Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Psychosis Simulator: Hellblade - Senua's Sacrifice

In this blog post I want to look at the multi-platform game Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice and how well it captures the feeling of psychosis which mostly many of us bipolar people have experienced.

Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice is a first person game that is a first of its kind in how it unwraps how we endure psychosis.  The developer of the game is Ninja Theory and the game itself has accumulated dozens of awards.  During the development of this game they worked closely together with people who had experienced or were experiencing psychosis and the end product is fantastic. 

The game is set somewhere during the Viking era in a bizarre world and you are a young woman journeying towards saving your dearest love from the clutches of Viking hell.  While you journey you can constantly hear inner voices just as you do in real life psychosis and you have to distinguish symbols which have meaning in them.  The symbols are representative of how when we see "signs" that mean nothing in reality but in psychosis have meaning for us and in the game they similarly unlock your progression in the story..

The game really captures the dark and light moments of psychosis where you see scary images and hear a booming dark voice during dark times and when you experience lighter ecstatic times.  The contrast between emotional states is very accurately represented, so much so that I would not recommend you to play this game if you are recovering from or experiencing psychosis currently because "Yes! It's that realistic". Moreover, at some points of the game you have to sword-fight these possessed Viking men which I assume are a figment of her imagination but these parts are a welcome addition to the continuation of the game.  Here's a video I captured while fighting some of these Vikings.

The game has great meaning for us bipolar people because it is an opportunity to demonstrate to people who are unaware of what psychosis actually is, to step into our shoes for a moment and witness it for themselves.  Indeed it is set in a historic-fantasy setting but this aspect doesn't subtract from its value as a simulation of someone enduring psychosis.  As I mentioned previously the small studio Ninja Theory has picked up many awards for their efforts to show this emotional-state and I can certainly say they have rightfully earned them.     

*Screenshots and Video were taken via my gameplay on the Xbox One

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