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 current reminiscence. Kena: Bridge of Spirits is Ember Lab’s debut game, but it surely hits with the sophistication and sweetness you’d anticipate from a studio that’s been doing this for many years.
With environmental puzzles round virtually each bend and secrets and techniques ready for individuals who can resolve them, Bridge of Spirits has a robust coronary heart for adventuring. That coronary heart consistently kilos as new areas are found, every beat pulling you in numerous instructions to unearth hidden treasures and gadgets that may assist rejuvenate a fallen society.
Kena (pronounced “Kay-nuh”) is an inexperienced Spirit Guide who should find wayward souls which are reluctant to go away this mortal coil. Before sending them on their manner, 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 by way of temporary 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 photograph 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 by way of or the little creatures she meets alongside the best way. These lovable tiny blobs are known as Rot and are one of many game’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 complete) and hope they proceed to be your allies because the story unfurls.
As Kena bounds by way of the sun-soaked forest, she’ll come throughout areas of corruption affected by thorns, muck, and grey vines main up a crimson, pulsating blob known as a Tangled Heart. When Kena enters these areas, enemies materialize from crimson mist and fight ensues. Throughout your complete game, 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 can 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 broaden with complexity when Kena learns to make use of the workers in new methods.
Some of the workers’s augmentations unlock by way of buy, however probably the most important additions are earned by making progress within the story. Along the best way, Kena learns how one can flip her workers right into a bow and channel its highly effective vitality 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 unimaginable 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 under a galloping behemoth. Landing these pictures is an empowering expertise, and you’re tasked to do it consistently. It’s such a satisfying gameplay hook.
The Rot, these lovable companions I discussed earlier, additionally play a big function in fight. They can 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 techniques. Don’t be stunned if these bosses throw you round like a ragdoll, and also you die typically. The leap in problem is shocking and is without doubt one of the areas the place the game struggles a bit. The problem setting is switchable at any level, however with unsatisfying outcomes – shifting from blistering depth to cakewalk.
Bridge of Spirits additionally leans slightly too closely on the identical puzzle mechanics, particularly within the late game the place virtually each vertical motion pushes Kena to throw a bomb and detonate it with an arrow to create a path ahead. While I respect how intelligent the puzzles are and the way fluid the platforming is, utilizing the identical motions will get tiring and saps a few of the enjoyable out of the exploration.
Ember Lab was upfront about Kena’s size going into launch, saying it might be accomplished in a weekend. Given how a lot I like this expertise, I want it could last more, however the shorter footprint works nicely, particularly for seeing all of the world has to supply. The closing act is the one facet that feels rushed. The story wraps up properly (in methods I didn’t anticipate), however a couple of of the massive reveals and conflicts come and go in a flash and aren’t given the identical stage of care as different moments within the game.
Bridge of Spirits stumbles slightly in spots, but confidently sprints into the center of the journey, rewarding the participant with secrets and techniques galore and visuals which are virtually at all times price admiring. If you like Zelda-like video games or are simply searching for an expertise that may make you smile each step of the best way, you may’t go fallacious with Kena: Bridge of Spirits.