Just one glimpse at Kena: Bridge of Spirits and it’s hard to comprehend that this isn’t the next, huge AAA game.
Because, honestly, it looks like it should be. It’s absolutely beautiful; Kena: Bridge of Spirits‘ quality of animation rivals the very best in the industry. It’s a gorgeous game, with visuals and character designs that give Pixar a run for its money. It’s the sort of thing you try to play but don’t get very far, very fast, because you’re too busy pressing the ‘capture’ button on your controller or simply gawping at your surroundings.
My hour-long demo session of Kena: Bridge of Spirits introduced me to the game, its setting, and most importantly the Rot – the adorable fuzzy black creatures that accompany Kena wherever she goes. You’ll fall in love with them instantly; their adorable little faces gazing up at you and following you as you go about your business. They’re not simply there to be admired, either – they’re the key to your adventure, and perhaps the greatest tool in Kena’s inventory.
You see, Kena’s world has become corrupted. Spirits are trapped, unable to move on to the next realm, instead turning to the darkness and posing a threat. With her own weapons, Kena can keep these spirits at bay, but it’s only with the help of the Rot that she can restore balance to the world. They can fix corrupted parts of the world, and they can also aid Kena in battle – as well as helping her out in other ways through her adventure.
As you play through Kena: Bridge of Spirits, you’ll earn Karma which can be used to upgrade various skills and abilities, both for Kena and the Rot. During my time with the game, I was able to unlock the ability to change the Rot into a deadly heavy hammer during combat, issuing a powerful blow to any foe underneath it. But they’re not just useful in combat; on coming across a broken bridge, these cute little guys were able to fix it to allow Kena to safely cross.
Combat plays a big part in Kena: Bridge of Spirits, and much of my time with the demo was spent battling against those corrupted spirits. Thankfully it’s fast, fluid and engaging – and surprisingly deep. You’ll need to use a combination of Kena and the Rot’s abilities while also successfully blocking and parrying incoming attacks. It can seem a little hectic at first, until you become familiar with everything that’s available to you. Keeping track of your enemies while also being aware of points of the environment where the Rot can be used is tough, but overcoming a challenging battle feels extremely rewarding.
It seems that enemies keep coming until the Rot has managed to get rid of all corrupted spots in the environment, so it’s paramount you keep on top of directing them while also thinning out enemy numbers yourself. This isn’t the sort of game where you can mindlessly button-bash enemies away; your attacks need to be carefully landed and thought-out, all while making perfect use of Kena’s ability to dodge and block. Luckily, she can employ a shield by holding down the left shoulder button, but you’ll need to use it at just the right time for it to be truly effective.
There’s a lot to look forward to in Kena: Bridge of Spirits, and I’ve only seen a small slither of what’s on offer. The world that developer Ember Lab has created here is gorgeously rich, filled with character and wonder. I can’t wait to spend more time with Kena, uncover her story and explore more of this beautiful world. I don’t have to wait too much longer either, since Kena: Bridge of Spirits is coming to PS4, PS5 and PC via Epic Games Store on 24th August 2021.
Have a gawp at more screenshots below.