Kena: Bridge of Spirits review

02.10.2021 1273

Kena: Bridge of Spirits - State of Play Trailer | PS5, PS4

Kena: Bridge of Spirits is a fairytale adventure created by Ember Lab studio consisting of only 14 people. It's the first game by a small team - and a pretty successful one, too: the average score of Kena on Metacritic is 81 out of 100. Let's find out how The Legend of Zelda series influenced Bridge of Spirits and what Ember Lab was doing before 2021.

What the story of Kena: Bridge of Spirits is about

The heroine of the game, a girl named Kena, has an unusual ability - she can communicate with the spirits of the dead, see their past and help them find peace. She has to use this ability more than once in order to find a way to clear the magical forest of filth destroying all living things and get to the sacred mountain altar.

On her journey through the abandoned village, the dense forest and ancient ruins, the girl is helped by tiny spirits - weak and fragile on their own, but capable of overcoming some enemies together. The creatures help Kena for a reason - they want to rid the magic forest of monsters and filth no less than the main character.

Kena: Bridge of Spirits

How The Legend of Zelda influenced Kena

Ember Lab was inspired by The Legend of Zelda and Okami when creating their first game, but it was the Nintendo series that had the most noticeable influence on Kena: Bridge of Spirits. The developers make no secret of this - on the contrary, they profess their love for The Legend of Zelda whenever they talk about their favorite games. In 2018, brothers Mike and Josh Greer, who founded Ember Lab, even released a fan-made short animated film about the backstory of The Legend of Zelda: Majoraʼs Mask, one of the best parts of Zelda.

Kena: Bridge of Spirits

Like most games in The Legend of Zelda series, Kena: Bridge of Spirits is an adventure combining world exploration, battles with enemies, and puzzle solving.

If you look under every stone in the magical forest, you can find more spirits, which will replenish the small army of Kenya, magic crystals to buy collectibles, points for boosting the heroine and places for meditation, which increase the health of the girl.

Battles are based on a combination of weak and strong blows, plus you can use a magic bow with endless arrows in combat. Complex combos in Kena: Bridge of Spirits you won't make, but those blows that are available initially, and those that can be pumped later, are enough not to get bored in battles with ordinary enemies. In battles with extremely difficult bosses, it's important to dodge and actively use Kenya's magic shield. If you press the button that creates the shield a moment before the enemy hits the girl, she can parry, and the enemy will open for a counterattack.

Puzzles, the third key element of Kena: Bridge of Spirits, are simpler than in any Zelda, but Ember Lab doesn't seem to expect anyone to play her game solely for puzzles. At one point, Kena must shoot the sparkling crystals in the correct order to open a stone door; at another, she must ask the spirits to put the bird statue back in its place; at yet another, she must find the hidden passageway to the house where the quest item lies. Nothing really complicated, and dungeons with puzzles, as in The Legend of Zelda, are absent here.

Kena: Bridge of Spirits

What the developers of Kena: Bridge of Spirits are known for

The Grier brothers founded Ember Lab in 2009 as an animation, animation and computer graphics studio. The company worked with The Coca-Cola Company and the Chinese appliance manufacturer Hisense, and produced two short films, Dust and the already mentioned Majoraʼs Mask - Terrible Fate, both released in 2016. The first film, despite the abundance of computer graphics, starred real actors, and the second, about Majoraʼs Mask, was fully animated.

Kena: Bridge of Spirits was also originally conceived as an animated film, but then the authors still decided to make an adventure video game. The experience of creating cartoons came in handy when creating Kena. All the clips in the game look like the fragments of Disney and Pixar movies, and the developers devoted a separate post on the PlayStation Blog to work out the animation of the main character. Bridge of Spirits itself, outside of the pre-drawn videos, is also indistinguishable from the cartoon.

Kena: Bridge of Spirits

Kena's impressive appearance is only partly the work of the animators. The artists, whose work can be seen even in the screenshots, played an equally important role in it. The Bridge of Spirits looks even better in action.

The five most important facts about Kena: Bridge of Spirits

  1. Kena: Bridge of Spirits is an adventure in the spirit of The Legend of Zelda, with world exploration, battles and puzzles.
  2. The game's developers are animators and cartoonists, so Kena looks like a cartoon in video-game format.
  3. There is no multiplayer and microtransactions in Kena: Bridge of Spirits - it is a single story game.
  4. The plot of the game revolves around dying magic forest, that has to be saved from terrible evil.
  5. Kena: Bridge of Spirits is available from September 21 on PC, PS4 and PS5.

Kena: Bridge of Spirits

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