Kena: Bridge of Spirits caught my consideration on the PlayStation Future of Gaming occasion again in June 2020 however then the sport kind of vanished from the scene till very not too long ago when the launch trailers got here out. It is a Third-Person Action-Adventure sport with just a few Metroidvania components thrown into the combination. Luckily I used to be capable of safe an early copy of the sport, and as is with each different indie sport I play, I booted up Kena Bridge of Spirits with an open thoughts and with out sky-high expectations, not realizing in regards to the epic journey that awaited me, and by the top of this 10-12 hour expertise, I used to be left with nothing however reward for Ember Labs’ first indie sport outing.
The sport begins as you’re taking management of Kena in a dimly lit cave. Kena lights the darkish cave round her with spirit power, symbolizing how this journey is one of discovery and revelations for her as a lot as will probably be for you. Kena is a spirit information tasked with guiding troubled and misplaced spirits throughout the realm. She is attempting to assist as many misplaced spirits as she will whereas making her method to the shrine on the high of the mountain for her personal private causes, that are unknown at the moment.
Kena will meet a solid of attention-grabbing characters on her journey, and every spirit she helps could have its personal backstory and different characters related to them. The cutscenes are performed in a manner the place they convey rather a lot of expressions and particulars in a really quick quantity of time. They are just like what the Overwatch shorts felt like. The voice appearing for all of these characters, particularly Kena, is totally on level and stuffed with rather a lot of feelings. Kena’s VA, Dewa Ayu Dewi Larassanti, did a improbable job contemplating it was her first try at voice appearing for a online game character.
With this primary premise defined, we set foot outdoors the cave right into a lush and colourful forest. The world and visuals created by Ember Labs actually assist in making this an incredible expertise. Everywhere you look, and every location you go to is surrounded by stunning vistas. Kena: Bridge of Spirits is an open-world sport the place the world is split into sections. It is all seamless, and there aren’t any loading screens even if you transition backwards and forwards between gameplay and cutscenes. There is a village within the heart of the map that acts as a central hub. Kena will go to all sides of the map because the story progresses, however all of it’s linked to the village, so you possibly can additionally name it the Bridge that connects totally different areas of the map.
The world feels much more alive as a result of of the way it reacts to your presence. Kena can use an power pulse each time she needs, and wind chimes and timber react to her power. Whenever you enter a brand new space, it’s principally lined in corruption and muted colours, indicating the presence of one thing sinister. But you get this satisfying sense of development as you filter out the corruption from an space, and every part turns into vibrant and alive once more. You may Warp (Fast Travel) between found Warp factors which makes exploring beforehand found areas very simple.
You can freely discover beforehand cleared components of the map and hunt for any remaining collectibles or statues in these areas as enemies don’t respawn if you backtrack to beforehand visited areas. There is not any cluttered Hud on this sport to remove from the immersion provided by the colourful open world. Another sturdy facet of the sport that additional enhances the general expertise is the distinctive Soundtrack composed by Jason Gallaty, who’s also called Theophany on YouTube. Each area of the map has a unique soundtrack complementing the surroundings and setting of that area.
Kena: Bridge of Spirits doesn’t take any dangers with its strategy to gameplay and total mechanics. All of the mechanics and gameplay loops used right here have been seen time and time once more, carried out throughout totally different journey video games. The puzzles are very attention-grabbing and fascinating, particularly within the latter half of the sport when extra mechanics have been launched. There is nothing groundbreaking right here, however they’ve carried out the fundamental mechanics in a manner the place the sport doesn’t really feel boring or repetitive at any level. Kena’s foremost weapon is her Staff which she makes use of for mild and heavy assaults. Later on, she features a bow and bombs, which she will use each to navigate round puzzles and in fight. The bombs could make sure rocks float within the air, which makes for some enjoyable puzzles.
Kena may befriend Rot. They are pleasant minions who comply with you round and assist in transferring heavy objects. The rot can be utilized in fight to have just a few extra strikes up your sleeves. The extra rot you recruit, the extra actions they’ll be capable of carry out. How usually you should utilize them in fight can also be depending on their numbers.
Combat right here depends on hit and dodge ways. This is one thing that doesn’t change all through the sport and turns into a bit boring afterward. Kena normally has to attend for her enemies to complete attacking after which transfer in for just a few combos. After that, it’s the usual affair of rolling round and ready on your flip once more.
The sport does a good job of introducing new enemy sorts to maintain you in your heels and to make the entire fight cycle much less repetitive, however all of these enemy sorts will be taken down with the identical button mashes. I discovered myself defeating most of the mini-bosses utilizing solely heavy assault spams.
There is a really primary improve tree so that you can unlock, however these upgrades don’t actually improve your arsenal. They simply unlock further harm and vary for present assaults. The builders might have flushed out the fight a bit extra by introducing a extra advanced improve tree or possibly let Kena study newer strikes because the story progresses. She solely learns 2 new issues all through the sport, which is a bit underwhelming, to say the least.
The foremost boss encounters on this sport are very attention-grabbing and grow to be more and more tough as you progress the story. Each of the primary bosses has a definite persona and relies on that persona. They use totally different movesets and weapons. They could be a bit difficult to cope with should you go headfirst into fight with out studying their strikes first, particularly on the upper difficulties. Most of the mini-bosses you encounter and defeat grow to be common grunts from that time onward and add to the totally different enemy sorts you’ll encounter out within the open world.
You can inform that the builders have been capable of correctly execute their imaginative and prescient by the general high quality of the sport and the enjoyable issues added, just like the reactive photograph mode the place Kena and her rot companions react to the digital camera everytime you take a screenshot. Not solely them, however the characters you meet are additionally photogenic as they too pose, smile, and have a look at the digital camera, which is a neat little characteristic.
You may equip your rot companions with totally different hats that may be bought from Hat Shops scattered throughout the valley. You can earn cash for getting these hats by restoring fallen shrines, looting chests and baskets, and exploring the areas. I consider that this sport will assist them safe higher offers and maybe collaborate with larger studios to create even higher video games sooner or later for the following era of consoles.
I reviewed Kena: Bridge of Spirits on PC whereas taking part in it on the utmost graphical preset and the sport regarded and carried out nicely sufficient. I did encounter body drops right here and there, however they have been most noticeable for just a few seconds when the sport transitioned backwards and forwards between cutscenes and gameplay. The sport didn’t crash for me even as soon as throughout my 10-12 hours with it, which is all the time welcome seeing how poorly some firms optimize their computer ports as of late.
Considering that is the primary sport Ember Labs have ever made, I’d say they’ve performed a wonderful job total in each division and made a particularly enjoyable and memorable sport. My solely main gripe with the sport was its missing fight and improve tree, however I’m certain if Ember Labs ever made a sequel to this sport, these departments will get buffed up fairly a bit.