Senua is a Pict warrior and protagonist of Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice. A young woman with a troubled history and life amplified by her severe psychosis, she finds herself on a personal journey into the depths of Helheim in order to save the soul of her lover, Dillion.
Senua is a young woman with fair skin, blue-green eyes, and long dark brown hair. She has a slender figure but prominent muscles, very much a warrior's body. Her hair is tied in a high ponytail, and in a style based on an old Pict practice, is clumped together in plaits with lime.
In the present time frame that the game takes place in, Senua wears distinctive light blue face paint heavily around her eyes, along her arms, across her chest, and some on her lips, a trait that the Pict people were known for.
Senua wears a leather headpiece decorated with a large silver ornament set with blue stones at the front, and stitched with triskelions (triple spirals) at the sides. Her hair is further decorated with a variety of small beads and stones.
She wears a simple outfit made of an ancient version of tartan and leather stitched together, with detailed patterning on the chest, bare arms and a fur collar based around a wolf's fur. A Celtic-designed silver brooch is attached to the fur collar. She wears a leather belt on which she carries her sword at her left hip, next to Dillion's head, and a polished iron mirror on the opposite side. On her legs she wears dark trousers and cloth boots flecked with mud.
As the game progresses, Senua gradually becomes more bloodied and parts of her clothing tear, and the blue pigment on her face fades. She bears the various scars and injuries she receives through to the end of the game. Early in her journey she is also afflicted by a dark rot on her left arm, which supposedly grows up towards her head every time she 'fails' a trial or fight, and threatens to kill her if it reaches her head.
Senua exhibits a very reserved and somewhat meek personality, which stems from her years of isolation and abuse. While on her journey to Helheim, Senua has many experiences that cause her to panic or be afraid, such as when she is trapped in the dark or escaping an inferno. Despite the unpleasantness throughout the journey, she also displays dogged determination, pushing through treacherous landscapes and trials to reach her goal. Whenever she is threatened by an enemy, she readily draws her sword and faces them in combat. Senua is also capable of expressing anger and distress towards obstacles, often in her interactions with the Darkness.
Senua has psychotic mental illness that manifests in visual and auditory hallucinations, hearing voices which she calls Furies. The voices are representations of her own inner voice, expressing her fears and doubts and reinforcing her guilt. Senua has a tenuous relationship with her voices, occasionally telling them to leave her alone, but she will also listen to their advice in combat and in solving puzzles. For most of the game, she sees the voices as part of a "curse," sometimes trying to fight it. In addition to her psychotic hallucinations, Senua suffers from delusions – a belief maintained even when firmly contradicted by reason or logic. Senua also interacts with her visual hallucinations even when she knows they may not be real, speaking to them when they manifest as people from her past.
Senua also suffers from depression and guilt caused by Dillion's murder. She is firmly convinced that she is at fault for his death, and she must atone for this mistake by journeying to Helheim. Her greatest difficulty is accepting this tragedy and moving on, fully believing the delusion that she can bargain with Hela to save his soul (even when the voices, aware of the truth, constantly tell her it is impossible). Even when she comes to realize that she cannot save Dillion, she continues to desperately bargain with the Darkness in hopes of fulfilling her vow.
Senua is an adept warrior, despite essentially being self-taught. She is capable of quick and heavy attacks, parrying and dodging, and can kick an enemy to prevent it from blocking her attacks. She can also charge an opponent to either get closer or directly attack or kick it.
Her condition gives her a capacity known as "Focus," referencing her tendency to view the world in a different light, which she can use in and out of combat. In combat, if she parries or dodges successfully enough time, she can use her focus ability to move faster than her enemies or dissipate the shadows some of them are made of, which makes them impervious to regular attacks. When using her focus on the lorestones, she triggers a memory of Druth telling her about the Northmen's mythology. Her focus is also used to find runes in environments that will unlock doors or gates that bar her path.
At a young age, Senua's psychosis manifested itself in visions that only she could see, an ailment she shared with her mother, Galena. Though Galena tried to show Senua that her 'sight' was a special thing, her druid father Zynbel saw their conditions as 'darkness', a curse from the gods that would doom them all. In order to appease those gods, Zynbel killed Galena when Senua was only five, burning her alive. Senua's trauma at witnessing the event caused her psychosis to worsen and repress the memory, believing that her mother took her own life in order to escape her darkness.
For the next few years of her life, Senua was kept inside her home and abused by Zynbel, both emotionally and physically. He would lock her away in a put and belittle her condition in an effort to defeat the darkness. On one of the rare occasions she was able to leave, she met Dillion and befriended him after watching him practice swordplay from afar. The two of them eventually fell in love and Senua saw Dillion as her one ray of light in a world that seemed to conspire against her. However, after a plague broke out in Senua's village and killed many, including Dillion's father, Senua began to wonder whether Zynbel was right about her condition being a curse.
Senua decided to journey into the wilds in an effort to protect Dillion and overcome the darkness that plagued her. Out there, she encountered Druth, a old scholar who had been badly burnt in his attempts to escape his Northmen slave masters. The pair of them bonded as Druth told stories of his captors, giving life to their myths and lore in tales of Norse gods. Though he eventually succumbed to his wounds, he vowed to aid Senua in this life and the next for listening to his stories.
However, once Senua returned home, she found that her village had been attacked by the Northmen that Druth had warned her about. She discovered Dillion, sacrificed in a gruesome display of a "blood eagle" to the Norse gods and suffered a psychotic breakdown. Remembering the stories of the gods she was told, Senua reasoned that if she took Dillion's head to Helheim, the Norse realm of the dead, she would be able to bargain with the it's ruler Hela and win back his soul. With nothing else to say otherwise, Senua journeyed north.
Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice Edit
After remembering Druth's instructions to reach the borders of Helheim, Senua finds herself on the outskirts and begins to venture in. As she travels further inside, she begins to remember pieces of her past, including her memories of meeting and spending time with Dillion as well as Druth's stories in order to overcome the obstacles that face her. At every turn, the voices of the Furies continue to both taunt and encourage her in a confusing contradiction. She is also pursued by an entity called the Shadow, a dark manifested voice that discourages Senua in her efforts to save Dillion, warning that it will always be with her. Despite the Shadow's attempts to stop her, Senua is able to defeat the gods Surtr and Valravn, as well as the great beast Fenrir, gaining confidence with each new victory over her foes.
By the time that Senua reaches the inner most sanctum of Helheim and meets Hela, she realises that the Shadow is her mind's manifestation of her father, continuing to abuse her even years after her village was attacked. As Hela herself speak with the Shadow's voice, she charges through wave after wave of Northmen in an attempt to reach the goddess and kill her.
When Senua is eventually overwhelmed by her enemies, Hela kneels before her. Senua both curses and pleads with Hela, claiming she's not afraid of sacrificing her life to save Dillion but also begging to set him free. A whirlwind of emotions tears through her mind before finally, Hela kills her. As Senua slumps to the ground, Hela takes Dillion's head to the edge of the battleground and lets it fall into the abyss. As the camera pans back, Hela has become Senua and the corpse on the ground has the appearance of Hela instead.
With the guilt of losing Dillion finally lifted from her mind, Senua is able to accept that the voices in her head are not a curse or a darkness, but simply a part of who she is and that it didn't cause all the plague, Northmen invasion, or her mother's death. As the hellish imagery of Helheim fades away, Senua addresses the player, inviting them to follow her and her Furies as they have another story to tell.
- It is unclear how much of Senua's journey is actually real and how much of it is based in the psychotic delusions of her mind. Though there are supernatural elements at play, all of Senua's experiences are based on her interpretations of the Norse stories that Druth told her. The ending scenes seem to symbolise that Senua has come to realise that her psychosis is not a curse, but an illness that she must learn to deal with and the fantasy of confronting the gods fades as she does so.
- Senua's name from the Celt god Senuna, whose name was originally thought to be Senua when evidence of her existed was first discovered.
- Senua is performed by Melina Juergens, Ninja Theory's video producer. While the developers were searching for an actress for the role of Senua, they simultaneously had Melina test out the motion capture technology and act out Senua's lines until they decided to use her instead. She had no acting experience prior to this.