Need to know
What is it? A recreation about saving souls by beating them into submission.
Expect to pay: $40/£32
Developer: Ember Lab
Publisher: Ember Lab
Reviewed on: GeForce GTX 1650, AMD Ryzen 5 3550H, 8 GB RAM
Release date: September 21, 2021
Link: Epic Games Store
Kena: Bridge of Spirits is a looker, and the Pixar comparisons which were flying round are, to an extent, justified. The lush world and its big-eyed inhabitants radiate with persona. Even the bulbs of corruption that plague the land are oddly engaging. Kena’s received the Hollywood seems to be down, however it’s additionally received the Hollywood willpower to play it protected.
Kena: Bridge of Spirits would possibly seem like a Zelda recreation at a look, however it’s a largely linear action-adventure recreation that takes place in a single giant map, and also you’re not often required to retrace your steps. The map is dotted with warp factors anyway, and the sport autosaves usually, so that you’re by no means at risk of shedding a lot progress or repeatedly operating by 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 tough fights, relying in your chosen issue. Overall, Bridge of Spirits is a nice cruise by acquainted motion platforming waters.
Kena herself is a spirit information. It’s her job to assist souls transfer on from the mortal aircraft. This means looking three areas for relics attuned to the spirit, clearing corruption and defeating lesser unfriendly spirits on the way in which. Seeking out private objects with a purpose to gently transfer a soul on, I can perceive, however repeatedly hitting them within the face with a stick? Seems relatively unorthodox, however I assume that reveals what I find out about spirits.
Combat, of which there’s so much, works simply superb, however I can not get any extra passionate about it than that. There’s a lightweight assault, a heavy assault, a block and parry, and different talents to unlock (together with a bow, which turns into very important each in fight, and for switches used within the mild traversal puzzling). Although 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 usually pretty small, and enemies typically strategy from off-camera. I find yourself dodging so much.
The little creatures that accompany you in your journey are referred to as the Rot, and good god they’re lovely. You can sit all the way down to admire or play with them everytime you like, however in addition they have sensible makes use of. During fights, you cost up ‘braveness’ which lets you ship them to distract an enemy, assist destroy an enemy spawn level, or activate an unlocked capability (such because the Rot Hammer, which takes a lovely chunk out of enemy well being bars). Poking round off the primary path will typically yield new little followers, which fits my playstyle effectively. And I have to admit, the Rot do make themselves helpful now and again; one boss was irritating me immensely, digging into the bottom as quickly as I received shut, till I realised that I might order my lovely military to carry it in place for a number of seconds whereas I received some hits in.
The Rot are additionally important to progress whereas exploring the overworld. They’re used to destroy areas of corruption blocking your approach, and you’ll 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 elementary subject with Kena, which rears its head nearly in every single place you look, is that you will have performed nearly the whole lot on provide right here 100 occasions earlier than. Combat could be very acquainted, full with enemies carrying glowing weak spots. There are big 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 chicken 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 never seen, and none of the characters are notably fleshed out, least of all Kena herself—however it did generate sufficient curiosity to maintain me wanting to maneuver ahead. On the floor, it is one other standard selection: a village and land ruined by a magical evil, spirits that need assistance leaving the mortal realm. However, it would not hurl its themes at you want a pie crammed with sentimental life recommendation, which a lot of media is responsible of. Its feedback on grief—and the horrible issues folks 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 the ultimate bosses is kind of good, forcing you to continually go searching and swap between your bow and employees. The sticky bomb mixes issues up somewhat when you unlock it, too. It’s helpful in fight (and obligatory for one enemy kind), however it’s additionally used for some traversal puzzles. An explosion briefly raises particles into the air, that means you should shortly bounce from one chunk of masonry to a different (and typically rotate them with a well-placed arrow) earlier than you plummet to your doom. Although you are not required to make the pictures in mid-air, you are at all times on a strict time restrict. The biggest problem, actually, is finding the crystals you should 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’s pleasant 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 pleased with.
With my GTX 1650 and eight GB RAM—sitting on the decrease finish of what’s required—Kena ran fairly easily for the primary half of the sport. From the second half onwards, nevertheless, I began to run into vital framerate drops, and needed to decrease the graphics settings to tease out the efficiency I used to be getting initially. The quantity of seen Rot on display screen 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.
If you are 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 Other Side whereas chasing a spirit. What is life after loss of life like? It appears that the reply is ‘ever so barely purple’.