Kena: Review of Bridge of Spirits
One of the very first PlayStation 5 games shown off was Kena: Bridge of Spirits, the debut effort of indie studio Ember Lab. Sony showed a lot of confidence in Kena: Bridge of Spirits by showcasing the game at its Future of Gaming event, giving Kena a big spotlight and letting it stand alongside titles like Horizon Forbidden West and Demon’s Souls remake. Sony’s trust in Kena: Bridge of Spirits is well placed, as it marks another high-quality PlayStation console exclusive game for this year. Kena: Bridge of Spirits stars the titular Kena, a young spirit guide who helps the dead resolve their unfinished business and pass on to the afterlife. While exploring a dense forest, he finds an abandoned village inhabited by lingering spirits, and decides to use his abilities to help them. Kena is the typical action-adventure hero, equipped with a staff she can use to take down enemies, sharp platforming skills, and upgrades players can purchase to greatly expand her moveset. But unlike most video game heroes, Kena is not alone in her quest. Kena is accompanied by adorable little creatures known as Rot, who also serve as one of the main collectibles in the game. Rot is useful for interacting with objects in the environment and solving puzzles, with new ones constantly joining Kena. The Rot in Kena: Bridge of Spirits has seen the game earn comparisons to Nintendo’s Pikmin franchise, but Rot and Pikmin aren’t all that similar aside from being little creatures that follow the main character around. The Rot in Kena: Bridge of Spirits can’t die and so players don’t have to worry about micromanaging them. They can be commanded to pull levers, carry objects, and attack enemies, but they don’t require any kind of babysitting. Those who thoroughly explore Kena’s game world will have nearly 100 Rots following them through the forest, but they rarely get in the way. The Rot surrounds Kena when she is standing still but otherwise, they are seen chilling in the background most of the time. Not only is it fun to see Kena’s Rot army grow on screen, but they also serve other purposes. The more Rot players collect, the more upgrades they can buy, so there’s also a practical reason to collect them. Some of the Rots are quite hidden or require players to complete bonus challenges such as shooting range activities, but they are tied to the upgrade system making them worth seeking out. Kena: Bridge of Spirits players are able to customize their Rot creatures to a certain extent through hats they can purchase from Hat Carts in-game. In-game currency is usually only used to purchase these hats, which is where Ember Lab gets creative with the available options. Soon players will have dozens of Rot running around, some with masks on their faces and others wearing bird’s nests on their heads. Rots are cute, but they also pack a serious punch and play an important role in Kena’s battle. As players upgrade Kena’s abilities, they gain special Rot attacks that are necessary for anyone hoping to survive the tougher boss fights. They also have an alternate form that players can activate at certain moments to deal devastating damage to enemies or even open up new paths in the game world, and that form gets bigger and scarier as the players are adding more Rot to their roster. Rot is a real highlight of the Kena: Bridge of Spirit experience, but Kena herself has a lot of tricks up her sleeve. Combat-wise, Kena was equipped with a staff and later acquired a bow and other means of fighting her enemies. The bow in Kena: Bridge of Spirits is a ton of fun to use because the game takes full advantage of the PS5’s DualSense controller. Whenever players use Kena’s bow, they can feel it with adaptive triggers, where the speaker is intelligently used to simulate the sound of the bowstring returning. Kena’s bow is the standout weapon in the game, but combat is most entertaining when players use Kena’s mixed weapons, combining bow shots with staff strikes. , bomb, and time constants. The main enemy encounters don’t offer a ton of challenge, but players will need to master everything Kena has at her disposal if they want to get out of the boss fights in one piece, as some of them will definitely push players to the limit. There are some Kena: Bridge of Spirits boss fights that are quite challenging, where players need to perfect dodges and shield parries if they hope to survive. Kena: Bridge of Spirits is a very laidback experience with simple puzzles and easy platforming, so the boss fights are a source of much needed intensity. Players will die more than a few times when they fight late-game bosses. The only downside to Kena’s boss fights is that sometimes there are unskippable boss intros that players have to watch every time they retry a fight, even though most of the scenes are skippable. Kena: Bridge of Spirit combat is a lot of fun for most, especially as players unlock new abilities and Kena’s moveset opens up. That said, the lock-on mechanic could use more time in the oven, as its implementation in the game isn’t the best. If players are locked-on to an enemy and then decide to aim with the bow, it will remove the lock-on, which can be disorienting in the heat of battle. Effective use of Rot in Kena’s busier fights can be inconvenient due to lock-on issues, as players sometimes have to be very quick about sending them to a specific enemy in order to accidentally waste them. to an insignificant opponent. Rot can also be sent on the health-boosting flowers that are dotted around most battle areas, but players will occasionally find themselves using those when they don’t mean to either. When Kena: Bridge of Spirit players aren’t busy fighting game bosses and killing hordes of their minions, they’ll be slowly exploring the game world, looking for secrets that will lead them to in Rot, upgrades, and other goodies. Kena: Bridge of Spirits is made up of linear paths that lead to larger, more open areas, so while it may seem tight at first, there’s surprising depth. Exploring Kena is straightforward fare for a game like this, with players climbing ledges and solving puzzles to gain access to new areas. Kena: Bridge of Spirit’s game world is small enough that players rarely get lost whenever they go off-track, though the game would benefit from a mini-map or objective markers as it might players find themselves constantly having to open the main map when trying to find a specific location. It’s possible that the developers at Ember Lab didn’t want to clutter the screen with things like mini-maps and objective markers, as the default option in Kena: Bridge of Spirits ensures that players see nothing but the game world outside of times when required for HUD elements to pop up. Kena: Bridge of Spirits looks amazing, with a Pixar-like art style, beautiful cut-scenes, and some great animations. The Disney/Pixar vibe is made complete with Kena’s musical score, which goes a long way in setting the tone of the game. Kena: Bridge of Spirits is an emotional, tragic, funny, and exciting game all at once. Kena almost feels like playing a Pixar movie, though it’s a shame it’s so short. Kena can easily be completed in under 10 hours, so the characters and their stories don’t have tons of time to breathe. Kena’s story is still told well, but players aren’t really given the time to become truly invested in the spirits that Kena brings to the afterlife. The Kena’s shortest length is one of its biggest flaws, but there are some unfortunate technical issues that hurt it a bit too. Occasionally, Kena players may encounter boxes that won’t open or their bow may refuse to fire despite having arrows ready. One of the more egregious glitches occurred after a boss fight, where the game was stuck in slow motion with a gray filter over the action, forcing the entire fight to be restarted. And since some of Kena’s boss fights can be extremely difficult and time-consuming, this is a particularly frustrating issue. Fortunately, problems like these are relatively few and far between and are usually easy to fix or ignore, but anyone interested in the game may still want to keep these problems in mind. Despite some shortcomings, Kena: Bridge of Spirits is a solid action-adventure game and an impressive debut effort by Ember Lab. It will scratch an itch for anyone looking for a Zelda-like adventure on the PlayStation, but while it’s been compared to games like Zelda and Pikmin, Kena: Bridge of Spirits still stands on its own. Hopefully, this isn’t the end of Kena’s story, because it would be great to see the ideas here expanded into future games. Today Technology reviewed Kena: Bridge of Spirits on the Neuron 4000D from Origin PC. Origin offers a variety of customizable PCs that can meet any gamers’ needs. Read more about Neuron here. Kena: Bridge of Spirits launched on September 21 for PC, PS4, and PS5.