Maze Theory


A smorgasbord of creative inspiration, things that inspire our work, our thinking and the way we approach storytelling in VR



A smorgasbord of creative inspiration. Things that inspire our work, our thinking and the way we approach storytelling in VR.


RUSSELL HARDING ON Hellblade: Senua’s sacrifice

Authenticity through research

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is a third person action adventure for PS4, Xbox, PC and Nintendo Switch, developed and published by Cambridge-based developer, Ninja Theory.

 The game tells the story of Senua, a Celtic Pictish warrior on a vision quest into Viking territory to retrieve the soul of her lover who was sacrificed to a Norse god. The story is based on events of the late 8th century when the Vikings landed on the Orkney Islands and displaced the native population.  The main character Senua suffers from severe psychosis and trauma, believing she is travelling to the Norse underworld of Hel. As you play through the game, you experience the harrowing adventure through her eyes and ears. 

What really inspires us as story tellers, is the extent of research and development that went into Senua’s character. The team at Ninja Theory spent over two years working in collaboration with many people with live experience of voice-hearing and psychosis and with Paul Fletcher, Psychiatrist and Professor of Health Neuroscience at the University of Cambridge. Through their research, they developed a stunning portrayal of psychosis in the main character Senua, bringing mental health to the forefront by reaching new audiences.



Story is always King

Story is something that has always captured me as a child; the folklore, the mystery, the art of capturing your imagination. As a child, it’s so easily done, but as an adult it’s harder to be captivated as there are so many distractions and lack of imagination. Often story is overlooked in games/film but the emphasis is put onto other aspects, such as VFX, actor screen time etc. Story is always King.

A story can be based around a character, an inanimate object, a feeling , anything you want it to be, it all comes from imagination. 

Where can one find such inspiration? Art exhibitions, photography, a colour, poetry, shapes , anything that you put your mind too.

Early games such as Kings Quest 7 were a huge inspiration to me.  A simple point and click game that travelled between vastly different locations, encountering weird and wonderful characters along your way. You also played two sides of the story with different characters which both linked up in the end. The objects you collected you could trade and use to interact with the world around you. Back then, there was no internet for walkthroughs, so you really had to put yourself in the game and immerse yourself. You had to think and become the character; for me that was a nostalgic and magical experience.



A place for experimentation

Since its inception, Punchdrunk has been inherently nomadic. Now, for the first time, it has its own home in which to nurture new forms of experiential theatre.

The village of Fallow Cross is a space for Punchdrunk to innovate, incubate and explore its future artistic and enrichment practice. It provides the canvas for the company to continue to push the boundaries of live performance and storytelling for a growing range of audiences.

Our work at Maze Theory is deeply affected by immersive theatre as a genre. We’re huge fans of Punch Drunk and the work they do, but Fallow Cross as a place of inspiration and experimentation is what dreams are made of.