Kena is a Zelda-like action-adventure game with good art design that feels more like an animated movie making you wonder, is Kena: Bridge of Spirits worth it? Just one look at the game can make it clear that there are experienced animators involved in the game. For good reasons, since Ember Lab is the developer of the game has vast experience in animation. This is their first entry into video games. It has amazing art design and animation but its gameplay can’t keep up with the rest of the game. It has simple combat that can feel repeatable at times but it is good enough.
The progression and storytelling are good but it is not as good as the way it looks. The high bar that the art design and animation sets for the game is far ahead of the other aspects of it. Whether it’s puzzle-solving, platforming, or combat all of it seems balanced. The constant change of pace keeps it good all the time. Exploration and the way the world of the game looks is amazing. It gives you an incentive to explore the world for the sheer purpose of seeing it all. It gets better and better the more players explore it. There is a massive difference between the look and other aspects of the game which can tip the balance. All this makes you wonder, is Kena: Bridge of Spirits worth it? Let’s find out.
Premise (Spoiler Free)
Kena is a spirit guide that helps the spirits who are unable to move to the next realm. These sprits are stuck for a variety of reasons which could include guilt, revenge, or unfished business. The story follows Kena as she travels through the beautiful land that is dying. As she travels, she will come across different spirits on her journey. Kena would guide these spirits to the final journey which can make up for some interesting scenarios.
Different spirits will have different stories so before sending them home you would need to learn about their background. Flashback will show you how a person became this vengeful spirit. Many of these backstories have beautiful cinematic animation. The portrayal of their back story through beautiful cinematics makes it a better experience.
Facial expression, animation, and character designs are pretty good. Kena is cute and likable. The game will throw bits of her history at you but not as much as other characters. She is the character that players spend most of the time with yet, most of her background is shrouded in history. More information about her background could have made her character a lot better. The premise makes you think Is Kena: Bridge of Spirits worth it? There is more to it.
The game takes place in a multi-regional environment that is split into major zones. Players will linearly go through them. You would need a certain amount of items to open the next area. Getting an upgrade will also help you in accessing new areas. These upgrades will be provided to you as you progress so you don’t have to worry about searching for them. Before getting to the next area you have to defeat the boss of that area to get to the next zone. It is a simple process but it works well for the game.
Combat of Kena: Bridge of Spirits is fast and simple but it is also challenging even on normal difficulty. The art design and animation of the game are amazing as mentioned earlier but the high bar it sets for other aspects of the game makes it unbalanced. The combat is not clunky but it is not the best just good enough. The major issue with combat is the fact that there is a limited variety of attacks. You will get fed up with combat in the first hours.
There are heavy attacks, light attacks, and staff that can be used as the bow. That’s all that the combat has to offer. The limited combat verity feels bad and does not sit well with other aspects of the game. Is Kena: Bridge of Spirits worth it to you based on what you know so far? Well, there is still more to it.
There is only one weapon in the game and it does not become better even by the time the credits roll. You can upgrade different attacks but it still does not make much difference. Some of these upgrades are bad and it feels like you should have them from the start. Even special parrying is generic parrying that does not feel any different. The Pulse acts as a shield that can help you locate objectives and clues as well. It also acts as a parry when activated before an attack land. There is also a courage meter that lets you do more powerful attacks.
The Powerful Attacks
You have the option to fire up to three shots. You will quickly regain all these arrows back so you don’t have to worry much about losing them. There is also the option of charged shot which consumes one stack of courage and lets you do big damage. The Hammer strike lets you damage multiple enemies with a single strike. Jumping in the air while aiming a bow can slow down time which can help you hit weak points. There is also the option of activating slow motion without jumping. Landing attacks feel good and the feedback of attacks is also quite good.
Enemies and Bosses
Kena: The Bridge of Spirits has challenging combat that can feel hard at times. Playing on low-level difficulty can make it very easy while playing it on higher difficulty can make it harder. So there is a balance issue with the difficulty setting which can get a little frustrating. There is a lot of enemy verity in the game which can work against the limited verity of combat. After a while, you start to see new enemies which force you to change tactics like Returnal. Changing tactics with such a small variety of moves can feel bad but the large enemy verity and the way they attack makes it feel better. You have to use fewer moves to get success.
Boss battles are good and there is a lot of verities as every boss is different. There are lots of boss battles and some of the smaller bosses will become regular enemies later on. There is boss verity but not much motivation in combat due to the small variety of moves available. Combat can feel bland when compared with other aspects of the game. Resources can get scarce once you progress enough in the game. You will have the choice of either healing, immobilizing enemies, or doing damage similar to souls-like games. So making careful decisions in combat are important. Is Kena: Bridge of Spirits worth it to you for its enemy’s variety? Let’s discuss some more aspects of it.
Sprits are not just working against you but with you as well. Kena can use little spirits known as Rots, these spirits can aid her in both combat and general gameplay. Using Rots consumes courage and they can be pretty handy if used wisely. They are cute small spirits that aid you in battle by swarming and locking enemies down. Rots can immobilize enemies which gives you a chance to attack them from behind, their weak spots, or focus on clearing smaller enemies. Rots can also help in healing, they will cleanse an area during combat. Standing in that area will heal Kena but there are two such spots at best in every combat area.
Courage meter literally means courage as it dictates the courage your spirits have. The more courage they have the more will be your chances of attack. Courage helps you control Rots and it generates as you deal damage. Courage will embolden Rots enabling them to get between you and the enemies. You also have the option of detonating the bomb but using a charge shot is much better. There are also cosmetics available for Rots. These cosmetics are different types of hats that players can find throughout the world. You can have up to 100 Rots and the amount of Rots you have can increase their effectiveness.
There are puzzles, exploration, platforming, and combat in the game though combat is not its strong suit. The gameplay will keep on rotating so you won’t get stuck with one type of scenario. After solving a puzzle you don’t have to solve another puzzle as the next step would always be something else. Ending platforming will not lead you to another such sequence as there is always something different. The game will keep on changing the pace to keep the experience fresh.
Rots play an important role both in gameplay and in the story. They can help in moving things out of the way to clear the path or create an area for you to stand. Just like Kena, Rots are also mysterious you won’t know who Rots are and why they are there. The ability to use the bow as a grappling hook or spirit bomb to create paths seems good in the beginning. However, later on, it starts to become a repeatable experience as all of the platforming follows the same pattern. Is Kena: Bridge of Spirits worth it to you for its general gameplay? Let’s disuses this a little more before concluding.
Animation, Music, and Spirits
The art design and animation of the Kena: Bridge of Spirits are amazing and I cannot stress it enough. Its animation and art style makes it feel closer to an animated movie rather than a video game. Ratchet & Clank Rift Apart also felt like an animated movie. However, Kena: Bridge of Spirits takes it to the next level thanks to developers’ vast experience in animation. Everything looks amazing and the world of the game feels more like a character rather than a setting. It excites you to look at every nook and cranny of the map just to see how it looks.
The music of the game is good and in intense sequences, it can feel epic. It will support everything happening on the screen and will not feel out of place. The game has traditional-style music that is soothing and exciting. The humming and music work well with each other which results in a good outcome. Music makes its art style and animation all the better. It has good music but you should not expect Doom Eternal experience.
In each area, you will come across corrupt spirits as mentioned earlier. You will need to clear corruption in that area for enemies to materialize. To save that spirit you would have to know what went wrong for them. Through flashbacks, you will get the clues of their life which will help you cleanse them. You will meet characters close to these spirits which makes some interesting scenes and make the story arks better.
Exploration is not rewarding enough. The multi-regional map of Kena: Bridge of Spirits has lots of secrets but these are not as extensive as other such games. The only collectibles in the game are hats for Rots and currency to buy more hats. These hats seem good in the beginning but later on, they start having a bad impression since there is no other collectible. Not collecting any of them won’t impact your playthrough as you get most of the important upgrades in the story. Curse chests offer challenging combat that is quite fun but the rewards for that are also hats. So collectibles are all about hats.
The thing that encourages exploration is the beauty of the game’s world. You would want to see what the world has to offer as it is a beautifully crafted world. You will want to explore every part of the map just to see the beauty of the world. Every part of the map has a good art design which encourages exploration. The only thing that can be helpful in combat when it comes to exploration is meditation spots. These spots can increase your maximum health. Is Kena: Bridge of Spirits worth it to you for all that you know so far? Let’s conclude.
Kena: Bridge of Spirits is a good game that feels more like a Pixar animated than a video game. It combines fantastic art design and world design with amazing animation. The result of this combination is a game that feels and plays like a classic Zelda game yet looks much better. The combination of its puzzles, action, and exploration worthy world makes it an amazing experience. The story of the game wraps up nicely even if the ending feels rushed.
Its combat, however, cannot keep up with the ambition of its looks. At times it can feel that combat is dragging the game. It has challenging combat that lacks balance and variety which can make the experience a bit bland experience. Kena’s background remains a mystery even when the credits roll. The game takes 9 to 15 hours depending on how much players explore. Despite having some setbacks the game does an amazing job to deliver its promises.
Now let’s answer the question “Is Kena: Bridge of Spirits worth it?” If you are a fan of Zelda-like games then it can be a good one for you. If you are looking for a game with a good art design that provides a refreshing experience then it could be the game for you. It is also a game for players who are looking for a light-hearted experience that feels more like an animated movie. In short, Kena: Bridge of Spirits is a game for players who are into an adventure game that has amazing art design and animation.