameem Antoniades, Hellblade Development Diary 22
Within this video update, the developer also highlighted Hellblade’s design of communicating combat situations, without the use of on an on-screen HUD. With the use of visual cues, Antoniades and the team took inspiration from action movies such as The Raid, and Crouching Tiger.
The story of Hellblade is centered on Sanua, a Celtic warrior, who has been left suffering from psychotic hallucinations, anxiety and severe depression after a great viking war. Wishing to escape her trauma, Sanua is forced to embark on a quest within her own mind, and battle it out against demons manifested by her own insanity.
Announced two years ago at Gamescon and teased last years at E3, Hellblade has undergone some significant improvements since the 2015 E3 trailer. Through new body designs, environmental effects, changes in character animations, and even a new name, at this point the development of Hellblade appears to be primarily focused on establishing the dark visual aesthetics and tone.
Hellblade is the first game by Ninja Theory to be developed independently. This is in part thanks to donations from Wellcome Trust, a global charity organization dedicated to improving health by promoting education.
Hellblade has not received a release date but is expected to launch later in 2016 on PlayStation 4 and PC.
What do you think of these new updates? Is Hellblade shaping to be a title that you’d be interested in playing? Let us know in the comments below!