I’m All In For Hellblade 2, But The Last-Minute Embargo Is Questionable

I'm sure it has nothing to hide, but why the secrecy then?

Story Highlights

  • Hellblade 2, a highly anticipated game of 2024, won’t allow reviews till the last hour.
  • If the prequel is any indication, Hellblade 2 is going to be a fantastic, mind-boggling adventure.
  • A great game doesn’t need to hide; opting for secrecy can raise doubts about any game’s quality.

With the evolution of video games came the horror of broken releases, performance issues, and incomplete games on launch. It has become so common, especially in AAA games, that you can’t help but doubt every new game. Even if it looks perfect, until it is released, you can’t say anything for sure. Amidst this uncertainty, game demos and early previews alleviate the doubts. However, certain games like Hellblade 2 opt for secrecy till the last minute, for better or worse.

YouTube video

Hellblade 2’s Last-Minute Embargo

There’s no doubt that Hellblade 2 is one of the most awaited games of the year, and an Xbox exclusive everyone has their eyes on. And from what we’ve seen so far the game will surely be brilliant. However, a rather peculiar news came not too long ago. Hellblade 2’s review embargo will lift approximately one hour before its release. You’ll only have a small window to decide if it’s worth getting.

For a long time, even the review copies weren’t delivered. Everything regarding Hellblade 2 is very last-minute. It’s not that I can’t understand the logic. Hellblade 2, like its predecessor, is going to be a short and sweet adventure; one that will be very easy to spoil, since there’s nothing too much in it anyway. Thus, Xbox plans to thwart any intentional or unintentional spoiler cases.

That’s all well and good, but what about certain consequences of this decision, like the unavoidable doubt?

Hellblade 2 Will Be A Piece Of Art For Sure

Of course, by all this I do not mean that Hellblade 2 will be a flawed game, that’s why it adopted this approach? The secrecy bothers me, true, but not so much as to skip out on this masterpiece. If the prequel and all the showcases are any indication, we’re in for another pristine work of art.

Hellblade 2 looks like an absolute treat | Source: Steam
Hellblade 2 looks like an absolute treat | Source: Steam

Hellblade is, without a doubt, a unique game. It doesn’t correspond to the norms and trends; instead, it goes for a completely different approach. There’s very little gameplay, that too as a tool to further the plot and the creatively bizarre but perfectly executed development of the main character, Senua.

[HELLBLADE SENUA’S SACRIFICE] One of the best linear story games in recent years! Also looks insanely beautiful!!
byu/Pradepta_K inIndianGaming

Even more than the overarching plot, the creative environments, and the psychological impact of Senua’s condition are what make the game so explosively breathtaking. The sound and art direction are beyond incredible, the atmospheric design playing tricks on your mind and creating a very realistic depiction of Psychosis-caused delusions is an experience you can’t help but genuinely applaud.

Hellblade makes me question reality, too | Source: eXputer
Hellblade makes me question reality, too | Source: eXputer

Couple that with the splendid voice acting of characters, especially Senua, accurately depicting someone with a deeply traumatic past and the tragic journey of coping with its aftereffects on the mind, and you get a peerless game not bound by the suffocating conventions.

Yesterday I played Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice and as someone with mental illness (depression and a bit of anxiety) I can tell you how precious and accurate this game is, please play it if you haven’t.
byu/Aticum ingaming

So, did I convince you that my excitement and anticipation for Hellblade 2 is real? From what I’ve seen so far, it all points to a masterpiece. This makes my question even more genuine, why the secrecy?

The Matter Of Doubt

No matter how excited and biased you are for a game, a little thought always pops into your mind when you hear something like this. The ominous “Why are they withholding information?” and the “Is there something they’re trying to hide?” Stuff like this appears whether you want it to or not, and there’s a genuine reason for this.

I understand that Xbox wants to avoid spoilers, but early reviews only strengthen the case for a game. The only reason you would hide them is if you were afraid that the reviews might be bad and it could tank your sales. Then again, this never occurs to you if you have absolute confidence in your product. Which brings me back, does Xbox not have the assurance that Hellblade 2 will clear the review hurdle with flying colors?

If once I start thinking that Xbox has something to hide and that Hellblade 2 is a bad game, there’s nothing you can say to convince me otherwise. I’ll always say in response, “If it’s so great, why not release its reviews early for everyone to see?” And I’ll be right in my argument. Do you see the dilemma?

byu/Less-Witness-7101 from discussion


A Good Game Shouldn’t Hide

Thus, I believe letting reviews out early for a game is always the right thing. If it’s a great game, all the more reason, but even if you have doubts it might not appeal to people, do so either way. In current times, people are inherently suspicious about new games, considering all the broken launches and incomplete games.

Demos help identify certain flaws | Source: Mimimi Games (Twitter)
Demos help identify certain flaws | Source: Mimimi Games (Twitter)

A demo or an early preview can erase a lot of these doubts. Who knows, fans like the demo so much that they’re immediately sold on the game? Besides, demos also serve another purpose. They can be used to gather feedback, and possibly improve the game before release

I’ll gladly die on this hill: Demos should be mandatory for every game.
by inSteam

In the case of Hellblade 2, a demo might not have been possible, considering it’s already a pretty short game, but at least early reviews would’ve further increased its hype. Anyway, I just hope it is as impressive as I expect.

Hellblade 2 releases for the Xbox Series X|S and PC on May 21st, 2024.

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Hanzala is a dedicated writer who expresses his views as opinion pieces at eXputer. He's always been fascinated by gaming and has been an avid consumer of many different genres for over a decade. His passion for games has him eager to encounter the latest RPGs and actively look for new Soulslike to challenge. He puts forth his experience and knowledge of gaming into captivating opinion pieces.

Experience: 8+ months || Education: Bachelors in Chemistry.

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