In a new developer diary, Ninja Theory talked about how mental illness is a major theme in Hellblade:
Hellblade will be released for PlayStation 4 in 2016 and tells the story of Celtic Warrior Senua and her journey into Hell. The Hell in question is no ordinary Hell, but is in fact a Hell that is the manifestation of Senua’s mental illness. Senua experiences psychosis, including hallucinations and delusions, as well as suffering from anxiety and depression. As a player you will witness Senua’s living nightmare through her own eyes.
They later add, “Developing Hellblade independently gives us the freedom to tackle a subject as challenging as mental health. It is a subject that we are handling with all the respect it deserves, ensuring that our portrayal of Senua’s condition is both accurate and sensitive.”
While the team on Hellblade is only 15 people, Ninja Theory is using a new development model called Independent AAA, which allows them to “create a game independently, with creative freedom, but still deliver AAA quality production values. As part of this we’re creating the game openly, sharing as much of the development process as possible.”