Kena: Bridge of Spirits is a melting pot of the classic video game elements that make many gamers’ hearts ache for the good old days. This special debut game by Ember Labs looks like the lovechild of the likes of God of War, The Legend of Zelda, and Pikmin. You can also add a dash of Horizon Zero Dawn in there. I’ll explain that in a minute. So, without further introductions, let’s get straight to it.
Who are Ember Lab?
Ember Lab is a small studio founded in 2009 by Mike and Josh Grier. They specialize in creating animated content for the likes of Coca-Cola and KFC. Their spark in the video game industry started with their animated short film on The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask in 2016.
So, it didn’t take us by surprise that Ember Lab’s inspiration for making Kena: Bridge of Spirits was The Legend of Zelda. With that said, I’m sure that many of you are as excited as I am to experience their debut title hands-on.
Who is Kena?
First things first, who is Kena, and why am I so excited to meet her?
If you’ve had so much as a glimpse at the latest trailer for the game, I don’t have to tell you that Kena is the protagonist of this new adventure ahead of us.
Kena lives in a world where some people’s spirits tend to get stuck after they die. They wouldn’t pass onto the afterlife because prior to their deaths, they still had some unresolved problems, or issues that are eating them up.
This is where Kena’s role comes. She’s tasked with helping those spirits however their cases deem it possible so that they could rest in peace in the afterlife as they should.
Young Kena is the only person who is capable of doing all that. She has to do it. If she doesn’t, Those very spirits will be trouble for the material world. They will haunt many areas, trouble the living, and do whatever else that unpleasant ghosts tend to do.
So, it’s safe to say that Kena is saving the world here. I don’t know about you, but I’m really excited to join her.
Moving onto the next adorable element in the center of all this, we have the Rot. Look at them. Aren’t they the most adorable little cretins? Not only that, but they’re also so vital for Kena’s success in accomplishing her tasks.
First of all, let’s get it over with the fact that the Rot are immensely inspired by Pikmin, but that shouldn’t stop us from taking them as very special companions in their own right.
The Rot’s role here is that they are responsible for the process of decomposing whatever is dead in order to bring forth new life. In short, they are a necessary element for events such as when the decaying corpses in cemeteries fasten or extend the growth of the plant life around them. They basically manage the cycle of life, death, and rebirth. Beautiful right?
And no, no, we’re not even done here. The Rot do much more than that. But we’ll head into that in a second.
What I’m going to add for the time being is that you can have up to 100 of these little critters, with 60 of them being your own choice to have or not.
You’ll find the Rot basically anywhere in the game from under rocks to hanging fruits. Once you’ve collected them, they’re with you for life. In other words, the Rot do not die. There. You won’t have to worry about them dying anymore.
Like I’ve said earlier, Kena: Bridge of Spirits combines many classic video game aspects that had grasped the older generations of gamers’ attention.
This game has the standard combat formula of quick attacks, strong attacks, and ranged attacks. Add how the Rot help you fight your enemies, and it all comes full circle to make the perfect classic combat.
Now, let’s break down the gameplay elements one after the other.
How does it play?
Kena: Bridge of Spirits is a third-person action-adventure game. However, unlike the modern blockbusters of today, the world of Kena won’t be an open-world setting. Your journey here will be a linear experience where you can occasionally explore alternate paths to find a variety of hidden treasures.
Like I’ve said earlier, Kena’s combat formula is pretty basic and familiar to anyone who plays third-person action adventures.
Kena uses her staff to perform melee combos of quick and heavy attacks.
She can also transform her staff into a bow for a variety of ranged attacks.
Kena has a range of special abilities. The most showcased among them is the Pulse Bubble. She uses it to form a huge bubble around her (not unlike Geralt’s Quen sign) to protect herself and parry incoming attacks. The bubble also seemingly has its very own health bar. In addition to protection, Kena also uses the bubble to conjure a spirit dragon, which provides her with aid in combat.
Outside of combat, the gameplay formula has the elements of jumping, climbing, and puzzle-solving, which are crucial to a great action-adventure experience.
The Rot mid-gameplay
The Rot also come into play in combat. It won’t be right away though. You’ll have to perform as best you can when you first start your battles with your friends in hiding from the corrupted growth. When they gain courage, the Rot will join you in battle.
They will lunge together at enemies in different manners in order to give you the opportunity to target their weaker points or finish them right away with critical combos. They will supercharge your staff to enhance its combat attributes and abilities in order for you to get better and stronger in combat.
But one thing that Ember Lab thankfully included in the game is that you can pet these charming little creatures. That’s basically the most important thing in the game for me. I could do with just that.
Platforms and release date
Kena: Bridge of Spirits has been delayed a couple of times in the past. But rest easy that unless a big disaster happens to delay this beauty, It will come out right on schedule this September 21st.
You’ll be able to play Kena: Bridge of Spirits on PS4, PS5, and PC from the Epic Games Store.
I can’t wait!!!