There’s something freeing about the trust that IO Interactive places in the player, giving them a sandbox and allowing them to decide how they’re going to have fun with Hitman 2. This game may not have reached the incredible highs of 2016’s Hitman, but it offers improvements in a lot of the game’s central components while experimenting with new ways to improve on and expand the core gameplay.
Immediately, Hellblade smacks the player with one of its core storytelling mechanics, and it takes the form of Senua’s psychosis. Wearing headphones (yes, headphones are preferred), disembodied voices seem to circle all around your head, whispering small nothings in your ear. They fade in and out, sometimes unintelligible, and sometimes downright teasing you or criticizing you for your actions. This particular manifestation of psychosis is known as “voice hearing,” and damn if it isn’t an off-putting feeling. To hear them tell it, Ninja Theory worked really hard to create the closest representation possible of voice hearing, using several actors that would run around a 3D microphone in the foley room, and their effort seriously pays off here.
The ease of access doesn’t necessarily translate into ease of play; while the controls are simple, they aren’t always super-intuitive. I can’t even begin to describe how many times I messed up a dish or flubbed my timing due to the game not doing what I thought it would do.