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Feature: Forget Hellblade’s permadeath, games lie to us all the time, and it’s good when they do

Hellblade screenshots

This article has some mild to severe spoilers for the following games: Gone Home; Knights of the Old Republic; Heavy Rain; Spec Ops: The Line; Call of Duty: Black Ops II; The Beginner’s Guide; Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors; Frog Fractions; and Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice.

A couple of weeks ago, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice was released, and as the review embargo broke people shared the information that it had a mechanic whereby, if you died too often, Senua would not be able to continue and ‘all progress will be lost’, which was interpreted as meaning the game would wipe your save file. This was apparently a huge deal to some people. Words like ‘anti-consumer’ were thrown around. I didn’t quite understand, since that was basically how games worked originally anyway, and when something like Dark Souls wipes away a load of your progress and reduces your max HP every time you die it isn’t being ‘anti-consumer’ but ‘the best thing ever, git gud you scrub.’ 

Then it turned out that, in fact, that probably doesn’t happen in Hellblade, and it only says that to scare you and take the threat that Senua feels seriously, and people were angry about that as well, for some reason. But I think that the fact it was a lie makes it better, or at least confirms Ninja Theory is very smart in how it lied to us.

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