Kena: Bridge of Spirits is a real piece of work. From a developer that started out as an animation studio, Kena is made with a beautiful world and a unique Disney-like characters that radiates with different personalities. For a debut game, Ember Lab have delivered an extraordinary first project.
Kena: Bridge of Spirits is a game that have a combination of action, platformer and puzzle solving. It takes place in a large map that have warp points scattered around, so that you could easily backtrack to a place if you miss something. The map is filled with environmental puzzles that leads to secrets for those who can solve it.
You will be playing as Kena. Kena is a spirit guide who helps souls move on from the mortal plane to the spirit world. You will be guided through a beautiful hand crafted fictional world that is inspired by several Eastern locations, including Japan and Bali.
Kena travels to an abandoned village in search of the sacred mountain shrine, and as the story goes on, she struggles to uncover the secrets of this forgotten community hidden in an overgrown forest where wandering spirits were trapped.
As Kena travels through the lands, you will discover the past of the lands and learn of their triumphs and hardships through brief flashbacks that plays out in an exquisitely crafted animation. She will come across corrupted areas that scattered with thorns, muck and the heart of corruption that is called Tangled Heart. You will need to purify these areas by collecting small spirit companions that is known as Rot, and command it to purify the Tangled Heart.
When entering the corrupted areas, enemies will spawn endlessly to prevent you from purifying the corrupted areas. During this time, the Rots will get scared and went to hiding and this causes you to not be able to purify the Tangled Heart. During fights, you will charge up courage by attacking the enemies. This courage allows you command Rots to disrupt enemies (Binds the enemies), Purify Tangled Heart or using special unlockable abilities.
Rots are essential to progress through the world, as they could purify the Tangled heart and even helps you in solving puzzles by commanding them to move movable objects that are scattered around the overworld and throw switches.
Throughout the game, Kena is only equipped with her staff that is used to attack enemies. In combat, Kena can do a light attack, heavy attack, roll, block, parry and use some unlockable abilities if you have unlocked it. By performing a parry, Kena can stun the enemies that attacked her.
While you cannot change her staff, you can augment her staff to upgrade it. The staff’s augmentation can be unlocked by purchasing it, but most of the significant augmentation can be unlocked by progressing the story. Later, Kena will be able to turn her staff into a bow and channel its powerful energy to create bombs.
As the story goes on, you will meet a diverse type of enemy and bosses that forces player to carefully manage resources to defeat the enemies. These diverse type of enemies are fundamentaly different, so that you will need to change up your strategy to defeat these enemies. Different types of enemies will have different spots of weakness, whether its weakness is a small weak zone on an enemy’s chest or a hanging lantern below a behemoth.
The boss battles in Kena is very intense and challenging. Every fight feels unique with different types of bosses with unique weak spots and unique skill sets. Every fight is also equipped with a unique epic music.
Kena: Bridge of Spirits is a great first game from Ember Lab. Even though Kena has its ups and downs, but this game is a masterpiece considering it is Ember Lab’s first game. Sadly the experience is quite short, as Ember Lab has announced that it could be completed in a weekend. Kena is also equipped with in-game camera, that you could use to capture scenes of this beautiful hand crafted world.
If you like playing Zelda-like games, you might want to give this game a shot.