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Kena Bridge of Spirits Review (PS5) – Spiritual Awakening – PlayStation LifeStyle

If you were ever a fan of the PS2 era of action-adventure games such as Jak & Daxter or The Mark of Kri, then Kena: Bridge of Spirits will be right up your street. It’s a modern version of those classics but with absolutely drop-dead gorgeous Dreamworks or Pixar-style graphics and also featuring some seriously adorable new mascots.
The first thing that everyone is going to notice about the game is how it looks. The luscious green environments that you get to explore are truly special and all of the character designs are delightfully charming. The developer, Ember Lab, originally started out as an animation studio so it’s not a huge surprise that the game is phenomenally beautiful. Thankfully the gameplay is also pretty fun.
Kena Bridge of Spirits Review
The game’s protagonist, Kena, is a young spirit guide whose job it is to help spirits pass over to the other side. Whilst trying to get to a mountain shrine she finds her way blocked by an abandoned village which seems to be suffering from some kind of corruption. She’ll need to help heal the land and uncover its secrets before she can complete her quest.
At the beginning you don’t get to find out too much about Kena and who she is. She keeps her cards fairly close to her chest, but over time you’ll start to pick up some of the motivations for her journey. I do feel like it would have been better if the game had spent a bit more time on establishing her personality early on but I still found it pretty easy to warm to her character. She’s the kind of person who always wants to help others, no matter how difficult that may be.
The abandoned village acts as the game’s hub and you’ll get to travel to nearby areas to try to help the spirits, this then unlocks new places for you to explore. It’s a simple but very pleasurable gameplay loop where you’ll be venturing somewhere new, solving environmental puzzles, fighting corrupted spirits, and then unlocking a new area to do it all over again.
Kena Bridge of Spirits Review
Along your travels you’ll come across some incredibly cute little critters known as the Rot. They’re small little spirits that help to maintain the balance in the forest and once you find them they’ll follow you around. They’re a source of constant adorableness and they also come in pretty handy throughout your adventure. They can help move heavy stuff out of your way and can even help you during combat.
The Rot are a little bit timid so they won’t instantly join you in a fight. Instead, you’ll need to raise a Courage Meter by getting Kena to deal damage first. She carries a staff with her which you’ll use to whack any spirits that attack you. Combat is fairly simple to begin with; you have a light and heavy attack, as well as being able to dodge and raise an energy shield. Once your little Rot army is ready to join in you can use them to do things like bind to an enemy for a short time. This lets you safely get in a few sneaky hits without the enemy being able to fight back.
Kena Bridge of Spirits Review
Over time you’ll gain access to a couple of different weapons as well as being able to learn new moves. The combat system isn’t particularly intricate although that doesn’t stop fights from feeling frantic and fun. It definitely helps that you’ll regularly get introduced to new types of enemies which will force you to use different strategies to beat them. Some of the fights will be a lot tougher than you might expect, particularly against bosses, and you’ll need to use every tool at your disposal.
When you’re not trying to whack enemies, you’ll be exploring the forest and trying to clear the blight which has corrupted the land. This usually results in you having to solve some kind of puzzle or traverse your way across a platforming section. Neither of these things are particularly tricky as you’re given enough environmental clues to help you work out what you need to do next. It also helps that Kena is a delight to control so it feels really fun to jump between platforms and try to discover every secret of the forest.
There are absolutely loads of collectables for you to find, these mostly come in the form of new little Rot buddies and precious little hats for them to wear. You don’t really need to seek out every collectable but you’ll end up wanting to just to see their joyful little faces when you find another of their friends. It’s also lovely to be able to dress them up and then watch them run after you while wearing little cowboy hats or fox masks. As the game has an in-built photo mode you’ll constantly want to stop and take some pictures of your new little bundles of joy.
Kena Bridge of Spirits Review
 
It’s pretty amazing to think that Kena: Bridge of Spirits is Ember Lab’s very first game. With absolutely stunning visuals and impactful music this is sure to leave an impression on people. Gameplay-wise it doesn’t do anything particularly new or innovative but that doesn’t stop it from being loads of fun. This is a small adventure with enough challenge and heart to keep you entertained for the full 10–15 hours that it’ll take for you to reach its conclusion.
Kena: Bridge of Spirits review code provided by publisher. Version 1.003.000 reviewed on a PlayStation 5. For more information on scoring, please read our Review Policy.

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