Ninja Theory’s Hellblade to Explore Stigma Surrounding Mental Health

Protagonist descends into her own version of Hell after Viking invasion.

Ninja Theory has released the first gameplay trailer for its upcoming game Hellblade, as well as a developer diary which reveals the game's focus on mental health and psychosis. 

Hellbalde is inspired by historic events and explores the story of a Celtic warrior named Senua who has been left traumatised following a Viking invasion. Hellbalde follows Senua's descent into a vision of Hell which is in fact a manifestation of her own mental struggles.

A Psychiatrist and Professor of Health Neuroscience from the University of Cambridge, Paul Fletcher, has been contracted to work on the game, while Ninja Theory has also worked with those who have experienced mental health issues. 

The development team hopes to challenge the stigma surrounding mental health and encourage individuals impacted by such issues to seek help if they need it. 

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

Hellblade has also been welcomed by international charitable foundation the Wellcome Trust, which works to increase public understanding of science and health issues.

Hellblade is coming to PC and PlayStation 4 in 2016.