Kena: Bridge of Spirits – A Fantastically Animated RPG Title

Ember Lab's initial gaming title, Kena: Bridge of Spirits, is an enjoyable Action/Adventure RPG game with Platformer, and puzzle-solving elements. 

Developed by Ember Labs and published by Epic Games, Kena: Bridge of Spirits offers a visually-appealing Action/Adventure RPG title. The game delivers on fantastic animation, though the gameplay is a tad simpler than the visuals would have one believe.

What Kena: Bridge of Spirits is about?

Controlling the title character, Kena, the player must navigate a mystical world. That includes trying to solve problems that fall on the metaphysical side of existence. Aided by little creatures known as Rot, Kena is tasked with lifting a mystical corruption from her village and helping guide those who have passed into the next world. 

The title is the first offering from the developer, Ember Labs. The studio spent the first five years of its existence developing commercials and branded apps for firms. In 2016 they started putting-in work towards a full gaming project. 

Story of the game

The title features an engaging plot, even though there isn’t much of a backstory to the title character herself. The plot is based on mysticism and lore. It follows a young girl, named Kena, who helps guide spirits who are stranded between this world and the next. That includes helping them make peace with the mistakes of their past. As she travels about, she collects little spirit creatures called Rot, which help her in various ways.

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Kena (voiced by Dewa Ayu Dewi Larassanti) is a spirit guide who, on her way to the Sacred Mountain Shrine, comes across an abandoned village. The village and the surrounding area happen to be under a curse. The curse causes the forest to decay and makes monsters spring up everywhere. This is revealed to be the doing of a masked spirit, who initially refuses Kena’s guidance. It is an elderly being named Zajuro, who informs Kena that helping the lost spirits within the village is what will clear her path to the Sacred Mountain Shrine. 

Spiritism inside Kena: Bridge of Spirits

She encounters the spirits of two young children, whose older sibling is a restless spirit that is overcome by corruption. The siblings were separated after an explosion. Emanating from the Sacred Mountain Shrine, it wiped out their village. The older sibling, Taro, searched for the little ones but was overwhelmed by the corruption which afflicts his village. After Kena collects the relics attached to the memories he (Taro) had in life, she can free him from the curse and guide the sibling spirits into the afterlife.

After some more touching tales, in which Kena battles and puzzle-solves her way to helping the deceased move on, she encounters the powerful, masked spirit again. It turns out to be Toshi, a former leader of the village. Her attempts to help him move on are, once again, rebuffed – as a result of the corruption being too strong.

She crossed into the spirit realm to collect relics connected to Toshi’s life but failed to free him. The showdown occurs on a mountain – quite fitting for a metaphysically themed title – where he fuses the Rot spirits with the corruption and creates a giant, super Rot. After defeating the creature and releasing the Rot, Toshi finally reveals how things got to that point. 

The Gameplay

Available on PlayStation 4, and 5 and PC – Kena: Bridge of Spirits is an Action/Adventure title with Platformer, and Puzzle elements embedded into the storyline. It is played from a third-person perspective and only allows for a single player. 

Kena’s arsenal is quite simple but effective. It features a staff and a spirit shield. Her staff can be used in combat, as a grappling hook, and as a plain old stick, to bash crystals while solving puzzles. An upgrade to the staff renders it with the ability to be used as a bow, enabling Kena to fire magical energy arrows at enemies.

On the defensive front, Kena is equipped with magic called Pulse Ability. When Pulse Ability is activated, it acts as her shield. It’s not permanent though and has its own health meter, which is depleted by attacks from enemies. The Pulse Ability can be used to find clues, or activate objects. Upgrading enables the player to dash forward, stun enemies, and pass through barriers leading to the spirit realm. The Pulse Ability shines when it allows Kena to lift and move big rocks, for platforming, or pancaking enemies. 

Kena also needs to collect little spiritual creatures called Rot, while running about completing tasks. These Rot act as helpers. Once Kena has collected enough Courage, she can employ the Rot to move objects, take certain shapes, and distract enemies. They can also be infused into an attack to make it stronger.

Final Thoughts

Kena: Bridge of Spirits, is a great Action/Adventure title, even though it is the first game from the developer. The game mixes a few old, and new, gaming concepts and delivers a charmingly enjoyable title.

The game’s visuals are phenomenal, with Ember’s animation experience shining through with this game. The infusion of Eastern spiritual concepts – Karma, meditation, etc. – into gameplay also offers a unique touch.

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Ash Bonga

I'm a marginally adequate digital assets trader and writer specializing in blockchain and the crypto sphere. Occasional contributer for
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