Kena: Bridge of Spirits – EarlyGame Review.
Zelda? Sorry new phone, who dis?
This isn’t a "These are all the attacks, here are all the collectibles, these are the riddles, 7/10, would recommend" kind of review, no: This is a 'Thank You' Review.
A Thank You to Ember Lab, the Animation Studio behind Majora’s Mask - Terrible Fate, a short film for which I alone am responsible for at least 10,000 views. Yes I love Zelda, and my 5 tattoos are here to back me up, but back to Kena:
My last few years have been nothing but Rocket League, Call of Duty and Rocket League, so Kena: Bridge of Spirits came into my life like a breeze as fresh as the wind in those forgotten woods.
You don’t have to like Ghibli's Mononoke, nor Zelda, to like this game (though it helps), no: Ember Lab knows their audience, and if you felt spoken to the second you saw the trailer for the first time, then you’re exactly where you need to be.
Kena is a super likable character, and I would have loved so much more backstory. But this isn’t me asking for the whole arm after being given a finger. I appreciate every single one of the 10 employees and what they’ve created. Yes, ten! Oh, Among Us only had 4? Well, nobody can compete with that masterpiece of storytelling, scenery, animation and score of course, I’m sorry...
The atmosphere had me in awe. Buying a PS5 on a shady parking lot at the back of a McDonald's for a price that would make my parents ask themselves where they went wrong in their parenting, I must say: It was worth every penny and tear (I don’t want to talk about the latter, thanks).
Kena was meant to be the perfect gaming session and I went all in: 60“ 4K TV, dark room, headphones, PS5, comfy lounge chair and a pack of tissues… for my happy tears, jeez mom, get out of my article!
I was as hyped as I was skeptical. What’s this gonna be? A 10-hour game, with limited movement and a generic story carried by cutscenes which make up for the lack of storytelling? Absolutely not! The rainy woods in the night, the caves, the characters, it all made me forget my doubts within seconds. The combat started dull with light attacks, heavy attacks and small enemies that were done for after 3 hits – it made me question if I even had the willpower to finish such a... bland and easy game… but after restarting a boss battle for the 50th time, I, after what felt like an eternity, was so furious that I couldn’t help but smile. It had been so long since I had to start a boss fight over and over and over again, every time inching a little closer to death, choking again and again, while thinking: "I’m not going to bed, until I kill that son of bad b*tch."
It was beautiful.
I started the game with the intention of just getting a 1-2 hour taste, and, well… the only thing that prevented me from stopping was the fear of the day of work ahead of me running on a 4-hour sleep gas tank. "Just one more checkpoint. Ok… enough. Now I REALLY do want to play THIS part though…" You know how it goes.
As for the soundtrack... it's a masterpiece! A touch of Zelda and Ghibli, but who better for a soundtrack inspiration than the godfathers of musical composition themselves? Sometimes I didn’t even want an encounter to finish because I was FEELING that JAM. Don’t even get me started with the cutscenes, either: What else can you expect from an animation studio doing video games. Take notes, Pixar, that was some good sh*t.
Ok, I have to come to an end here, so... TL; DR: I loved it all. I loved the animations, the nature, the music, the badass bosses, the collectibles, the Rots, the whole masks aspect! Slow clap, Ember Lab, you did a wonderful job and I can’t wait for what you guys & girls will have to offer next... with 11 employees. I even feel bad that we got the review code, because you deserve every penny from my piggy bank. I mean it.
Anyway, just going to publish this article, start the Kena 2 crowdfunding, and then it’s back to the game!
Thank You Ember Lab,