Should You Play Hellblade 1 Before Playing Hellblade 2?

Senua, Hellblade Protagonist
Image Credit: Xbox Game Studios.

In many ways, tales of Norse mythology present themselves with familiar backstories the audience can rely on. Names like Odin and Thor immediately come to mind, as do events like Ragnarok and Loki’s punishment. However, some Norse enthusiasts might have yet to learn of the goddess Senuna, introduced as Senua in the Hellblade series.

Senua is the main protagonist of Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice and its 2024 sequel, Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2. Digressing from the minimal repetition, some players wonder if they should check out the first Hellblade before playing the sequel.

Should You Play Hellblade 1 Before Playing Hellblade 2?

Hellblade 2 Senua's Saga Trailer
Image Credit: Xbox Game Studios.

Yes, you should absolutely play Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice before diving into the sequel, Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2. Both games feature the titular female protagonist undergoing fits of psychosis while exploring dangerous environments. Not only does she combat a mental disorder, but the Pict warrior also fights against certain notable foes like Surtr and Valravn. This leads to her battle with Hela as she attempts to resurrect her lover, Dillion.

Essentially, Hellblade is a story of someone experiencing a debilitating mental illness as she fights to slay Hela. It’s an epic effort to bring back her dead lover, which brings the interpretation of what her “sacrifice” is in the game. We believe it’s her ongoing decision to complete her quest despite consistently confronting her demons, though this is merely a personal perspective.

The Mystery of Gramr

Giant Enemy Combat in Hellblade 2
Image Credit: Xbox Game Studios.

There’s also the case of the sword the gramr Senua wields in Hellblade. It isn’t necessarily a blade of hell, yet Druth explains that its purpose is to kill a god. Senua uses it to kill Hela at the end of Hellblade, yet it somehow disappears during the final cutscene. Is gramr gone? Was its sole purpose to kill Hela and no other god? Only the sequel could unveil details about this mystery.

With this in mind, Hellblade 2 continues Senua’s story, but now with the “saga” in the title. Judging by the trailers and Ninja Theory’s confirmation of the sequel’s Iceland setting, Senua is in a much different place. Though she still wrestles with her mental disorder, she’s not afraid to be in the company of others.

How Long is Senua’s Sacrifice?

If you’re eager to explore the Hellblade series quickly, you can walk in knowing the journey is a bit short. Players can finish Senua’s Sacrifice in an average playthrough time of 7-8 hours. Of course, more is accounted for when you check out every dark corner in Ninja Theory’s haunting world. Senua’s Saga is aiming for the same amount, more or less, so you can expect to complete these stories within a brief period.

How Disturbing is Hellblade?

Female Protagonist Senua and Mental Health in Hellblade
Image Credit: Xbox Game Studios.

Ninja Theory worked with mental health experts to correctly translate a person undergoing psychosis for the Hellblade series. Senua’s Sacrifice implements many disturbing images that may distress some players. In addition to psychosis, the protagonist also exhibits symptoms of depression and anxiety, which are unfortunately inflated by her lover’s death. In other words, Hellblade may be triggering for specific audiences. This can be incredibly evocative for individuals with nyctophobia, for Senua must delve into dark spaces to come out into the light.

This isn’t to deter potential players from installing the game and participating in Senua’s quest. The original game makes a fantastic effort to open a discussion about mental health in video games. Not many games do, and with a sincere attempt at that.


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Written by C Anthony Rivera

Writer from Chicago, occasionally appears as a background actor in film and TV. Always looking for new places to eat pizza.

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