The action-adven­ture game, Kena: Bridge of Spir­its, is much more than I had orig­i­nal­ly antic­i­pat­ed. I expect­ed a whim­si­cal gala­vant through a fan­ta­sy land, which is par­tial­ly true. What I did not expect was how fan­tas­tic the entire­ty of the game would end up being; every minute detail in the game adds up, tru­ly mak­ing it a unique, invig­o­rat­ing expe­ri­ence. There is some­thing so pure about Kena: Bridge of Spir­its, which you could­n’t imag­ine com­ing from a game that cen­ters around death. Kena, the main pro­tag­o­nist in this sto­ry, is a spir­it guide. She is lit­er­al­ly the bridge that strand­ed spir­its need to pass to the life after–and this is what I believe brought on the title of this game.

Kena: Bridge Of Spirits Review - Don't Let Those Angry Spirits Bring You Down

Kena arrives to an unknown loca­tion, a long for­got­ten vil­lage that has seen unfor­tu­nate tragedy hun­dreds of years pri­or. The land is cor­rupt­ed by an evil spir­it that wish­es to keep all spir­its bound to their place of death, instead of let­ting them move on. She must work her way through the vast fields, forests, ruins, and cave areas to release them from this cor­rup­tion. Kena accom­plish­es this by using a pow­er­ful, mag­i­cal staff that once belonged to her father, who was also a spir­it guide. Along the way she does meet help­ful spir­its who assist her in learn­ing more abil­i­ties from her staff. Since I’m not one to spoil the whole adven­ture, you’ll have to check it out for yourself.

Kena: Bridge Of Spirits Review - Don't Let Those Angry Spirits Bring You Down
The first cor­rupt­ed spir­it seen in the game.

One of the most help­ful lit­tle guys of this land are love­ly sprites called Rot. They can be found through­out the game and play a major role in how Kena inter­acts with the envi­ron­ment. They are also super cute and can even have hats applied to them, adding to their adorable fea­tures. The Rot move items, break items, and flip switch­es. They can also trans­form into their “orig­i­nal form”, which allows Kena to access build­ings and obtain upgrade mate­ri­als, as well as in-game cur­ren­cy. How­ev­er, their most impor­tant usage is dur­ing com­bat. Rot can com­bine with the pow­ers from the staff, cre­at­ing effec­tive dam­age. This is extreme­ly use­ful against the numer­ous mini-boss­es that need be fought through­out the game.

Inter­ac­tions with the environment.

Com­bat in gen­er­al can be dif­fi­cult, with cer­tain ene­mies requir­ing all skills to be tak­en into account. This actu­al­ly makes for a great com­bat chal­lenge, one that I haven’t come up against since Retur­nal. The Rot need ener­gy for Kena to be able to use their pow­er­ful attacks. In order to obtain this ener­gy dur­ing bat­tle, Kena must deal dam­age, take down ene­mies, and/or destroy crit­i­cal parts of an ene­my. Ear­ly mini-boss­es even­tu­al­ly become more wide­ly seen the fur­ther through the sto­ry you get, so remem­ber­ing these ene­mies moves makes it eas­i­er to take them down.

Dodg­ing and block­ing are cru­cial to Kena’s sur­vival, but there is some trou­ble with these ele­ments of com­bat. Dodg­ing many of the attacks does­n’t real­ly mat­ter, since most of larg­er adver­saries can jump right to Kena’s dodge loca­tion. When deal­ing with a sin­gle ene­my, it’s not hard to avoid sev­er­al attacks in a row. It’s when tak­ing on a large ene­my, plus the addi­tion of sev­er­al annoy­ing ankle bit­ters (which won’t stop respawn­ing) that this becomes a much more dif­fi­cult task. There is also an attack sequence for one of the main boss­es that is rather irri­tat­ing to avoid, as it just seems to hone in–with very lit­tle wig­gle room to dodge it. 

Kena: Bridge Of Spirits Review - Don't Let Those Angry Spirits Bring You Down

On the flip side, block­ing is not typ­i­cal at all. Kena will throw up a bub­ble that will take the next hit. This bub­ble is not infi­nite, instead being tied to a type of “sta­mi­na” bar. Once that bar is deplet­ed, Kena can no longer use that pro­tec­tion. She can also time her blocks right before attacks phys­i­cal­ly land, push­ing the ene­my back or send­ing its own pro­jec­tile return­ing to it. This kind of block­ing falls in line with oth­er video games that share Bridge of Spir­its genre, but tim­ing needs to be pre­cise because there isn’t a win­dow in which this type of block­ing will work. I strug­gled with this a bit, because I use this spe­cif­ic kind block­ing as my main source of sur­viv­ing dif­fi­cult com­bat sit­u­a­tions (if it’s avail­able of course). It requires such an exact tim­ing it real­ly can’t be used dur­ing cer­tain bat­tles and I just can’t seem to get it down pat. 

While there are a few hic­cups in the com­bat sys­tem, when com­bined with the rest of the game, it’s still real­ly special. 

Aside from the com­bat, the game is just over­all beau­ti­ful. Kena’s move­ments are flu­id and the beau­ti­ful blue that rep­re­sents her abil­i­ties brings calm to me, as well as the land. All the cutscenes are gor­geous, crisp, and the char­ac­ters have a great amount of detail. All the areas you come across have unique char­ac­ter­is­tics, like ruins, water­falls, fields, a har­bor, and plen­ty of wood­en structures.

  • Kena: Bridge Of Spirits Review - Don't Let Those Angry Spirits Bring You Down
  • Kena: Bridge Of Spirits Review - Don't Let Those Angry Spirits Bring You Down
  • Kena: Bridge Of Spirits Review - Don't Let Those Angry Spirits Bring You Down
  • Kena: Bridge Of Spirits Review - Don't Let Those Angry Spirits Bring You Down
  • Kena: Bridge Of Spirits Review - Don't Let Those Angry Spirits Bring You Down
  • Kena: Bridge Of Spirits Review - Don't Let Those Angry Spirits Bring You Down
  • Kena: Bridge Of Spirits Review - Don't Let Those Angry Spirits Bring You Down
  • Kena: Bridge Of Spirits Review - Don't Let Those Angry Spirits Bring You Down
  • Kena: Bridge Of Spirits Review - Don't Let Those Angry Spirits Bring You Down
  • Kena: Bridge Of Spirits Review - Don't Let Those Angry Spirits Bring You Down

It’s obvi­ous that the Ember Lab got inspi­ra­tion from Japan and Bali, which only adds to the beau­ty of the game, as well as its calm­ing affect. While the art style is more ani­mat­ed, there is still a lev­el of detail that is great­ly appre­ci­at­ed. One of my favorite graph­i­cal aspects of this game is that the Rot accu­mu­lat­ed are like trav­el bud­dies. They can be seen pop­ping up through­out the journey–sitting on rocks, shelves, and numer­ous oth­er objects Kena walks past–while a small horde of them fol­lows you around. The Rot even go swim­ming with Kena, and I could­n’t help but laugh loud­ly when I saw them slow­ly pad­dling to me with their cute stub­by arms and legs. 

Kena: Bridge Of Spirits Review - Don't Let Those Angry Spirits Bring You Down
A pack of swim­ming Rots. 

The only neg­a­tive when it comes to graph­ics is this ran­dom stut­ter­ing. It hap­pens when pass­ing through cer­tain areas, and I feel it has a lot to do with the Rot that have to con­sis­tent­ly be mov­ing around the map. The cutscenes also stut­ter some­times, but they quick­ly recov­er. I nev­er had a prob­lem with skip­ping when in battle.

All in all, Kena: Bridge of Spir­its is a well-round­ed game that keeps the game intrigu­ing with the usage of you’re friend­ly Rots and the amaz­ing com­bat. The explo­ration fac­tor is an added bonus, and I nev­er felt like I was just stuck doing the sto­ry. You have the free­dom to do as you please, and it’s always nice to be able to look for chests or oth­er Rot when you just want to relax and lis­ten to that sooth­ing in-game music. That being said, if you’re look­ing for a PS5 game play, and you’re not afraid of a chal­lenge, try this game out. If you’re a com­ple­tion­ist like myself, there is plen­ty of space to explore to search for items. Bet­ter yet, if you’re into get­ting Plat­inums, this is 100% the game for you. For a $40 price tag, this game is total­ly worth it.