Cambridge studio working with psychiatrist and Professor of Health and Neuroscience on Wellcome Trust-backed project

VIDEO: Ninja Theory exploring mental illness with Hellblade

Ninja Theory has lifted the lid on Hellblade – and the game’s subject might surprise you.

The title, first announced at Gamescom last year, sees players explore the main character’s troubles with mental illness.

The star of the game is Senua, a Celtic warrior left traumatised in the aftermath of a Viking invasion. Hellblade then charts her journey into a vision of hell that stems from that trauma and its effect on her.

Ninja Theory has been working closely with Paul Fletcher, a psychiatrist and Professor of Health and Neuroscience at the University of Cambridge, to ensure Hellblade is an accurate and sensitive portrayal of mental illness and its effects. 

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

“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.”

The studio has also consulted with a range of people who already suffer mental health issues, and the project is being back by the Wellcome Trust.

You can check out the first trailer below.

Hellblade is only being developed by a team of 15 people, with Ninja Theory dubbing the model as ‘independent triple-A’. The game is due in 2016.

“In Hellblade we are pursuing creative independence in order to explore a compelling subject matter and gaming experience that would not be possible under the current retail model,” said chief creative director Tameem Antoniades.

Check out the trailer for Hellblade right here:

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