DmC Dev's Hellblade Gets New Gameplay Trailer, Details on Key Themes

Studio is exploring mental health and psychosis with help of experts.

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Ninja Theory, developer of Heavenly Sword, Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, and DmC: Devil May Cry, has released a new trailer for Hellblade, its upcoming third-person action game.

Along with the trailer, which you can watch below, Ninja Theory has also discussed some of the themes at the heart of the game.

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"Mental health and psychosis are the key themes explored in Hellblade," the studio said.

In order to accurately and authentically explore these themes, the studio is working closely with Paul Fletcher, University of Cambridge's professor of health and neuroscience. Ninja Theory is also consulting with people who have an experience of mental health difficulties.

"True understanding of mental health is not simply about the books, lectures, or verbal descriptions but from deeper engagement on all levels," said Fletcher.

"Working with Ninja Theory has shown me the potential that gaming has for sharing in a character's experiences and engendering empathy in ways that go well beyond those offered by simple academic descriptions. Maybe this approach will contribute powerful new ways of challenging stigma."

Tameem Antoniades, Ninja Theory's chief creative officer, added that the studio is "pursuing creative independence in order to explore a compelling subject matter and gaming experiences that would not be possible under the current retail model."

"In movie terms," he continued, "this would be a quality independent film, not a Hollywood blockbuster. Digital self-publishing means that we can offer a smaller, but high-quality game at around half the price of retail games."

Ninja Theory has also revealed that the project is supported by the Wellcome Trust, a charitable foundation aimed at improving the understanding of science and health.

Despite its similar name, Hellblade is not connected to previous PlayStation 3 exclusive Heavenly Sword.

"It's a brand-new IP. Senua is a new character," said Dominic Matthews, product development manager at the studio. "It's not tied to Heavenly Sword at all. I saw someone describe the name as someone just putting Heavenly Sword into Thesaurus.com and going 'Oh, it's Hellblade.'"

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Click image to view in full screen

"It's not something where we've gone, 'Yeah, let's make people think it is this.' We really like Heavenly Sword. We loved making that game. So it's actually more just we like making female protagonists that look in a certain style. And we like swords. And we like hell. It's more that."

The studio has said Hellblade will deliver "ninja-class melee gameplay, strong character stories, and a unique art vision"--it was easy to assume this was, at the very least, a spiritual successor to Heavenly Sword. But even that isn't the case.

Sony has secured Hellblade as a timed PS4 exclusive. However, the game is also in development for PC.

Ninja Theory has also released a new developer diary, discussing the main character, Senua, and the game's approach to exploring mental health.

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