The developer of Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 has responded to an openly voiced criticism that they use “AI voice acting” technology.
Voice acting is often considered a tough field to break into, but new AI innovations could soon replace human voice actors entirely, according to a new report written by GLHF Executive Editor Kirk McKeand. The article lists development studios Neon Giant and Ninja Theory – the teams behind 2021’s The Ascent and 2017’s Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice – as two prominent studios that have already implemented this in practice. In light of this, Ninja Theory quickly took to Twitter to clarify its stance on artificial voice acting.
In response to a question from Twitter user ImAlwaysBoyo, Ninja Theory stated that while artificial voice acting has been used in the past, it was always used as a substitute early in the development cycle. According to the developer, the artificially spoken lines of dialogue will later be replaced with real performances by real voice actors. Ninja Theory has long been regarded as a paragon of video game development, and many fans will be pleased to see that they don’t plan to skimp on the voice acting.
Those on Twitter seem to have been reassured by the explanation, and Ninja Theory’s transparency bodes well for the upcoming Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2. The long-awaited sequel, first teased by the new title in 2019, is likely to build on the deeply personal and intimate story of Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrfice, but this can only be effectively done with passionate, earnest and compelling voice acting.
That’s not to say that the voice acting algorithms in question aren’t surprisingly lifelike; the technology in question comes from the pioneering company Altered, and based on publicly available demos, the technology is capable of putting together surprisingly smooth patterns. Presumably, in the coming years, studios will be able to use this technology to bring a variety of voices to games where something like that wouldn’t otherwise fit into a smaller budget. Still, it can also be used to diversify NPC voices in extremely wide-ranging games such as in the upcoming The Elder Scrolls 6.
From what we’ve seen so far, Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 looks close to the cutting edge of video game visuals, and we can rightly expect Ninja Theory to innovate in other ways. However, voice acting is an integral part of the presentation. However exciting the prospect of artificial intelligence-powered voice acting may be, it should really only be used within certain limits.