Kena Bridge of Spirits Evaluation: A Sport You’ve Performed Earlier than

5 min read

Kena: Bridge of Spirits — out now on PC, PS4, and PS5 — is the primary sport for California-based studio Ember Lab, which was beforehand within the enterprise of creating animated shorts and commercials. No surprise then that probably the most profitable factor about Kena: Bridge of Spirits is its character designs and animations. The titular protagonist Kena (voiced by Dewa Ayu Dewi Larassanti) looks like a Studio Ghibli heroine designed by means of Disney, Pixar, and Laika. Kena is accompanied in all places by tiny cute little creatures who will be greatest described as furry black-coloured Minions (although they don’t seem to be bumbling fools). Some aspect characters are actually lovely too. And all of them are at their greatest in Kena: Bridge of Spirits’ picture mode, the place they pose, say cheese, and are available alive.

That is all set in a world impressed by Asian cultures, primarily Japanese and Balinese. Inari fox statues dot the panorama, torii gates are pulled from Shinto, and the sport’s beautiful background gamelan orchestra rating (extra so when Kena is exploring) entails a collaboration with Baliense ensemble Gamelan Çudamani. However Kena: Bridge of Spirits by no means actually justifies its setting, in why its story must borrow from — a cynic would possibly say “applicable”, as a substitute of borrow — the cultures that it does. In any case, Ember Lab is completely happy to stay with Western English accents in all places, which does not sit properly with its love for all issues visually Japanese.

Talking of the story, Kena: Bridge of Spirits would not ever actually pull you in. That is largely as a result of its characters aren’t fleshed out, with Kena herself being short-changed, so you are not actually motivated to do what the sport needs you to. And although the sport has some robust thematic constructing blocks — it is about grief, therapeutic, and shifting on — Ember Labs is unable to give you mechanics which may illustrate that by way of gameplay on Kena: Bridge of Spirits. For probably the most half, it is a typical motion platformer counting on the identical instruments that energy Sony’s largest franchises (from God of Warfare to Horizon Zero Daybreak) meshed with its apparent Zelda inspirations. All merged in a single. The one good factor is that it isn’t bloated, coming in at eight to 9 hours.

From Kena: Bridge of Spirits to eFootball, Video games to Play in September

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A few enemy sorts in Kena: Bridge of Spirits
Picture Credit score: Ember Labs

Kena: Bridge of Spirits opens with a textual content crawl, telling us that it takes place in a world the place folks construct wood masks to honour those that’ve died and assist information their spirits to the subsequent world. However some spirits get caught at instances, manifesting into tree-like contortions and corrupting the world. That is the place Kena is available in. Like her father, Kena is a spirit information — she is bestowed with a magical employees handed down the household for generations. Kena heals the misplaced souls (learn: bash them repeatedly on the pinnacle) and clears out corruption. She is a bridge for spirits, figuratively. However she’s not doing the job alone.

The aforementioned furry black Minions referred to as Rot comply with Kena round, they usually additionally assist her in a number of methods. Rot can unlock new areas — both by carrying objects one place to a different that in flip clear up environmental puzzles, or by remodeling into a big sealion-like creature for a restricted time to clear away corruption. Rot can help you in Kena: Bridge of Spirits’ fight too — by smashing into enemies, or distracting them that help you get in some licks. However Rot want “braveness” to emerge in battle, which Kena should construct by attacking and choosing up golden spheres that enemies drop. (The one drawback with Rot is that they’re referred to as Rot, which is objectively a horrible title. I suppose Ember Labs wished them to be a personification of decay, however “rot” isn’t phrase.)

“Braveness” needs to be judiciously utilized in Kena: Bridge of Spirits although, because it has different assault and defensive functions too in fight. You need to use it to heal your self with the assistance of therapeutic areas activated by Rot inside each fight area. “Braveness” can be referred to as upon to have Rot destroy enemy spawn factors. And lastly, it additionally powers Kena’s superpowered skills — from a “Rot Infused Arrow” that offers mighty injury, to a powered “Rot Hammer” that does area-of-effect injury to all enemies round. Staying alive in Kena: Bridge of Spirits is about deciding the very best use of the “braveness” obtainable to you. All of the extra necessary given Kena cannot take lots of injury.

The particular skills — Rot Hammer, Rot Infused Arrow, slo-mo archery, protect enhance, and dash assaults — obtainable within the talent tree all want that aforementioned “karma” foreign money which is earned by preventing enemies and restoring the corrupted surroundings round you.

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Kena deploys the Rot Hammer in Kena: Bridge of Spirits
Picture Credit score: Ember Labs

That is all supplementary to Kena’s main preventing abilities that do not want “karma” or “braveness”. You’ve got acquired a light-weight assault, a heavy assault, protect, dodge, block, parry, and bow and arrow. You may want to make use of a mixture of these, together with all of the particular abilities, to get by way of the enemies that Kena: Bridge of Spirits throws at you. As the issue scales up with new enemy sorts, Kena: Bridge of Spirits pushes you to adapt as properly. Whereas I might get by with gentle assaults early on, in opposition to larger enemies, I discovered myself utilizing dodge extra usually, dispatching Rot to tie them up, after which taking pictures highly effective arrows from a distance. However since Kena: Bridge of Spirits’ arenas are typically on the small aspect, fight did find yourself being button mashing at instances — which isn’t enjoyable.

Outdoors of that, fight is interspersed with bits of platforming and traversal puzzling. This principally entails on the lookout for switches that Rot or your bow can hit, large flowers that you may latch onto together with your bow (similar to a grappling hook), or climbing rocks and ledges which might be marked conveniently with white paint (is it fowl droppings?). When you’re caught, you may put on these aforementioned wood masks to see the world by way of the attitude of different spirits — it highlights objects of curiosity. However the options to sure Kena: Bridge of Spirits puzzles will be obtuse. I acquired caught at one sub-level for half an hour as soon as, solely to encounter an answer that also would not make any logical sense to me.

Although Kena: Bridge of Spirits encourages you to discover, this isn’t an open world. Identical to the outdated Zelda-type video games it is impressed by, its world is break up into zones that unlock one after the opposite. Every zone has the identical final purpose: free a spirit. That often entails buying a set quantity of some merchandise. Doing that in flip would require you to fulfil sure subtasks. It is all very simple. As you make your manner by way of every zone, you may come throughout infestations that block your manner. You may clear these utilizing Rot after you defeat the enemies that may inevitably spawn. There will probably be mini bosses alongside the way in which, and a serious boss on the finish. Sport design 101 primarily.

You can too select to take a seat down anyplace and play with the Rot. Kena will even do that on her personal in the event you let her be for some time.

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Look how lovely everyone seems to be!
Picture Credit score: Ember Labs

That mentioned, the world of Kena: Bridge of Spirits is absolutely beautiful and vibrant — at the same time as the sport is full of decay, being caught, and loneliness — from its darkish lantern-lit caves to brilliant forest outside. And that is from my vantage level on the bottom PlayStation 4, the place easy efficiency comes at the price of graphical element and visual aliasing (extra so when Kena is operating). It is not as if the sport is pushing for realism although, with its cartoony textures. And though I did not expertise Kena: Bridge of Spirits at its peak, that is how most console avid gamers will invariably play it, given Sony’s struggles with manufacturing sufficient PlayStation 5 items to go round. To not say something of the additional provide points in India. When you’re on PC, you get a a lot better deal due to Epic’s regional pricing efforts.

Finally, Kena: Bridge of Spirits is a by-the-numbers 3D action-adventure sport. It’d appear to be a contemporary Zelda sport however would not play like one. It is largely only a collection of arena-based fight routines, stitched collectively by lengthy stretches of traversal, and cutscenes which might be well-designed however really feel like a forgotten Hollywood B-movie. Too usually, Kena: Bridge of Spirits reminds you of higher video games you have performed and that it is borrowing from — which isn’t signal. There isn’t any hurt in studying from others, it is definitely properly made, however it’s missing in originality. There’s little persona to Kena: Bridge of Spirits, for it is adopting the sheen of others. For a debut title, that is undoubtedly effort — however I worry Ember Labs have performed it too protected.


  • Character design
  • Attractive world
  • Quick and candy


  • By-the-numbers title
  • Cultural dissonance
  • Bland storytelling
  • Missing originality
  • Obtuse puzzles

Ranking (out of 10): 6

Kena: Bridge of Spirits launched September 21 on PC, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 5. It prices Rs. 939 on Epic Video games Retailer, and Rs. 3,330 on PlayStation Retailer.


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