When Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice was revealed back in 2014, it left gamers wanting to know more about it, especially fans of Ninja Theory who were especially known for their action-adventure games such as Heavenly Sword, Enslaved, and their take on Capcom’s Devil May Cry franchise with DmC. The game seemed to be a dark fantasy title unlike any other the studio had worked on before. Over a period of # years as the game would undergo development, we found out about just how ambitous Ninja Theory were to have started work on it, and the innovations and improvisations they would utilise to overcome the limitations they had as they developed this seemingly ‘independent AAA game’.
Upon launch, both the game and Ninja Theory were lauded and showered with universal critical acclaim, many praising them for taking on such delicate themes as love and loss, while tackling them with excruciating detail through the eyes of its psychosis ridden protagonist, also brilliantly acted by Melina Juergens. One thing was certain, fans wanted more, and Ninja Theory set to fulfill their wishes, backed by a bigger budget afforded by their acquisition by Microsoft.
Ever since its announcement at The Game Awards 2019, things were mostly silent up till now at The Game Awards 2021, where developer Ninja Theory debuted the gameplay of the upcoming sequel, which left fans in awe at the massive improvement in not only the visuals, but also the spatial sound design, and the overall impact of the presentation, that felt no less than a cinematic game akin to The Order; 1886, with its seamless transitions from supposed cutscenes to gameplay sections.
However, one is lead to believe that getting excited over gameplay trailers has no merit as these are in-engine scripted demos that are supposed to represent the developer’s vision of what they wish or intend to achieve by the time they are done developing the game. It is what the ‘end-product’ of years of development is supposed to look like, not what state the game is currently in. The game shown may not even be playable at that point, thus for marketing purposes, developers create limited and scripted short demos to showcase their game.
It is not uncommon for them to overestimate their abilities or not take into account the many intricacies of video game development that may, sometimes severely, hinder the progress of the game and possibly the final game as well.
Do not underestimate how much planning goes into an advertising campaign for a AAA video game,”
Said Tomb Raider reboot level designer Andrew Dovichi, in an interview for Kotaku. To sell their game, indubitably developers have to make some promises to the players to pull them in towards their product, but sometimes they promise too much, leading to disappointment when the game does not deliver. One such example is the gameplay trailer of BioShock: Infinite. The game that we experienced after release, albeit quite a solid experience, was nothing close to the greatness that we were promised, as highlighted by this video. In recent years, this has lead to massive upsets such as BioWare’s Anthem which was later rumoured to be still in pre-production when it was revealed, Massive Entertainment’s The Division, and most popularly, Hello Games’ No Man’s Sky.
Following the recent reveal of Hellblade II’s gameplay, its audio director David García tweeted this, which lead people to debate whether this was representative of the final game and people asking for the reveal of true gameplay in the game’s current state, and David García had this to say.
Some audio notes about our gameplay trailer: https://t.co/eJxBL8F3wU
-Almost all 3d sounds use Project acoustics and spatial audio: incredible technologies.
-Everything in this demo is in engine, real time, no tricks. This is real. As such not everything is perfect(yet :D)
— David García (@dagadi) December 12, 2021
If this truly is the game running in real-time, then we can rest easy, as the game seems to be in a phenomenal state despite some hiccups. How the game will eventually shape up to be, only time will tell.