Ninja Theory has called Hellblade an “independent AAA” game, by which they mean that it was developed and published independently but with all the quality and production values of any AAA game on the market. According to Ninja Theory, over the course of the last 14 years they have developed three key strengths that define their games: ninja-class combat, strong character stories, and a unique art vision. In Hellblade, they wanted to take these three key strengths to the next level. Hellblade was an experience focused on delivering a deep character in a twisted world, with brutal uncompromising combat.
During development of the game Ninja Theory, “consulted world-leading neuroscientists and non-profit organizations like Wellcome Trust to properly capture the experience of psychosis and its devastating effects on the human mind”.
The game was announced at Sony’s Gamescom 2014 media briefing on August 12, 2014, where a trailer was shown. Hugues Giboire, who is the art director of previous Ninja Theory game Heavenly Sword, also returned to work on the game. A Microsoft Windowsversion of the game was announced on January 9, 2015. Ninja Theory said they were considering 4K resolution and mod support for the Windows version. The first “Early In-Development” gameplay was shown “Closed Doors” on Gamescom 2015 and after that published on Ninja Theory YouTube channel.
The game, powered by Unreal Engine 4, was worked on by around 20 people at Ninja Theory. Its subtitle, Senua’s Sacrifice, was announced in March 2016.