“Kena: Bridge of Spirits”: a new adventure game with a fantasy spin

Kena: Bridge of Spirits is a new adventure game that allows players to help lost souls find their way.

“Kena: Bridge of Spirits” is a new adventure game that allows players to help lost souls find their way.

In recent years, independent games have increased their footprint in the video game industry by providing adventures that are creative in their gameplay and storytelling. “Kena: Bridge of Spirits” is no different. 

Developer Ember Lab’s first game is a unique adventure, with beautiful environments, challenging puzzles and rewarding exploration. You might encounter a few mechanical problems along the way, however for every aspect “Kena: Bridge of Spirits” falters in, there are many more where it succeeds.

In the world of Kena, wooden masks are created to honor those who have passed away. They are placed on sacred shrines to symbolize the journey into the next life. Some spirits, however, are unable to move on because of guilt and tragedies from their past. As those spirits grow stronger, they become dangerous and corrupt the land around it. We play as spirit guide, Kena, in which her only goal is to help the troubled souls and cleanse the land they have corrupted. 

No game is perfect, therefore there are elements where “Kena: Bridge of Spirits” could improve upon. Gameplay-wise, the progression system is quite simple. You carry a bow and a staff which can be improved through time, however the new abilities you gain do not seem to make a meaningful impact on the way the game is played. 

Additionally, you might find some minor mechanical problems during battles. Kena might unleash her attack on the wrong opponent or sometimes your shield may not show up the time you need it. 

Although the gameplay has some minor problems, the strengths of its exploration, puzzles and environment more than make up for them. Curiosity in this world is very rewarding. As you explore the forest in Kena, you’ll find meditation spots to increase your health and “Rots”, which are small spirit companions that assist you in battle. 

The exploration in the game wouldn’t be as interesting if it wasn’t for the rich environments you will encounter. Every cave, lake and mountain are detailed and heightens the sense of discovery making the game enjoyable even outside of battles. Additionally, the puzzles you are required to solve rely on contextual challenges and they never seem forced. They fit perfectly in the world of Kena. 

What makes “Kena: Bridge of Spirits” stand out from most indie games are the animations both in gameplay and cutscenes. That is no surprise knowing that Ember Lab started off as an animation studio. The character designs are so well crafted that sometimes it looks like they came straight out of a Pixar movie. On top of that, the soundtrack is also a positive. It gets more intense when danger is near but it is also relaxing when the dust settles and you are given a moment to explore.

In the end, “Kena: Bridge of Spirits” is a great first entry in the video game industry for Ember Lab. Some gameplay aspects could be improved upon, however the creativity displayed on puzzles, environment and story wash away any negative you might have on the game. If you are looking for a first-person story driven adventure, this will be right up your alley.