Kena: Bridge of Spirits Review

It is easy to make and sell a platformer to me. Give it beautiful graphics that look like an animated movie, fun platforming, and a story to tug at my heartstrings. Well Ember Lab, you sold me on Kena: Bridge of Spirits.

The sweet story we need right now

In a beautiful land Kena is a spirit guide. Spirits that are lost and need help moving on to the next land become dangerous, Kena helps them move on by kicking their asses. Well sometimes that’s how she does it, it is a video game after all.

The story has Kena headed towards the Sacred Mountain Shrine … for reasons. She comes across the cheeky spirits Beni and Saiya who she wins over by being Kena and discovers their older sibling Taro needs her help. As the story unfolds she helps a few people, and discovers a little more about the mysterious darkness around the land. This darkness is causing a lot of havoc including blocking pathways and creating enemies to be beaten, because again… it’s a video game.

To help her with this mysterious darkness she enlists the help of the rot. If that is throwing you off, it threw me off too. Even now the name ‘rot’ keeps feeling like it should be the name for the darkness. Instead they are cutesy little black spirit creatures that can be adorned with hats…because cute. But also they can be used to destroy the decay, baddies, and help with puzzles.

All of this cutesyness is rounded out thanks to the sweet and caring personality that Kena exudes.

A simple but fun game

In a lot of ways Kena: Bridge of Spirits reminded me of a PS2 era game. The world is connected through a lot of connected corridors. Jumping is limited as you can’t jump through the bushes or anything. Sometimes you can’t jump on scenery even when it looks smaller than something you can jump on.

Despite this, I actually didn’t dislike it. The gameplay was relatively simple and the funneled areas to explore help the game flow. This results in a relatively short game where you can backtrack and complete puzzles but it helps cut down some of the faf. This would also help some younger gamers because despite some more adult themes, the presentation is built so that adults and kids will both be able to enjoy this beautiful story.

Combat is limited to dodging, swinging with a light or heavy attack, firing a bow and eventually throwing bombs. There isn’t too much depth to it, and in game the responses to trying to defend can be a little clunky. Outside of these specific situations the gameplay is simple but fun, and that helps enhance the feel of the game.

A treat to the heart and the eyes

Kena has an amazingly sweet story to enjoy. There is nothing overly new here, but it has been rearranged to feel new enough. In this way it is a cracking story that has been wrapped up in one fantastic looking wrapper. The graphics department of this studio has made it look so much like a movie and with Kenas sweetness she feels like it should be.

On top of the world looking like a treat, it sounds like one too. There is some solid voice acting work that helps set the tone, but also an utterly beautiful soundtrack. Sometimes you don’t notice a soundtrack as it has been blended beautifully into the surroundings, other times you notice it because it is out of place. Every so often a soundtrack will stand out for doing something right, and I adored the soundtrack behind Kena.  

Short and sweet

Kena: Bridge of Spirits is an absolute banger of a game. If you aren’t going to hunt down every collectible and rot in the world, you can easily bang it out in a week. The game’s length absolutely serves to make it better by not losing the tension with too much faff. It is easy enough that the family can enjoy it, and sweet enough that… the family can enjoy it.

Seriously go play Kena: Bridge of Spirits.

80%
Sweet as
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