Kena: Bridge of Spirits Critique

Kena: Bridge of Spirits on Personal computer

2021 was a instead intriguing 12 months for gaming and the market. New Planet was released on Personal computer, blowing up a number of graphics cards together the way, GameStop experienced that unusual stock rise for a couple of minutes, and a handful of big-name online games noticed significant delays as teams altered to operating from property. On a more favourable spin, just after the frightening increase of live services titles, 2021 also proved that single-participant games however reigned supreme as we saw the likes of Psychonauts 2, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, and Ratchet & Clank: Rift Aside make pushes for Video game of the Year.

Having said that, there’s one recreation that was introduced in September 2021 that I feel flew rather underneath the radar, in spite of winning awards such as Finest Impartial Recreation and Best Indie Game at 2021’s The Activity Awards. That match is Kena: Bridge of Spirits, and soon after its launch on PS5 and Computer through Epic Games Keep final 12 months, it’s lastly heading to Steam while I played the activity when it initial launched on PS5, I was tremendous fired up to give it a go on Personal computer as well.

Kena: Bridge of Spirits places gamers in the function of a younger woman, Kena, who serves as a guideline to spirits of the deceased who continue to be trapped amongst the actual physical and religious planet, a whole lot of which hold on to excellent pain or have unresolved company in the world of the residing, which in convert leads to troubles for those nevertheless alive.

As a spirit information, Kena’s part is to enable spirits attain the resolution they ought to have to go on. Her journey leads her to a village in the mountains in which a masked guy has unleashed a horrible corruption on the land entire of monsters and decay. You should quit him before the corruption promises a lot more lives and consumes the planet.

Image Resource: Ember Lab by means of Twinfinite

From a gameplay viewpoint, Kena: Bridge of Spirits performs just like a 3D variation of more mature Legend of Zelda online games. Kena utilizes her Spirit Staff to chain jointly light and large attacks versus Groot-hunting monsters made by the corruption, she can block and parry foes, and as you progress, her repertoire grows over and above her staff with unique energy-ups these kinds of as a bow.

These abilities serve dual uses outside of battle, as she can use them to enable clear up puzzles which the match carries in abundance. It’s pretty acquainted once you get the dangle of it, nevertheless one particular addition separates this from staying a Legend of Zelda clone, and that would be the Rot.

Released early on in the video game, the ironically named Rot are small companions that help Kena in her journey of cleaning the village and surrounding world. The best way to explain them would be to image the Minions from Despicable Me but way significantly less devious. Kena commences off locating a person hidden below a rock, but as you progress and examine the semi-open-entire world, you are going to improve your Rot army to above 40 of the tiny fellas.

The Rot engage in a selection of roles in Kena: Bridge of Spirits. They support by clearing the corruption in conjunction with Kena’s spirit personnel, they can help you in beat by powering up your assaults for a “Rot-infused” enhance or by amazing opposition for a brief time period. They also provide as tiny lifters as they can transfer heavy objects close to for Kena. You will want all the help you can get from them as overcome is astonishingly difficult for a activity that provides by itself as sweet and harmless, and clearing up the environment Kena inhabits is a challenging endeavor for the youthful spirit guideline. I will point out the close of the recreation does get hard, so be ready.

Kena: Bridge of Spirits isn’t a fully open up-environment practical experience, even though it feels like it is. A lot in line with games like Dishonored, Bridge of Spirits is a bunch of lesser open-globe hubs tied collectively by the major village. You’ll find yourself interacting with spirits hunting to shift on, restoring prayer web-sites by clearing the corruption, and completing numerous puzzles that will have you blend Kena’s talents to entire an goal.

It is really acquainted in a good and bad way as, towards the end of the match, Kena’s abilities have only expanded by a few new additions, so you are going to see that the puzzles demand a repetitive solution to fixing them. Use the bow to traverse a gap, use the Rot to shift a weighty object, or use a bomb projectile to carry and freeze buildings are common themes in the game’s method to puzzle fixing.

I will say the familiarity of it all operates great, but the repetitive nature knocks the gameplay down a couple pegs. Going forward, aside from slicing down the repetition present in this title, a neat angle to get would be for Ember Lab to infuse storytelling into the puzzles. Imagine understanding far more about the environment Kena inhabits while solving puzzles in a fashion akin to Naughty Dog’s tactic with Uncharted’s puzzles. The response listed here isn’t to add extra powers or to make them more challenging, it’s to swap up the method to puzzle’s in a video clip activity that leans heavily into art and beautiful visual structure.

Kena: Bridge of Spirits sit down with the Rot
Impression Resource: Ember Lab via Twinfinite

In advance of Ember Lab place this title together, the group was identified for a little visual challenge by the title of Majora’s Mask – A Terrible Destiny. Based off of The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, the movie went viral upon release, with admirers praising the animation, tone of the venture and the studio’s exclusive take on a Zelda-impressed film. That venture produced in 2016, and it appears like the team has only gotten much better given that releasing that shorter, as Kena: Bridge of Spirits is arguably one particular of the most effective wanting and top-tier animated assignments I have witnessed to day.

Upon booting up the match, it becomes apparent that the recreation is likely to glimpse fantastic as the gentle from Kena’s team shines dazzling blue in a dimly lit cave. Nonetheless, the moment you stage foot into the open-earth the art design ratchets up immensely. The planet is amazing as Ember Lab drew inspiration from Jap places this sort of as Japan and Bali to build a little something wonderful. Your journey takes you as a result of abundant forest spaces and to the highest mountains above the principal village with extraordinary draw distances, lots of wallpaper-worthy moments, and a well-done Photograph Mode to seize it all.

One particular phase that highlights the game’s visible splendor is when you enter a single of the lots of hubs filled with corruption, which boast spots that have been drained of daily life and painted in a noir fashion filter in a way reminiscent of Pandemic Studios’ The Saboteur. Your objective is to apparent the corruption, and as you fight the lingering evil, the planet bursts into coloration in a manner very similar to how The Saboteur would when freeing Paris from German occupation, showcasing the vibrant and magical placing that Ember Lab managed to make employing Unreal Motor 4 for Kena: Bridge of Spirits.

As considerably as I could go on about the game’s artwork path, the match also attributes some of the finest, authentic in-video game new music I have at any time read. It ranges from oddly simplistic when you are roaming an space to a lovely crescendo upon finishing an aim to a little bit a lot more extreme when combating off the monsters manufactured by the corruption. It is reminiscent of the musical score from exhibits like Avatar: The Previous Airbender, as Ember Lab tapped deep into Jap tradition to produce an wonderful soundtrack that is boosted by Kena’s voice actor, Ayu Larassanti. I rarely pay attention to a video recreation soundtrack outside the house of taking part in a match, but I actively searched for Kena’s soundtrack and listened to it.

Kena: Bridge of Spirits corruption zone
Image Resource: Ember Lab through Twinfinite

Obtaining performed by means of this two times, I will say that my Computer system playthrough was not best. I did have a noticeable concern with a Rot technique that calls for you to use your mouse, and even though it may appear minimal, it was somewhat weird because obtaining two thumb sticks on a controller can make it way less complicated. On the other hand, I did detect a couple frame drops when a tutorial previewed a new technique, and I did see that the recreation seemed grainy when employing the Image Manner.

For reference, I have a 2070 Super on my Personal computer and ran the sport at Extremely options, for every the benchmark, but I am not a Personal computer wizard, so it may have been an issue on my section. Nonetheless, if I’m staying honest, none of people troubles hampered my total working experience, but I shed mild on them for people who may possibly see individuals as difficulties. A different minimal problem I had was with swimming mainly because there wasn’t an selection to swim more rapidly. I know it seems small, and possibly that is since I have an extreme need to have for speed. I don’t believe the staff has improved that layout, and I’m ok with that.

Kena: Bridge of Spirits combat
Image Source: Ember Lab by way of Twinfinite

If we isolate the main gameplay loop in Bridge of Spirits and analyze it, it is by no usually means excellent. It offers itself extremely protected, with a gameplay style and design you’ve currently skilled in very similar titles, but it operates and a rather tough beat loop sort of balances the absence of difficult puzzle loop. What helps make Kena stand out is how the game presents itself from an inventive style and the feeling you get from suffering from the game’s tale stuffed with trauma and decline. It’s tricky to explain, but this is the definition of art by itself, and the truth that it arrived from a very first-time studio is intellect-blowing. If Ember Lab offers this recreation a sequel, it’ll be a working day just one buy from me, and you’d under no circumstances listen to that from someone like me generally.

I can’t recommend Kena: Bridge of Spirits adequate, and the simple fact that my next playthrough was just as magical as the to start with, serves as a testament to the abundance of love and enthusiasm Ember Lab put into this title. We require much more titles like this, and if you haven’t performed this yet, do you a favor and decide on it up. Once more, I’ve performed it two times, and it however generates an immeasurable quantity of gratification and pleasure in encountering the story of Kena, the Rot, and an artwork layout as magical as the inspiration it comes from.

Twinfinite Editors Choice Award
Kena: Bridge of Spirits  Critic Review

Reviewer: John Esposito | Award: Editor’s Selection | Copy presented by Publisher.