Hellblade is an upcoming hack and slash game that explores intriguing territory in Norse mythology. Developed by Ninja Theory, this Viking-inspired title drops gamers into the Scandinavian equivalent of the underworld. Chief of design Tameem Antoniades explained in a recent video diary, “Everyone has heard of Thor and Valhalla, but we were attracted to a different part of the underworld, a place called the ‘land of mist and fog,’ in which sits the hall of the dead, Helheim.”
Much like Ninja Theory’s first development, 2007’s Heavenly Sword, the game will be a Sony exclusive and will put players into the role of a fearsome female warrior. Senua, the game’s protagonist, will embark on a personal journey into the uncharted depths of the underworld.
Rather than designing levels around the game’s story or combat features, the team made Hellblade’s massive world design their top priority. “I wanted [our designer]to be able to start building the world without having to wait for gameplay systems like combat to become ready,” Antoniades said. “I suggested to him that what we should aim to do is to build a world so rich, interesting, and haunting that our players could lose themselves for hours just exploring it.”
To make the game’s design as accurate as possible, the team researched Scandinavian terrain and modeled the world after satellite images. “To get a sense of realism into the map, we started looking at parts of Nordic fields,” said level designer Dan Atwell. “We took the satellite data, brought it back into Unreal [the game’s engine], and used it.”
Running Epic’s newest game engine, Unreal Engine 4, Hellblade’s graphics and backdrops are genuinely jaw-dropping. Screenshots and concept art show highly detailed landscapes and intricately designed characters that look like they came straight from hell. Hellblade is slated for a 2015 release, and we can’t wait to start exploring this brutal land of mist and fog.