Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice leverages the strengths of video games as a medium and delivers an experience that is unlike anything else released this year. It’s a bold game that explores mental health–specifically psychosis–through the lens of a character-action game wrapped in Norse mythology. The game tackles an important and often misunderstood illness, and allows you to better understand it through visual and aural presentation.
Developer Ninja Theory has a long history of developing action games that are fast and fluid in movement while also being mechanically deep and complex, but for Hellblade, the developer scaled this back somewhat. Playing Hellblade can feel rough and sluggish, but this feeds into the mind-state of its main character, Senua. Returning from self-imposed exile, the young Pict warrior grapples with her inner-demons as she attempts to save the soul of her lover, Dillon.
The act of fighting against demonic apparitions feels like a struggle, as Senua summons every ounce of energy in her body just to keep moving forward, one step at a time. And all the while voices in her head pull her in different directions, some guiding her, while others undermine and belittle her. The result is an experience that feels raw, unsettling, as well as frustrating and disempowering. It can be difficult to play but, ultimately, it’s also a unique and enlightening experience.
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard marks a return to form for Capcom, which reconnected with its survival-horror roots to deliver a Resident Evil that is both modern and faithful to the series’ legacy.
The game casts aside the third-person perspective for first-person, and in doing so, ratchets up the nerve-wracking tension throughout the campaign. Crucially, however, it leans on the genre pillars that it both established and popularised; bullets and healing items are in short supply, and enemies require strategy and a steady hand to take down.
From the early moments of breathlessly running around the Baker home, hoping and praying not to cross paths with Jack, the psychotic patriarch of the family, to the nail-biting cat-and-mouse game in Marguerite’s bug-infested cabin, and the intense fight for survival at the end, Resident Evil 7 is edge-of-your-seat gaming at its finest.