In the penultimate chapter of Ninja Theory’s hack-and-slash title Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, players face Valravn, the God of Illusion, solve a slew of mysterious runes, discover Dillion’s soul, and obtain a god-slaying sword after winding through the Trails of Odin. The final part, however, sees the protagonist Senua go head-to-head with Hela, the Goddess of Death. It’s an encounter that’s slightly tricky to navigate and one that has definitely left Hellblade fans scratching their heads.
Though the closing battle of Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice isn’t particularly difficult, the very last moments make for a confusing ending that seemingly carries on into infinity. The fact that Hellblade doesn’t offer much in the instructions department, not providing helpful hints to flummoxed fans, only makes the fight against Hela more frustrating. That’s where we step in.
The Hela boss fight is actually broken down into three phases, none of which pit players against the foreboding goddess directly. Instead, Hela’s minion guards and a few familiar faces will be waiting at different locations, and a player will have to destroy them before meeting Hela herself.
In the moments leading up to the concluding stage of Hellblade, Senua gains access to a supremely powerful sword that can vanquish basically anything with a single swing — which is incredibly useful, considering the first wave of enemies comes out in full force. With Odin’s sword glowing blue, players should use the combos they’d normally use to kill regular enemies in a single hit (such as sprinting stab) to slice their way through the minions. Both Senua’s damage output and ability to concentrate will be bolstered here, so focus on the positive voice in Senua’s head and make use of it when dodging and deflecting opponents’ attacks. When the final opponent drops dead, the second phase begins.
The intensity heats up a bit here, as players will now battle against shadows of the bosses they previously beat. At first, they appear as a single entity on the second arena platform but quickly disperse as Senua grows closer. Players should recognize each boss’ silhouette and recall how they defeated them the first time around. Doing so will not only allow players to attack more efficiently but will also make it more clear which strikes they can expect from each boss. Use Senua’s focus abilities against the shadow bosses and continue damaging them until you make it through the first wave.
Immediately after, race toward the next platform. Bridges will fall away and players will be met with rotted versions of the fire boss Surtr, the God of Illusion Valravn, and Fenrir. These enemies will vanish and reappear at any given moment, trade places with other bosses, and even show up in a terrifying trio all at once. As with the first wave of the second phase, recalling the tricks used to beat these three opponents will serve players well. This tactic is a lot like solving puzzles in Hellblade: it takes a bite more brain power than standard fights, but there’s a method behind it. That said, implement the strongest attacks and focus abilities to beat the bosses down. They’ll disappear once they’ve been completely defeated.
Phase Three: “Defeating” Hela
The term “defeating” is used loosely here, since the way to beat Hela is, ironically enough, to die.
When players reach the final platform to meet Hela, she’ll unleash an endless stream of enemies to thwart any efforts to kill her. Regardless of how valiantly a player battles against these opponents, there’s genuinely no feasible end in sight. Hela is relentless in her attack, giving rise to more and more enemies after their fallen brethren perish underfoot. She simply cannot be killed.
Once Senua is knocked down, players will hear a voice begging to let go and surrender. Only by letting the forever-spawning enemies kill Senua, giving up the fight in the last seconds, can players reign victorious over her nightmares. After Senua dies, the final cinematic rolls and players can bask in the glory of having completed Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice.
Though there exists an undeniable irony in succumbing to death in the final battle of Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice as the ultimate means to win, there may be a deeper meaning to it than what players see on the surface. Right at the game’s outset, users are warned that each time they die, the darkness is known as “the rot” will grow inside Senua, and if it reaches her head, the entire game resets and progress is lost. Some have speculated that the possibility of permadeath isn’t actually real and that it’s simply a facade meant to alter players’ perceptions of the game and heighten their paranoia about losing, instilling in them the very same tension Senua feels.
Whether there’s some kind of metaphor in Senua’s ultimate death being her true sacrifice remains to be seen. But at least you now know how to defeat the final boss Hela so you can decide for yourselves. Good luck!