Kena: Bridge of Spirits

We play as the titular character, Kena the spirit guide, on her journey to the Mountain Shrine, assisting spirits in their passing. By David Reardon

“Kena: Bridge of Spirits” is a 3-D action platform game released for PlayStation consoles and Microsoft Windows. 

We play as the titular character, Kena the spirit guide, on her journey to the Mountain Shrine, assisting spirits in their passing and clearing a village of a dangerous corruption along the way. The game “Kena” sticks to tried-and-true methods of video game progression and doesn’t really add anything new to the mix. Gameplay is functional, and not very gratifying, although some abilities do bring more excitement than others once learned. The puzzle solving and hunting for collectibles was the most fun, akin to some “Legend of Zelda” games. Still, none of it feels particularly inspired. 

Perhaps the best thing about the game is the Rot, aka small Pixar-meets-Studio-Ghibli creatures you will find while exploring that follow you around as you play. The group that accompanies you grows bigger and bigger, which was the most surprising and enjoyable aspect of the game. They also serve as power-ups in combat and can be adorned with wonderful hats and masks that can be found throughout the world. 

Where “Kena” really shines is in its cinematic nature. The animations were of movie quality, with an aesthetic like that of Disney’s “Raya and the Last Dragon.” Influences from several Asian cultures are present. The game provides extremely pleasing visuals, even if they don’t feel like something we haven’t seen before. The music that accompanies the game caught my attention several times throughout the playthrough, which was a nice surprise. Too often, music fades into the background of video games and movies. Here, it was an integral part of the experience that the game was creating for the player. The story, however, leaves a bit to be desired. Kena falls flat in comparison to the other characters who we encounter. We get hints of her true purpose for finding the Mountain Shrine, but not nearly enough to flesh out her characterization. Other characters are given multiple flashbacks and relationships that motivate them, amounting to touching vignettes. Kena only exists as a side character in these stories, though that could be the point. 

Unfortunately, there is ultimately nothing that makes “Kena: Bridge of Spirits” a can’t-miss game, try as it might.


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