From the second Kena’s workers ignites with magnificent magic, the world round her sizzles with pleasure, creating a fascinating environment for top-of-the-line journey video games I’ve performed in latest reminiscence. Kena: Bridge of Spirits is Ember Lab’s debut sport, however it hits with the sophistication and sweetness you’d anticipate from a studio that’s been doing this for many years.
With environmental puzzles round nearly each bend and secrets and techniques ready for individuals who can remedy them, Bridge of Spirits has a robust coronary heart for adventuring. That coronary heart continually kilos as new areas are found, every beat pulling you in numerous instructions to unearth hidden treasures and gadgets that can assist rejuvenate a fallen society.
Kena (pronounced “Kay-nuh”) is an inexperienced Spirit Information who should find wayward souls which might be reluctant to depart this mortal coil. Earlier than sending them on their approach, she must find out about their lives, and finally what occurred to them. By exploring the land, their pasts are unearthed, and also you be taught of their triumphs and hardships via transient flashbacks that make the story sing in intriguing methods and assist flesh out its key gamers. Many of those revelations play out inside fantastically animated story sequences that swell with emotion and are amplified by an excellent soundtrack that includes conventional Balinese music. I discovered myself buzzing alongside to the excellently composed low-key melodies, some sung by Ayu Larassanti, the identical actress that brings Kena’s voice to life. How cool is that?
The serenity of the expertise extends to the world. Be ready to enter picture mode quite a few occasions throughout your playthrough. Bridge of Spirits is as stunning as video games come, and that magnificence encourages exploration – you’ll wish to see all of this fantasy kingdom. Ember Lab’s artists make each little element pop, whether or not throughout the sprawling forest Kena journeys via or the little creatures she meets alongside the best way. These lovely tiny blobs are known as Rot and are one of many sport’s most sought-after collectibles. They play a large function in each the gameplay and story, however extra importantly, they put on cute hats (one other merchandise to trace down). You don’t know what the Rot are or why they’re serving to Kena, however you retain gathering them (as much as 100 in whole) and hope they proceed to be your allies because the story unfurls.
As Kena bounds via the sun-soaked forest, she’ll come throughout areas of corruption suffering from thorns, muck, and grey vines main up a purple, pulsating blob known as a Tangled Coronary heart. When Kena enters these places, enemies materialize from purple mist and fight ensues. All through your complete sport, Kena solely makes use of her workers to take down these foes, however this straightforward weapon is about as adaptable as they arrive.
Kena’s actions are swift, and the workers’s melee strikes land with a satisfying wallop. She will evasive roll, block, and carry out parry’s to stun her adversaries. These battle sequences hum with depth, are a great deal of enjoyable, and increase with complexity when Kena learns to make use of the workers in new methods.
A few of the workers’s augmentations unlock via buy, however essentially the most vital additions are earned by making progress within the story. Alongside the best way, Kena learns easy methods to flip her workers right into a bow and channel its highly effective power to create bombs. Tagging an enemy with a fastidiously positioned bomb is sweet enjoyable, however the bow is the true star of fight. It feels unbelievable and is designed with pinpoint precision in thoughts. When Kena leaps into the air and pulls again the bowstring, time slows, permitting for an arrow to hit the precise spot you need – whether or not it’s a small weak zone on an enemy’s chest or a dangling lantern beneath a galloping behemoth. Touchdown these photographs is an empowering expertise, and you’re tasked to do it continually. It is such a satisfying gameplay hook.
The Rot, these lovely companions I discussed earlier, additionally play a major function in fight. They will heal Kena, stun enemies, and are game-changers towards bosses. These conflicts flip the issue to 11 and demand close to perfection in your timing and methods. Don’t be shocked if these bosses throw you round like a ragdoll, and also you die typically. The leap in problem is shocking and is among the areas the place the sport struggles a bit. The issue setting is switchable at any level, however with unsatisfying outcomes – shifting from blistering depth to cakewalk.
Bridge of Spirits additionally leans just a little too closely on the identical puzzle mechanics, particularly within the late sport the place nearly each vertical motion pushes Kena to throw a bomb and detonate it with an arrow to create a path ahead. Whereas I respect how intelligent the puzzles are and the way fluid the platforming is, utilizing the identical motions will get tiring and saps a number of the enjoyable out of the exploration.
Ember Lab was upfront about Kena’s size going into launch, saying it may very well be accomplished in a weekend. Given how a lot I am keen on this expertise, I want it could last more, however the shorter footprint works properly, particularly for seeing all of the world has to supply. The ultimate act is the one side that feels rushed. The story wraps up properly (in methods I didn’t anticipate), however a couple of of the large reveals and conflicts come and go in a flash and aren’t given the identical degree of care as different moments within the sport.
Bridge of Spirits stumbles just a little in spots, but confidently sprints into the guts of the journey, rewarding the participant with secrets and techniques galore and visuals which might be nearly at all times value admiring. When you love Zelda-like video games or are simply in search of an expertise that can make you smile each step of the best way, you may’t go incorrect with Kena: Bridge of Spirits.