In Kena: Bridge of Spirits, on a regular basis gadgets are imbued with new, unseen emotional significance. A wood masks is a hyperlink to the spirit of the individual for whom it was made. Objects like a development hammer or a field stuffed with meals are tied to recollections of people that have been misplaced. Areas that had been as soon as the websites of vibrant and blissful occasions are scarred with the ache and trauma suffered inside them.
widespread issues with new eyes is a working theme of Kena, and that theme usually applies to its gameplay as nicely. Although the sport is stuffed with some pretty widespread action-adventure style tropes–it has melee fight that feels akin to titles equivalent to Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and even Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, climbing sections just like Uncharted or Tomb Raider, platforming that remembers video games equivalent to Ratchet and Clank, and puzzles like what you would possibly see in The Legend of Zelda–it manages to mix a well-recognized approachability with some recent spins on the concepts. Mixed with emotional, character-driven storytelling, some tough-but-excellent fights, and mechanics that make the world really feel alive round you, Kena is an thrilling, usually heartbreaking journey that can make you wish to discover each nook and crevice to see all that you may.
The story and world of Kena: Bridge of Spirits middle on a village beset by tragedy. Its inhabitants are all gone, worn out by misfortune, and their ache has bodily poisoned the once-vibrant land round it. That ache has drawn Kena, a younger spirit information, to hunt out the trauma at its middle and heal it. Her hyperlink to the spirit realm permits her to assist the ghosts of the village discover peace, and in so doing, she’s in a position to push again the corruption that has gripped the land, restoring it to its former glory.
In sensible phrases, you do this by wandering the massive, semi-open area of the village and its surrounding environs, battling the corrupted spirits of each the individuals who as soon as lived there and the character their ache has twisted. Most each interplay comes right down to a mix of fight and puzzle-solving. Your objective is normally to beat again a number of enemies, liberating up the power to destroy a close-by corrupted “coronary heart”–a kind of evil flower bulb–with a blast of spirit power you may pulse from Kena with the contact of a button. Kill the center, and the corruption recedes, together with the corrupted enemies.
Fight itself is generally acquainted, with Kena combating off enemies with using her spirit workers. You get mild and heavy assaults you may combo collectively, however even within the regular issue, enemies hit laborious and might knock you off your sport should you’re not paying consideration. Like related motion video games, you’ve gotten a dodge that may get you out of bother more often than not, and you may generate a spirit protect with restricted energy that can cease assaults. Take too many hits, and the protect breaks, sending you flying and dealing you injury, however should you can time your block excellent, you may parry an enemy and open them as much as a counter-attack.
Each Kena’s puzzles and its fight add a twist within the type of the Rot, that are little spirit buddies you will discover within the setting. The Rot are a bit like Pikmin or the minions seen in video games equivalent to Overlord. In fight, you may ship them to assault and distract enemies, permitting you to get in a number of free hits or assault a weak level, and so they’re important to creating hearts susceptible in the midst of fights, which might mean you can cease enemies from respawning so you may advance.
The Rot are the factor that makes Kena stand aside from related video games, and discovering them, powering them up, and using them successfully provides a tactical layer to fights that goes past simply dodging and parrying. Because the Rot are all fairly small, you must work up their braveness to deliver them into the battle. As you deal injury and kill enemies, you fill a meter that provides you a Rot motion, and you may deploy them in a struggle with a single button or use them to energy up certainly one of your assaults for an enormous hit. The Rot are additionally essential for benefiting from the environment–you should ship them at hearts so as to neutralize them, and the one strategy to heal Kena is to expend a Rot motion.
Working with the Rot in fight forces you to continually be on the assault and to concentrate to your setting. It is advisable to mentally log the situation of hearts that spawn enemies and the gadgets you employ to heal, and it is usually important that you simply knock out smaller, weaker enemies to construct Rot costs so you may distract and take down larger, more durable ones. Deciding how finest to make use of the Rot in fight retains you balancing a big-picture view of a struggle with the smaller, extra intense moments of parrying an enormous hit or sniping a weak level.
Often, the mixture of these parts generally is a bit annoying, as a result of it is simple to blow a single dodge or block and have failure cascade on you, or to unintentionally ship the Rot to assault the unsuitable enemy as issues get hectic. With some bosses, you may most likely have to die a number of occasions simply to determine how badly they’re able to wrecking you. However loss of life is not the purpose, and at the very least with PlayStation 5’s lickity-split load occasions, the sport is all the time fast about getting you again into the motion with as little punishment as attainable. It additionally affords a narrative mode issue, which looks like an excellent addition, given how deceptively troublesome a few of its fights might be. Kena’s fight is usually robust and thrilling, executing nicely on acquainted dodge-and-parry mechanics, but it surely’s the addition of the Rot and the flexibility in how you should use them that basically makes battles in Kena really feel enjoyable and clever.
That additionally goes for the sport’s varied puzzles. Outdoors of fight, Rot comply with you round or pop up on ledges and bridges as you progress by way of the setting, and might be despatched to do contextual actions on the earth, like transferring climbable objects that can assist you attain a excessive platform. Kena does a great job of mixing the necessity to give the Rot instructions with sensible makes use of of Kena’s talents, creating conditions through which options want you to consider what you are able to do with the unlockable bow or platform-levitating bombs, in addition to what the Rot can do to change the setting.
The place Kena nails the stability is in offering you with tons of puzzles that largely reward your commentary expertise, with out overly taxing your capacity to unravel them. More often than not, recognizing one thing the Rot can transfer or seeing an object you may work together with utilizing spirit power is sufficient to illuminate the trail ahead. You is perhaps climbing alongside a wall and see a less-obvious spot the place you may leap down, and each time, noticing one thing like this can take you to a reward.
The one downside is that, with the sport hinging a lot on commentary, it’s totally straightforward to overlook the one merchandise that will level you in the best path. One explicit puzzle, which required capturing a number of torches in a particular order, had me wandering the world attempting to determine it out for a great 10 minutes earlier than I noticed how easy the answer actually was, however that I hadn’t caught on to the single-use clue the sport had included to point out me what to do. Largely, although, these puzzles are simply troublesome sufficient to make you are feeling sensible for catching on. Kena can also be brimming with collectibles, together with Rot spirits hidden within the setting and hats to customise them, and whereas chasing these gadgets is essentially inessential, the addition of all these little facet paths and tiny rewards encourages you to discover and lose your self in Kena’s world.
And it’s a stunning world to discover, because of phenomenal artwork path and a very good, immersive rating, made extra so by the tales of the spirits discovered inside it. Developer Ember Labs has its beginnings in animation, and the sport takes full benefit of that background with cute characters and lovely cutscenes that assist to take a position you even additional in uncovering what has occurred within the village and setting it proper. You’ll be able to’t save these individuals, however you may assist them transfer on and forgive themselves.
In every part of the sport, you enterprise out to seek out one explicit tormented spirit and assist them obtain peace, and your journey by way of the situation is all about piecing collectively the story of who these individuals are and what turned of them. In every, you are not simply serving to free a human spirit who has been corrupted and twisted into a strong and harmful boss by their trauma–you’re additionally serving to the spirits of the individuals who beloved them however can’t attain them. The interactions with the characters you discover in every part of the sport helps imbue the areas in and across the village with a personality of their very own, and even if the place has been all however destroyed, you may really feel the life that when thrived there.
What’s lacking from the story, although, is Kena herself. The sport hints that some tragedy in Kena’s previous has scarred her, very similar to the spirits she units out to assist. Close to the climax of the story, the sport digs into a few of Kena’s motivations and historical past however wraps issues up so shortly and neatly that it seems like some facet of her story may need been minimize. Kena is kind of in the identical place on the finish of the story as firstly, and in a sport the place a lot improvement is given to the tales of the inhabitants of the village, the eye paid to the protagonist feels anemic by comparability.
The act of assembly and understanding all these different characters is highly effective, although. Kena: Bridge of Spirits is in the end a sport about making these connections, identical to it is about making a reference to the sport world round you thru the Rot. It facilities on characters who tried valiantly however failed to assist each other, and what coping with that ache did to them. It is about exploring a world and seeing what it as soon as was, and serving to to revive it once more. And whereas Kena: Bridge of Spirits is stuffed with familiar-feeling fight and exploration, its capacity to seek out alternative ways to take a look at these concepts makes for an attractive, emotional, and thrilling journey.