For some individuals, Kena: Bridge of Spirits will likely be a visually spectacular meditation on grief. However for me, it is all one huge mission to gather new hats for my Rot companions. Positive, I’ve to struggle large monsters and clear up platforming puzzles to do it, but it surely’s all price it to see my chubby little companions carrying pancakes and frogs and acorns as headwear. Fortunately for these searching for one thing past vogue equipment for small magical creatures, this journey presents a lot to take pleasure in behind the attention sweet exterior.

You play as Kena, a spirit information geared up with solely a workers and the power to “pulse” mild as a defend or vitality supply. You are tasked with serving to struggling spirits go on to the afterlife and clearing a darkish corruption that is taken management of the land. Which means combating monsters, climbing, leaping, and dashing your method via the gorgeous world whereas fixing puzzles and amassing relics. In your quest to launch the unquiet spirits you will make a couple of mates, ship ghost mail and face Kena’s personal recollections. It is a huge job, positive, however the excellent news is you have got a military of portly friends known as the Rot to assist.

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Associates with advantages

These little guys aren’t fairly the manic minions that Pikmin are, however they’re key to clearing the corrupted areas and navigating the world. Throw them on the huge pink blooms that mark the guts of a corrupted space, blast it with a pulse of sunshine out of your spirit information workers and e book, and the world will likely be cleansed. Chuck them at heavy objects they usually’ll carry them to your required location. Hurl them at at enemies they usually’ll bind them briefly, providing you with an opportunity to assault. With the assistance of a magical flower that you will discover on some areas of the map, you possibly can even have your Rot be a part of collectively as one huge amorphous mass that has the facility to slam via limitations.

(Picture credit score: Ember Lab)

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Once you begin Kena: Bridge of Spirits, with little various Rot and a workers that is each a weapon and able to pulsing a particular mild to open doorways and lightweight gems, it feels a bit fundamental. Fairly as hell, positive, however enemies are simply defeated with the outdated mild assault, heavy assault combo, and the platforming is simple. This is not an open-world exploration expertise both, and at most you will solely ever have two or three paths to select from.

Keep it up, although, and the sport progressively provides new layers that elevate the motion. There is a bow that makes ranged assaults attainable, and it will also be used to tether to massive blooms like a grappling hook. A bomb is beneficial in fight however is most notable for its energy to levitate heavy rocks and elements of ruins, creating bridges and platforms that may stay suspended for a brief time frame. You will be taught to sprint via magical limitations, which is a useful talent that additionally enables you to teleport to succeed in new locations. One of the best platforming puzzles and boss battles in Kena: Bridge of Spirits mix these skills to supply an actual problem – one among timing, precision, and sheer bravado.

(Picture credit score: Ember Lab)

There are many smaller enemies you could chew via simply sufficient, however the sport packs loads of greater challenges and enemies that may check your abilities and ship overwhelming assaults. They’re going to really feel nearly not possible to beat till an thought hits you – utilizing the Rot to bind the foe that likes to vanish underground, your levitation bomb to reveal a weak level beneath an enemy’s robust carapace, or breaking via a forcefield along with your sprint. I am not a violent particular person, but it surely made me completely happy to see a meaty-looking enemy spawn on the battlefield as a result of I might already style the wealthy satisfaction of taking them down. As with the Rot, the bigger enemies are fantastically designed, leaning in the direction of the natural with gnarled woods and twisted, craggy formations. It ties them again to the story, and even whenever you’re dealing with duplicates it feels extra alive than a platoon of shiny robots would.

Lacking a handbook

The primary drawback with Kena: Bridge of Spirits is that, as new abilities are launched, it is not at all times clear precisely how they work. It is positive to not have textual content prompts everywhere in the display so long as the atmosphere is ready as much as shortly train you the way your new energy can be utilized – the Legend of Zelda video games are a masterclass on this – or if there are some pleasant NPCs who can supply recommendation. Kena usually lacks both, and it is easy to get pissed off. Once you’re caught in Kena: Bridge of Spirits, you are extremely caught. Be grateful you will be enjoying in a world the place our information writers are prepared to supply some assist for these moments, since you would possibly simply escape the hypertension points I now want to debate with my physician.

(Picture credit score: Ember Lab)

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Kena: Bridge of Spirits is developer Ember Lab’s first sport. Its earlier concentrate on animation shines via within the charming and visually wealthy world, however a extra skilled studio might need had the time to create a barely smoother set of tutorials to make you’re feeling empowered by new abilities somewhat than misplaced, so as to add a couple of extra side-quests right here and there to maintain the pacing assorted and to deal with a number of the framerate points in cutscenes, and bugs round boss battles. That stated, the code I obtained was a pre-release construct, so a number of the extra minor points will hopefully have been ironed out.

Rot across the clock

However in the end, you have a look at these little Rot and you may’t be mad. Regardless of their restricted abilities as adventurers, they’re totally charming companions no matter you are doing. They’re going to be watching you as you clamber ledges, enter an deserted home, after which they’re going to already be sitting on the furnishings trying cute. You will gather new Rot by finishing important elements of the story or simply by discovering them out on this planet, hidden beneath rocks or in pots. You’ll be able to’t identify them (within the sport anyway, name them what you want within the privateness of your individual head) or set up them, they usually all have the identical abilities, however you can provide them hats. You will get headwear for finishing elements of the story, discovering chests hidden all through the world, and you should buy them at little hat carts too. It is a minor beauty addition, however when you see your Rots operating round with beetles and pots and mushrooms on their heads, I believe you will agree it is a good one. The Rot actually are a stroke of genius that heighten each different facet of Kena: Bridge of Spirits, and provides it a visible persona that sticks round via each process.

(Picture credit score: Ember Lab)

Any technical points for me have been additionally outweighed by simply how a lot I preferred being on this planet and studying how one can traverse it, even when often it meant my neighbors heard some new swear phrases via the partitions. Some moments really feel crafted by the writers and characters designers to be actually particular, like whenever you free a magical creature known as Rufus who was trapped by the corruption, or on the ending which even made my withered outdated coronary heart beat additional arduous. Because of its storytelling and visible design there’s simply one thing heat and alive in Kena: Bridge of Spirits, which is probably becoming for a sport that’s so centered on loss of life.

Kena: Bridge of Spirits was reviewed on PS5 with code supplied by the writer.

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