Kena: Bridge of Spirits
After a couple of delays, Kena: Bridge of Spirits finally launches next week, September 21. It’s been a long time coming for the whimsical game, which was initially revealed alongside the PlayStation 5 and positioned to launch alongside it. We featured the title on our cover, but we’d forgive you if your memory has become hazy. Fear not, this handy primer should catch you up on the main beats if you're still on the fence about whether or not Kena's adventure is for you.
Who Is Making Kena: Bridge of Spirits?
Kena is the debut title by Ember Lab, a small studio founded in 2009 by brothers Mike and Josh Grier. The company primarily specializes in creating animated content for conglomerates such as Coca-Cola, MLB, and KFC. Perhaps the studio's most famous work is an animated short film based on The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask that went viral in 2016. With Kena, the studio is applying its animation and world-building chops to game development for the first time.
Who Is Kena?
Kena (pronounced “kay-na”) is a young spirit guide and the hero of the adventure. She’s responsible for helping troubled spirits transition peacefully into the afterlife. When someone dies with unresolved problems or traumas, their spirit can become trapped between the realms of the living and the dead. Lingering ghosts may cause trouble for living people, so Kena helps solve whatever issues they have to ensure a pleasant trip to the next life. Kena is also the only person capable of cleansing an all-consuming blight that gradually overtakes the world.
What's The Story?
Believe it or not, we still don’t know a ton about Kena’s plot outside of its setup. Kena travels to an abandoned village far from her homeland in search of a sacred mountain shrine. The surrounding land is suffering from a mysterious curse that turns corrupted spirits into dangerous monstrosities. She’s the only one who can cure it and sets out to do just that.
What Kind Of Game Is It?
Kena is a third-person action-adventure game. Combat involves executing basic melee combos of light and heavy attacks using Kena’s magic staff. She can also turn her staff into a spirit bow for a ranged offense. Kena also boasts an arsenal of spirit abilities, such as the pulse bubble that can parry incoming attacks, and she can conjure a spirit dragon to provide extra combat muscle. Outside of battle, players climb, shimmy, and jump around their surroundings in a manner similar to the Uncharted series while also solving environmental puzzles to access new areas. Kena can also use her powers to purify paths blocked by corrupted growth. You'll also help restless souls find peace by curing whatever ails them while gradually rebuilding and repopulating the abandoned village, which serves as your hub area.
Is Kena Set In A Big Open-World?
Nope. Former Game Informer editor Jeff Cork best summarized Kena’s world design as “wide linear” in our cover story. You’ll follow a clear critical path but can branch off to explore alternate routes that may lead to goodies such as hidden Rot.
Rot? What Are They?
The Rot are the other stars of the game. They’re tiny adorable creatures responsible for decomposition, breaking down decaying materials to make way for new life. Thus, they compliment Kena’s job in maintaining the cycle of life, death, and rebirth. When Kena bonds with these critters, they’ll tag along to assist with combat and puzzle-solving. In battle, the Rot are too shy to lend an immediate helping hand, but successively landing attacks fills a meter indicating Rot courage. Once full, players can call upon the Rot to augment their attacks to dish out more potent forms of offense. You can also send the Rot to distract enemies, forcing them to drop their defenses to provide windows of attack.
Up to 100 Rot can be obtained, with 60 of them being optional. You’ll find Rot hiding under rocks, inside of hanging fruits, and other nooks and crannies. The more Rot you have, the more powerful your attacks become and the more helping hands you have outside of battle. You can even personalize the Rot by purchasing a variety of cute hats for them to wear.
Hats? Does That Mean Microtransactions?
There are no microtransactions in Kena: Bridge of Spirits. You buy items from vendors using in-game currency.
Can The Rot Die?
No, thankfully. While the Rot share gameplay similarities to Pikmin, these little guys aren’t nearly as fragile, so you don’t have to worry about losing your cute companions in battle. Feel free to throw them at as many monsters as you see fit!
How Long Is Kena And How Much Does It Cost?
Ember Labs has stated that Kena takes between 8-10 hours to finish and closer to 12 hours for completionists. The budget price reflects that scope at $39.99 across all platforms. There’s also a $49.99 Deluxe Edition.
What Platforms Is Kena Available On?
Kena: Bridge of Spirits is coming to PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, and PC via the Epic Games Store. It is a digital-only game, but Ember Lab has suggested it may get a physical release down the road.
What Are The Differences Between PS5 And PS4?
We haven’t seen footage of the game running on PS4, but we know that on PS5, you’ll see more Rot represented on screen, and foliage appears denser. The DualSense controller’s haptic feedback creates realistic tension when pulling back on the bowstring as well as other sensory features.
You can read more stories chock full of info about Kena: Bridge of Spirits by visiting our exclusive cover story hub.