For one, the game developers like to use the term "psychosis" to describe Senua's mental illness. The problem is psychosis, by definition, can mean anything from trivialities like a child's imaginary friend or night terrors to dire issues such as schizophrenia or hypothyroidism. Each classification has it's own particular set of symptoms and subcategories. Schizophrenia, for example, has five separate subtypes including "paranoid," "disorganized" and "catatonic," each of which has its own rigorously defined set of symptoms. I get the impression that the developers of Hellblade (at least initially) simply read a bunch of articles about what it's like to experience various kinds of psychosis and thought, "Hey, this is creepy and interesting. We should totally make a game about this sort of thing!" The problem is, it becomes a kind of insanity blender that doesn't have much to do with real mental health issues. Of course, that's fine if the source of the madness is supernatural in nature, say in Silent Hill or Call of Cthulhu. However, the devs have taken great pains to make the game feel authentic. They've gone so far as to bring on two Cambridge professors (one a historian and the other a psychologist) as consultants. Even Senua's character model has been meticulously detailed all the way down to her fingerprints.
|Hallucinations are influenced by personal experiences,|
but have shared aspects between individuals as well.
|Close your right eye and focus your left eye on the black spot. |
At a viewing distance of about 6 to 8 inches from your monitor
the "+" symbol should vanish from view.
What tastes or smells good to one person might be foul and disgusting to another depending on how each individual's brain interprets olfactory data. Even eyesight has this to a degree. The human brain is constantly trying to apply patterns to visual data and fill in the blanks. A really easy way to demonstrate this is with the blind spots we all have due to the way our eyeballs connect to the optic nerve. The reason you don't have a blank patch in each eye's cone of vision is because your brain automatically compensates by guessing what's there. In the case of someone suffering from dementia, they are increasingly unable to apply patterns leading to a decline in cognitive function. Meanwhile a schizophrenic applies patterns haphazardly resulting in wildly incorrect interpretations of external stimuli. Personally, I'm curious to see what the game developers do with this sort of phenomenon in terms of puzzles and atmosphere - ditto for 3D sound and the controller rumble.
Sadly, story-wise I don't things are going to end well for Senua. Effective antipsychotic medicines didn't exist until the 1950s. Worse yet throughout most of human history the extremely mentally unwell were subjected to "treatments" such as bloodletting, trepanning and a variety of trials by ordeal involving water. None of this helped, and in most cases did considerable harm. Regardless, fingers crossed that this turns out to be a psychological masterpiece (albeit inevitably tragic in nature). If the developer's track record is anything to go by it's unlikely to be a very long game. My guess is six hours tops. That might be good thing though all things considered. I just hope the time spent in her messed up head feels worth it.