Kena: Bridge of Spirits evaluate
What’s it? A recreation about saving souls by beating them into submission.
Anticipate to pay: $40/£32
Developer: Ember Lab
Writer: Ember Lab
Reviewed on: GeForce GTX 1650, AMD Ryzen 5 3550H, 8 GB RAM
Launch date: September 21, 2021
Hyperlink: Epic Video games Retailer
Kena: Bridge of Spirits is a looker, and the Pixar comparisons which were flying round are, to an extent, justified. The luxurious world and its big-eyed inhabitants radiate with character. Even the bulbs of corruption that plague the land are oddly enticing. Kena’s obtained the Hollywood appears down, but it surely’s additionally obtained the Hollywood willpower to play it secure.
Kena: Bridge of Spirits may appear like a Zelda recreation at a look, but it surely’s a largely linear action-adventure recreation that takes place in a single massive map, and also you’re hardly ever required to retrace your steps. The map is dotted with warp factors anyway, and the sport autosaves frequently, so that you’re by no means in peril of shedding a lot progress or repeatedly working by means of the identical empty areas. It retains the story transferring all through its 8-10 hour runtime with out an excessive amount of friction outdoors of some doubtlessly difficult fights, relying in your chosen issue. General, Bridge of Spirits is a nice cruise by means of acquainted motion platforming waters.
Kena herself is a spirit information. It is her job to assist souls transfer on from the mortal aircraft. This implies looking three areas for relics attuned to the spirit, clearing corruption and defeating lesser unfriendly spirits on the way in which. Looking for out private objects in an effort to gently transfer a soul on, I can perceive, however repeatedly hitting them within the face with a stick? Appears relatively unorthodox, however I assume that reveals what I find out about spirits.
Fight, of which there’s quite a bit, works simply high quality, however I am unable to get any extra keen about it than that. There is a gentle assault, a heavy assault, a block and parry, and different skills to unlock (together with a bow, which turns into very important each in fight, and for switches used within the gentle traversal puzzling). Though some enemies require particular ways to defeat, or to defeat successfully, typically talking it is all a bit button-bashy. It would not assist that arenas are typically pretty small, and enemies typically method from off-camera. I find yourself dodging quite a bit.
The little creatures that accompany you in your journey are often known as the Rot, and good god they’re lovable. You may sit right down to admire or play with them everytime you like, however additionally they have sensible makes use of. Throughout fights, you cost up ‘braveness’ which lets you ship them to distract an enemy, assist destroy an enemy spawn level, or activate an unlocked capacity (such because the Rot Hammer, which takes a satisfying chunk out of enemy well being bars). Poking round off the principle path will typically yield new little followers, which fits my playstyle nicely. And I need to admit, the Rot do make themselves helpful every so often; one boss was irritating me immensely, digging into the bottom as quickly as I obtained shut, till I realised that I may order my lovable military to carry it in place for a number of seconds whereas I obtained some hits in.
The Rot are additionally important to progress whereas exploring the overworld. They’re used to destroy areas of corruption blocking your method, and you may organize them (at particular factors) to throw switches or carry objects round. There are a number of neat implementations of this however, typically, the potential right here is agonisingly underexplored.
The basic concern with Kena, which rears its head nearly in all places you look, is that you will have executed nearly every part on supply right here 100 occasions earlier than. Fight could be very acquainted, full with enemies carrying glowing weak spots. There are large flowers which act as grapple factors. There are targets to shoot inside a time restrict. The ledges you’ll be able to seize on to are, as is custom, marked with what I can solely assume is chook poo. Strategic use of recreation design conventions is not inherently unhealthy, however in no space does Kena attain past conference.
The story feels somewhat incomplete—cutscenes typically come throughout as deleted scenes from a film I have not seen, and not one of the characters are significantly fleshed out, least of all Kena herself—but it surely did generate sufficient curiosity to maintain me wanting to maneuver ahead. On the floor, it is one other standard alternative: a village and land ruined by a magical evil, spirits that need assistance leaving the mortal realm. Nonetheless, it would not hurl its themes at you want a pie stuffed with sentimental life recommendation, which loads of media is responsible of. Its feedback on grief—and the horrible issues individuals can do when pushed by that darkish engine—are nudged towards the participant gently and simply recognized as on a regular basis truths.
The artwork and story assist prop up the so-so gameplay, then, however there are nonetheless fight and platforming highlights to be discovered. One of many closing bosses is kind of good, forcing you to continuously go searching and swap between your bow and employees. The sticky bomb mixes issues up somewhat when you unlock it, too. It is helpful in fight (and obligatory for one enemy kind), but it surely’s additionally used for some traversal puzzles. An explosion quickly raises particles into the air, that means it’s worthwhile to shortly leap from one chunk of masonry to a different (and typically rotate them with a well-placed arrow) earlier than you plummet to your doom. Though you are not required to make the pictures in mid-air, you are all the time on a strict time restrict. The best problem, actually, is finding the crystals it’s worthwhile to shoot on rotating platforms.
If I weren’t having any enjoyable in any respect, Kena’s cute little spirit buddies and unnerving enemies would not have stored me going. It is fulfilling sufficient to play that its characters and environments—sun-kissed forests, moody caves, a snowy mountain—aren’t wasted, even when they don’t seem to be used to the fullest. I loved exploring all of them, regardless of having to fiddle with the settings to get efficiency I used to be proud of.
With my GTX 1650 and eight GB RAM—sitting on the decrease finish of what is required—Kena ran fairly easily for the primary half of the sport. From the second half onwards, nonetheless, I began to run into important framerate drops, and needed to decrease the graphics settings to tease out the efficiency I used to be getting firstly. The variety of seen Rot on display is an element, and there’s a setting that limits what number of are seen without delay. Developer Ember Lab additionally says that future patches will include Rot optimization enhancements, amongst different issues.
In case you’re questioning the place the spirits go after Kena so generously beats them up, Bridge of Spirits does reply life’s final query, as she at one level crosses over to The Different Aspect whereas chasing a spirit. What’s life after demise like? Evidently the reply is ‘ever so barely purple’.