Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, which stars a protagonist afflicted with mental illness, features a permadeath system where the game wipes the save file when players die too many times.
Revealed in Let’s Play videos on YouTube, and mentioned in OnlySP’s review of the game, protagonist Senua succumbs to “corruption” after dying multiple times in platforming sections or from enemies. This feature is detailed in the latter part of the game’s opening moments, with text saying, “The Dark Rot will grow each time you fail. If the rot reaches Senua’s head, her quest is over and all progress will be lost.”
Afterwards, one of the voices from Senua’s head provides further insight regarding the permadeath system: “The hardest battles are fought in the mind. That is what Dillion taught her. With every defeat the dark rot will grow and soon it will take her soul. But, for now at least, she still has control of her mind. And she will fulfill her vow, whatever the cost.”
The permadeath feature fits the themes of Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice as the eponymous protagonist suffers from psychosis, causing her to see and hears hallucinations and delusions.
According to GeekCulturePodcast, the system employs a save file memory wipe, which means gamers will have to start Senua’s journey from the very beginning. Possibly, backing up one’s save files and selecting an easy difficulty setting are some of the ways to dodge the game’s permadeath system. Developer Ninja Theory previously confirmed that Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice has a default auto mode difficulty that scales difficulty based on player performance as well as traditional easy, medium, and hard difficulty options.
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is now available as a digital-only title on PC and PlayStation 4 for $29.99. The game is sold for half the price of AAA games because developer Ninja Theory considers the hack-and-slash game an “Independent AAA” game.