Kena: Bridge of Spirits Review
When I first Played Kena: Bridge of the Spirits on PS4 back in 2021, I was blown away by how beautiful it looked, it reminded me of a Disney Pixar or Dreamworks movie, everything about it looked amazing!
Now, I get to play it all again on PC. Which also has the Anniversary Update to the game.
September 27th 2022
Want to see some gameplay first?
You play as Kena, a young girl with magical abilities and a staff that in combat, lets you do light, heavy and charged attacks. You can also acquire an upgrade to Kena’s staff that allows her to transform it into a bow for long ranged attacks. She also has a pulse ability that can attack as both a shield to defend herself, to activate objects or provide you clues.
At the start of the game, I was greeted by two siblings, who are on the lookout for their older brother, Taro, who is a restless spirit that you get to help. As you play through the game you get to gather up some small furry little companions know as The Rot. These little guys can move objects, complete tasks, and even help you distract enemies. However, they are timid little things, so you need to fight and build up a courage meter that will see them joining the battles with you. They can also heal the land/world around you, when you send them to a pathway that is blocked by corruption, you can then use your ping ability to cleanse it, which in turn transforms the area into a lush green environment.
They are quite handy companions to have at your side, and they are always on hand to help you along the way, whether it’s to clear a path for you or to gather corrupted flowers and purify them which in turn can heal you. Outside of combat Kena’s health will automatically recover over time as well.
The combat in Kena: Bridge of Spirits is quite simplistic, but gets the job done. You can mix up your attacks with R1/RB and R2/RT to switch between your light and heavy attacks and you can also charge attacks too. Then you can dodge incoming attacks and use your ping ability (L1/LB) as a shield that can block incoming damage temporarily. The combat in the game reminds me of titles like Horizon Zero Dawn and how you can attack and dodge with little effort. Along with Kena’s fighting moves, the Rot will also help you bind enemies and see you teaming together to defeat them.
To help Kena and the Rot in their journey you will be able to upgrade and unlock both of their abilities. Like the Rot Hammer, which allows Kena to strike from a distance or a Sprint Light Attack that allows you to perform a sweeping attack while sprinting.
Kena will also come across Spirit Masks, with each mask giving you a certain trait like Taro’s Mask, which will allow you to see important objects and help you find rot throughout the world.
Kena has some platforming elements to the game and while they are never too complex, finding more Rot is normal a big key. Most of the areas you visit by traversing across can be accessible, but later areas in the game more Rot will be needed.
The puzzles within the areas you visit will have you activating switches with her staff turned bow. The Rot can also be used to carry large objects to activate levers, jewels for Kena to pulse or lift pulleys. Some of the puzzles are kept quite simple and it’s more of a ‘where to find more Rot’, than ‘how the hell will I do that?’.
Thankfully find more Rot is part of the charm of this game. As they are helpful and charming little companions to have along your journey.
When it comes to the visuals and soundtrack of Kena: Bridge of Spirits, it’s nothing short of breath-taking. The world that Ember Lab Studios have created, from the characters that you meet on your journey to the loveable and adorable little Rot that accompany you. Everything in the world around you, from the rivers and the tress to the creatures that inhabits them are vibrant and alive and makes you feel like the main character in a Disney movie.
The audio in the game accompanies the visuals beautifully, with the wind gently blowing across the water as you approach it, to the sound of Kena’s boots make as she runs along a dirt road or over grass. The music will also change to a more heavy and darker tone as the beat of drums sound as you approach an area with corruption or heading towards danger. It matches up perfectly and works like a melody, as both visuals and audio dance in unison as you play.
Throughout your journey through Kena: Bridge of Spirits there is plenty to do along the way. There are collectibles that you can gather that range from Spirit Mail to Memories. Each giving Kena rewards for completing them. You can also come across carts that have hats for the Rot to wear to make them even look more adorable.
With the Anniversary Update that was recently released, Ember Labs has given us more content to chew on. There is the New Game+ mode where you can restart the journey will everything you have unlocked previously. In this game mode you are faced with tougher challenges, new enemies and boss fights have something extra to them.
You will also have Spirit Trials to undertake that consist of Kena running some obstacle courses, taking on multiple waves of enemies or revisiting a favourite boss fight to experiment new moves and tactics on. The developers have added quite a lot for you to chew on and it’s a welcomed addition to the game.