Review | Kena: Bridge of Spirits
"Dig in and guide those spirits to a better tomorrow. Kena can be your fix for those long-lost platforming days, but at the same time it can be your problem if you want something new and exciting."
A lot of fond memories comes to mind when I think about my early gaming days. Majority of that included cute platformers such as (well, Super Mario, but let’s go beyond) Croc, Gex, Crash, Spyro, Bugs Bunny Lost in Time, Skull Monkeys… There were all something else back then. Kena stimulated that part of my brain and feelings when I saw its first trailer, and now we can finally talk about this game and what is up!
First of all, let’s say that Kena is another cross-gen title, first project from Ember Studios and it’s considered an indie title. Will all this being said, we can dig deeper, and I promise to take it short this time – short game + lack of time = short review.
Cartoons will have to crank it up a notch. Look at the occasional beauty that is Kena and the world it holds.
Kena: Bridge of Spirits is a story about young Kena, a spirit guide who will guide spirits to their final resting place and ease their suffering in the “between” world. The concept mentioned is divided through Village regions where you need to guide those spirits while taking care of corrupted forests, mountains and what’s left of the world anyway.
In terms of story, I can’t say I’ve enjoyed it, nor I can say a lot on this topic. Nothing impressed me, NPCs are just so transparent, and I already forgot about them. Although that is the case, I really enjoyed some music tracks, which combined perfectly with some of the scenes. It even made me feel a certain sadness when I imagined the loneliness and those feelings that were tingled inside of me through the events. Kena had it rough, and loss is always a hard feeling to deal with.
Playing Kena is all about the level design, collecting stuff and progressing, so let’s leave the storytelling and dig into that.
Nature is the most beaituful game aphrodisiac you can use to hook your players. It's all green and nice, who can say no to that? Double jump is here as well! Only issue I had with jumping around was being able to jump on objects that are not meant to be jumped upon (you will often see Kena "falling" and then reset the position)
PS5 version of the game works stable. It also looks nice, but you can clearly see some cross-gen limitations and far-away low-res models. None of that is a real problem, and for sure there is a lot to admire while playing Kena. I personally really love when I’m surrounded by nature, and this game is all about that. If you love the greenery, you bought the right game. Plus, if this is a hint of how games will look on the next-gen, I’m all for it.
What is missing here is the depth. There is no real challenge, platforming has already been seen and taken from other games such as Horizon (shoot at certain weak points, slow time when aiming with your bow etc.), or climbing walls like in Prince of Persia. All of that is just weak, and the puzzles you need to solve are almost non-existing or just too simple. It’s all fun and cool, but the real shallowness really bugged me. I don’t have much to say about the combat either, but I will just say – play on some higher difficulty. The lower ones are made without any sense, it all comes down to mashing buttons.
It’s a simple, cute game. That is it, a simple and a cute game that you finish in 1-2 days and probably never look back (unless you want the platinum trophy, for which you need to beat the game on highest difficulty unlocked after beating the game once).
I think the most boring part of the game are those boss and random fights. Simple, boring, mashing.
The one thing I really loved here was collecting stuff. There are no pointers and markers that I usually hate from the bottom of my guts. Instead, you need to look for every nook and cranny to find those Rots, Hats, Boxes… I loved it, it made me feel good about exploring (finally). This means a lot to me, and I’m sure you can all agree – When you need to explore and peak inside every jar there is, the game automatically gains on quality (if the game is good of course). You will simply play different, look everywhere, try everything, check all areas; you will get to know the game and enjoy its scenery. When they point you everywhere, you lose that bond and initiative with time.
Skills will help you, but you can live without them. Collecting Rots (small fury black-mini-egg-plan-puffs) is fun, and collecting stuff in this game is its best feature.
If you just take the main path, you can finish the game in about 6 hours. Yeah, quite weak. But, collecting everything and exploring as you should – about 15 hours (depending how good you are at finding stuff, and how fast you want to be).
Is it worth it? I would say so. The game is also cheaper than AAA titles and that is a good motivation to buy it, plus it’s a solid platformer with cute graphics and some solid (but not solid enough) concepts. Don’t expect the highest quality, deep combat system, awesome puzzles and you are good to go. If you are a casual gamer, you will maybe even appreciate it even more, but for hardcore gamers such as myself; it takes more to impress us.
The time has come where our games looks better than some cartoons. And to play them while having that in mind… Man, that’s some cool times we all live in.
"Decent platformer which can show us how good the games can look, and at the same time how can they steal from other games and do it worse."
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