Kena: Bridge of Spirits PC Review

Though it has its ups and downs, Kena: Bridge of Spirits ultimately brings exploration, puzzle-platforming and close combat in a way that feels like a magical cinematic experience.

By Yagmur, Posted 07 Apr 2022

Just one glance at Kena: Bridge of Spirits immediately reminds you of a Pixar animation. This would not be so far from the truth, though, because indeed, the developing studio of Kena: Bridge of Spirits is primarily an animation studio. Everything about this game is incredibly stunning, from the intricate details of the forest and the background to the cute little faces of the characters. If you've ever wanted to wander around within a Pixar movie, this game is a must-play. Though it is true that "everything" about the game is a cinematic masterpiece, the developing studio seems to forget about the fact that this is a game, not a movie. As far as gameplay is concerned, Kena: Bridge of Spirits, unfortunately, struggles to top the beauty of its graphics.

When I said "everything", I meant everything. Even the story sounds like something out of a Pixar film: Kena is a Spirit Guide, meaning she is the one who helps spirits when they struggle to move on to their next life because of some "unfinished business" in the material world. This "unfinished business" sometimes manifests itself in guilt, sometimes pain, sometimes loss- And it is Kena's job to uncover what hinders them from moving on and help them out. Doesn't it sound just magical?

Kena: Bridge of Spirits, Kena, Review, PC, Epic Games, Ember Lab, Maximum Games

Kena is a great character for the role that she needs to fulfill. She is selfless at times, has great morals, and is full of determination. At the same time, she is also kind and good with words in a way that does not feel forced at all. Every conversation between Kena and the souls she helps feels natural and comforting.

But alas, all is not well. I think there is a lack of backstory here. Yes, we learn a bit about her familial relations, but it is not satisfying enough. Wouldn't it be better to see where parts of her personality come from? Without knowing what shaped the character's personality, it feels like we are playing with an empty shell. Kena is a likable character for sure, but she could be a lot more relatable and engaging. 

The monsters we have to fight in this game are inarguably simple creatures with simple attacks. And can also tell the same about combat. At its core, the combat rarely goes further than light and heavy attacks, but there are a few minor mechanical tweaks that help the combat become less tedious. Some weapon upgrades are creative. Using these little creatures called Rots, the player gets the opportunity to try different kinds of attacks which are satisfying for the most part. A few small strategic choices you can make during a fight allow the player freedom and ease. So although it is simple, it is also quite fun. Yet, unfortunately, combat is where the fun of the gameplay ends. 

Kena: Bridge of Spirits, Kena, Review, PC, Epic Games, Ember Lab, Maximum Games

Though it has certain exploration elements, Kena: Bridge of Spirits is a puzzle-solving game at its core. Difficulty-wise, I'd say the puzzles are not at all balanced: They are generally really, really easy. Some of them made me think I was playing a game intended for children to play. Traveling around such a magical world is amusing, but it ceases to amuse when an easy puzzle stops you in the middle of the journey. I'm not going to say it was boring all the time- There were fun puzzles to solve, especially the ones that involve Rots, but most of the time, they felt like a waste of time.

As I said, I mainly enjoyed the puzzles with Rots on my playthrough because I think the Rots add so much to this game. Some might say that they do not add anything to the story, but I'd argue that it adds character. The puzzles mostly involve the player trying to establish a secure path for Kena to reach her destination. In this aspect, the game certainly does not differ from other puzzle-platforming games. But when the player has to use the Rots to move or hit a stone, it ceases to feel like another puzzle-platforming game and feels like Kena: Bridge of Spirits. As I said, it adds character to the game, and we all love a unique experience.

I mentioned that combat is fun and straightforward. I'm going to go ahead and add to that by bringing up everyone's favorite combat mode: Boss fights. Though combat is as simple as it can be, the bosses are not easy in this game. They are all so different, which makes the boss fights memorable- This is always a good thing! Furthermore, some bosses become mini-bosses as the game progresses, so the player is constantly reminded of how much they progressed from the beginning of the game. I find this to be a great incentive to continue as it stands as a constant reminder of how much I've grown comfortable with the game's controls and how strong I've been able to get from the beginning. It's always good to help the players to feel the progression: It feels like Kena: Bridge of Spirits is speaking to us, in a way. 

Kena: Bridge of Spirits, Kena, Review, PC, Epic Games, Ember Lab, Maximum Games

Combat and puzzles are not where it ends. There is another core aspect of this game, and that is exploration. This aspect brings about the discussion of collectibles, of course, but Kena: Bridge of Spirits takes one step further and puts an objective here: You explore not only to find useless collectibles but also to find Rots who will help you on your journey. They are not the easiest to find either; the player sometimes needs to be attentive to avoid missing these small creatures on the map. They are fun to chase around, and the fact that they help us massively makes us feel like we are contributing to the game's progression rather than aimlessly walking around.

It is important to remember just how ambitious of a game Kena: Bridge of Spirits is. It tries to achieve greatness in all aspects, balancing exploration with puzzles and a dazzlingly fascinating world on top of well-made characters. So it will inevitably have a few ups and downs here and there. Overall, the game is enjoyable to play and impressive to look at. The world is magical, the characters likable, and the combat is more fun than expected from this game. 

Yagmur Sevinc (@yagmursevvinc)
Editor, NoobFeed

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General Information

Platform(s): PC, PS5, PS4
Publisher(s): Ember Lab, Maximum Games
Developer(s): Ember Lab
Genres: Action, Adventure
Themes: Puzzle, Exploration
Release Date: 2021-09-21

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