Ninja Theory is pleading innocence, but Hellblade’s name has got to be some kind of hint, right? While the British developer made Enslaved: Odyssey to the West and DmC: Devil May Cry, it’ll probably be best known by readers of this website for Heavenly Sword – a PlayStation 3 exclusive that shares a name so similar to its latest PlayStation 4 project that it’s almost uncanny.
And that’s not the only similarity: lead character Senua looks almost identical to Kai, the adopted sister of protagonist Nariko from its 2007 action game. So, what gives? “It's not tied to Heavenly Sword at all,” stressed Ninja Theory’s Dominic Matthews in an interview with Eurogamer.net. “It's a brand new intellectual property.” Sure.
He continued: “I saw someone describe the name as someone just putting Heavenly Sword into Thesaurus.com and going, ‘Oh, it's Hellblade.’ It's not something where we've gone, ‘Yeah, let's make people think that it’s this.’ We really like Heavenly Sword. So, it's actually more just we like making female protagonists that look in a certain style. And we like swords. And we like hell. It's more that.”
Matthews continued that it’s not even a spiritual successor to Heavenly Sword, as that hints at some kind of narrative link, which isn’t present here. “It's a brand new game. It's [got] brand new characters. It's a brand new world. It's not linked at all. But if you like Heavenly Sword, like Enslaved, and like what we did, then the aim is that you'll like this, too." Then we’re on board.
But what is the game? Well, the developer’s keeping somewhat schtum for now, but it’s based upon Celtic myth – Ninja Theory sure knows how to speak our language – and will focus on protagonist Senua’s personal journey. Expect the organisation’s standard fare: fancy cut-scenes, gorgeous art work, and some seriously swift combat.
And you’ll be able to experience it all on the PS4 first, but don’t expect to be playing soon, as the game’s only been in production for four months. “We wanted to announce it early so that we can take people through development as we go through it," Matthews explained. Expect more PlayStation Blog posts than you can shake a sword at, then.
While we didn’t really see much, this was one of Gamescom’s biggest highlights for us; Ninja Theory may be a bit of a divisive developer among message board circles, but we’ve honestly always enjoyed the studio’s flashy output. It’s also worth mentioning that this is being self-published by the Cambridge-based company. See, indie can be cool, can’t it?