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Hellblade: Come for the journey, stay for the photo mode


According to Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice developer, Ninja Theory, you need about eight hours to finish the game. I am currently at thirteen hours, and on my way to see a god about a soul. The reason I'll probably spend double the time to finish the game is because I came for the journey, but I'm staying for the photo mode.

I promise my review will happen…as soon as the game stops surprising me with beautiful vistas, breathtaking moments, and exquisite scenes. It's not all sweet and pretty to look at in Senua's Hellblade. The toughest moments to capture are during combat, and you'll want some action shots as these brutal scenes hold its own magic.

Through Hellblade's Photo Mode you'll discover a world within a world. You'll happen upon moments that most people will not even know exists in the game – If you take the time to stop a while and look. 

Let me tell you about a few such moments; I'll try to give as little away about the game as possible.

The first one happened during a scene where Senua was slain by a boss. She was on the floor, panting, trying to get back up, but too tired. In this scene, you can hear and see through the movement of her body that something was pushing, prodding, poking her … The camera angle was only focused on her face and shoulders, with everything around her drenched in total darkness. I decided to hit Photo Mode (Home on PC) to capture her exhausted face. One of the features in Photo Mode allows you to move the camera angle, as well as zoom in or out. I zoomed out as far as possible and then I saw it … a hideous monster sitting on top of Senua. I don't have the words to describe that moment as shock and fear gripped me. He wasn't part of the normal gameplay; you can only see him if you use Photo Mode and zoom out.

I had a few moments like those when enemies were hidden, and I just happened to capture that precise moment when they appeared, but I could only see that when I changed my view via Photo Mode. You can check out some of those moments in the screenshot video below. Believe me, it's very hard to use Photo Mode properly during combat, because it can be quite the challenge, but more about that dance of death in my review.

Taling about enemies and combat, here's some of my attempts whilst in combat. You'll also notice a few examples of the same moment, captured with different settings, as well as some of those hidden moments you can discover. Bear in mind these are not my best screens, as well, I was fighting a few demons and a boss while trying to play 'photographer.'

In the last screenshot video, I demonstrate how the same moment can be manipulated to look different by making use of the tools in Photo Mode. You can change the angle, distance, focus, colour, depth, and lots more by playing around with the different settings. There are seven sections in Photo Mode:

  1. Movement
  2. Framing
  3. Visibility
  4. Focus
  5. Grading
  6. Vignette
  7. Effects

It's very easy to use; all you need to do is to play around with the settings until the moment captures what you feel it should. The only section I want to highlight is number four; Focus. You'll find that a lot of times when you hit the Photo Mode button, that the captured image doesn't at first appear to look like anything you'll be able to use. Before you discard the image, go to focus and tweak the settings to see if it gives you a clearer picture. All the sections have different slider bars or effects, so don't stop at the first one that looks pretty, browse through the sections and play around. Lastly, don't forget to take the actual screenshot once you're done making it into something … more.

I don't want to give away anything about the actual game, that'll be in my review. But I can tell you this, Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice is a work of art in every single aspect.

Senua is most definitely now my favourite video game character.

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Han Cilliers

Han Cilliers

Lola puts the cobalt back in all things blue. An active, but odd master of the unorthodox, with more than three decades of sore thumbs under her belt. Oh cat! Writer at Glitched Africa
Han Cilliers