Why Hellblade is Challenging for One Player With Psychosis

Content notice: Discussion of self-harm and suicide. Spoilers for Hellblade.

When you first launch Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, the game warns you that its portrayal of psychosis may be disturbing to some players, including those who’ve had similar experiences. Most players can ignore that — only about 3 percent of us will experience psychotic disorders in our lifetimes — but for some players, it’s a matter of genuine concern.

Video essayist Leonardo Da Sidci shares a rare and powerful glimpse into what it’s like to play Hellblade as someone with psychosis. Ninja Theory went to great lengths to ensure their portrayal of Senua’s symptoms was true to the lived experience of voice hearers and people with psychosis, which makes it all the harder for someone who already has those issues to play.

For Sid, Hellblade is ultimately a game with some problems, but one that might give players insight into his struggles, that might help players find some empathy for people rarely receive it. With the video, he’s doing even more to make that happen.

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