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Hellblade deletes your save file if you die too many times

Frustrating mechanic or inspired design?

Hellblade has caused a stir after it emerged the game deletes your save file if you die too much.

Ninja Theory's new game - out today - features a unique permadeath system that forces players to start over.


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Here's how it works: early on in the game there's a fight you can't win, and protagonist Senua's hand ends up covered in black tendrils.

From that point on, the more you die, the higher the black tendrils get on Senua's arm. If they reach your head, it's game over. And not just restart from the last save point game over, restart from the beginning of the game game over. It's worth noting Hellblade warns players about its looming permadeath - each time you die, Senua looks at her arm and you get a close up of the tendrils getting stronger.

Clearly, this mechanic is tied into the theme of mental health Hellblade leans so heavily on. But it has already sparked a vociferous debate online about whether it's frustrating or inspired.

Here's a snippet of the reaction I've noticed so far:

I checked in with our reviewer, Johnny Chiodini, to ask him what he thought of the system. Without spoiling his review, which should be online soon, Johnny told me he'd be surprised if many people suffered the permadeath, as combat is smooth and responsive as well as forgiving. (It took around eight deaths for the tendrils to reach Senua's shoulder.)

"I quite liked it to be honest," he said. "I appreciated how strongly it emphasised the fact that Senua's mental state is at stake. I can see how some might hate it, but it created a tension I really enjoyed."

What do you think?

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