The Meta Game in Hellblade Strikes Fear into the Hearts of Gamers
We all thought meta gaming began and ended with Hideo Kojima. We thought wrong; Hellblade deletes your gamesave if you die too many times. How many times is too many? Eight, according to Eurogamer. But how do you know if you’re getting close to that number? The game tells you, via the protagonist Senua’s growing plague on her arm.
Ninja Theory’s game kind of sets up this mechaic and walks players through what happens if they die: early on in the game there’s a fight you can’t win, and Senua’s hand ends up covered in black tendrils.
From then on, each time you die, the higher the black tendrils get on Senua’s arm. If they reach your head, it’s game over forever. Hellblade gives you a second reminder that the fear is real by little cinematics of Senua looking at her arm and seeing the tendrils grow and spread.
Hellblade is all about fear, so why not give players something to be afraid of? Much like Hardcore mode of Diablo 3 (which I recently had the joy of having a seasonal Necromancer who had full ancient gear and was running a Greater Rift 80 and died due to some jank-ass lag, cash me outside about that one), players may play the game differently and have to face their palpable fear and brave a difficult spot in the game in order to move on. Bravo to Ninja Theory to give us all something to think about.