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Battle Mental Illness with a Sword in ‘Hellblade’

Next year’s Playstation 4 and PC action title Hellblade is going to let you slash up demonic monsters, but it’s also going to try to break down taboos about mental illness.

The game is the latest from developer Ninja Theory, which previously turned out games like Heavenly Sword and DmC: Devil May Cry. It puts players in the role of Celtic warrior Senua, a woman battling with issues including hallucinations and delusions.

Trying to portray that in an action game sounds like a slippery slope, but as Dominic Matthews of Ninja Theory explains in a post at the Playstation Blog, the team is working hard to be accurate, respectful and sensitive about the topic. It’s also consulting with Health Neuroscience Professor Paul Fletcher at the University of Cambridge and people who deal with the illnesses the game portrays.

Games often can have a powerful effect in helping players understand and empathize with people who aren’t like them, so it’ll be interesting to see if Ninja Theory can pull that off in an action game context. In any event, Hellblade is looking pretty and seems to have a lot more thought behind its development than many triple-A titles.

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