Kena: Bridge of Spirits Evaluation (PS5)
Kena: Bridge of Spirits was positioned by Sony as a key sport coming to PlayStation 5. Whereas it is nice that the corporate places some indie titles on the identical degree as triple-A experiences, it may typically result in inflated expectations. Developer Ember Lab’s debut sport has all the time seemed incredible within the lead as much as launch, however does its gameplay match the gorgeous, whimsical artwork fashion?
The excellent news is that, on the entire, it does. With the studio’s background in animation for TV and flicks, it was nearly anticipated that this might look nice, and it does have beautiful, vibrant visuals with a lot of character. As alluded, although, the precise sport beneath the luxurious environments and expressive characters is strong good enjoyable.
You play as Kena, a younger spirit information on a quest to go to the mountain shrine. On the best way, she discovers the Rot, a species of magical creatures that provide her a serving to hand in her journey. We cannot be going over any spoilers, save to say that the story would not actually stray from what you’d anticipate; capable of assist misplaced spirits discover peace, it hits an optimistic but bittersweet tone, akin to any variety of animated movies you have seen within the final decade.
Whereas the narrative hasn’t shocked us, what has is how a lot the sport takes us again to these PS2-era motion platformers, in a great way. Assume Jak & Daxter, Sly Cooper, and even Tak and the Energy of Juju — it is in that wheelhouse. This can be a largely linear motion journey completely filled with collectibles, mild platforming, and fight arenas, all stitched collectively in a big map. The sensation of transferring by the world — looking for hidden areas, gathering the Rot, and unlocking extra paths with new talents — places us in thoughts of these old-school motion platformers. It has a simple construction, nevertheless it’s a compelling one which’ll have you ever exploring each inch of the sport for secrets and techniques.
The early influences are positively there, however that is to not say Kena hasn’t additionally borrowed from extra fashionable titles, too. Platforming, particularly whenever you’re scaling cliffs and shimmying throughout ledges, could be very Uncharted, whereas fight has your assaults on R1 and R2, placing it in keeping with any motion sport launched within the final 5 years. It pulls from every kind of locations, nevertheless it will get away with it as a result of every little thing feels good.
The fight and puzzles are the place the sport comes into its personal. The Rot is not only a cute troupe of followers, they’re helpful in every kind of how. Outdoors of fights, Kena can command them to raise and transfer heavy objects, assist discover extra Rot creatures, and rid the world of a blight recognized solely as corruption. Not one of the puzzles are significantly taxing, nevertheless it’s enjoyable interacting with the Rot, whether or not for goals or simply to loosen up. Pushing proper on the D-pad sits Kena down together with her diminutive buddies, and you’ll play some lovable animations, simply because.
When confronted with enemies, you might have mild and heavy assaults along with a block and dodge roll, however the Rot comes into play right here as effectively. Dealing and taking harm will construct braveness within the little issues, and when prepared, they will carry out an motion, equivalent to discovering flowers to replenish your well being, attacking enemies themselves, or powering up a few of your individual strikes. It provides a small layer of technique to what’s in any other case fairly customary, and surprisingly difficult, fight. Typically the actual fact you possibly can’t heal everytime you like can really feel irritating, nevertheless it’s a comparatively balanced system more often than not.
As you play, discovering extra of the Rot to degree up and utilizing Karma to improve your talents, Kena will regularly be taught extra methods, used each in fights and in exploration. For instance, the bow helps you to assault from a distance, nevertheless it additionally permits you to sling throughout the atmosphere through blue flowers, grapple hook fashion. There is a good sense of development, and all of it strikes at a good clip, conserving you engaged for the ten or so hours it takes to complete. There’s a little bit of backtracking if you wish to see and do every little thing, which might be boring when there aren’t any enemies current to maintain you in your toes. Nevertheless, warp stones at key factors allow you to quick journey round, which helps to maintain issues transferring.
Once more, the sport’s presentation is mostly superb, however we did spot one or two hiccups. Often, Kena’s motion can really feel considerably stilted, and a few of the character designs are a bit missing. Having stated that, the extent of polish is spectacular for a workforce’s debut effort, and we’ve not encountered any critical bugs in any respect. In the meantime, load instances are swift, and the DualSense’s options add some good tactile suggestions to the motion, which is all the time appreciated. Taking part in within the default efficiency mode, it runs easily at 60 frames-per-second, though we did discover some hitches when the sport autosaves.
Regardless of borrowing from all method of recent hits, Kena: Bridge of Spirits nearly stands by itself. The great visuals and music depart a powerful impression, whereas the gameplay is straightforward however pleasant. If its story went past the anticipated, and one or two small points have been scrubbed away, this might be an actual winner. As it’s, this can be a strong motion platformer with a lot of character, and a powerful debut from Ember Lab.