There’s a new saga coming to Iceland. Although this time not from the Edda or other ancient scriptures.
Senua’s Saga is the second part in the Hellblade video game franchise and will be set in Iceland, after the first game took the player and the protogonist Senua, a Pict warrior from Orkney, to what basically amounts to a version of Hel (not the biblical hell). We’re here for some Norse and Celtic mythology aesthetics baby. Fighting Vikings and ghosts, looking for runes to solve puzzles, all in an attempt to save your boyfriend’s soul, while the voices in your head (an effect best enjoyed with headphones) are your only company.
After such a harrowing journey, a trip to Iceland might do our protagonist some good. Tameem Antoniades, one of the founders of Ninja Theory, the company behind Hellblade, got the idea for the sequel while on holiday in Iceland after producing the first game. In a video diary describing the creative process, he describes how rather than using Google images or concept art, he and his core creative team wanted to take a cinematic approach and come location scouting. Over two weeks they visited 40 different locations and then narrowed those 40 locations down to a journey Senua could take across the country. Even Melina Juergens, the actress portraying Senua via motion capture in the video game, came along for the ride.
In the video diary he said, “I really wanted everyone to experience the full immersive feeling of being in such a strange, beautiful and dangerous country.”
While in Iceland, the Ninja Theory team also coordinated with Quixel, a scanning team that helped them scan different biomes, creating assets that could be used in the video game. The audio team also came along together with that band Heilung (known for their experimental folk music, inspired by e.g. Germanic or Norse mythology) to capture the soundscape of the land. One of the band’s songs was also featured in the first trailer of the game.
According to Tameem, the goal now is to “capture that sense of awe and epic […] and reproduce it and recreate it. A ninth century version of Iceland that is as real and immersive as possible.”
Hellblade II Senua’s Saga was announced at The Game Awards 2019 but a release date is as of yet unknown.
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