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A heartwarming movie was packed into this game

With properly dosed sweetness, almost anything can be sold, primarily if the raw material is provided by those at home in the world of animated films. However, the unique video game of Ember Lab can still show something new. We tried Kena: Bridge of Spirits, which can also be played on PlayStation 5.

In the gaming world, not only do studios with a lot of money get a job, but quite often, they also involve small, independent (so-called indie) teams if their idea is unique enough and has imagination in it. The Human Lab project, which employed only 14 people, excelled in both, so nothing stood in the way of the guard to carve out the game software that could be purchased from its plans. The first frames of Kena: Bridge of Spirits were unveiled in 2020, which immediately enchanted the audience. Thanks to the novelty of a studio that is also excellent for directing.

It’s a movie, and it’s a game.

The Kena has officially appeared in last year’s holiday season, but due to the difficulties caused by a coronavirus outbreak of the team total of three times was forced to postpone the premiere. It so happened that the game finally became available now in September, now complete in fact. I don’t know what state the program was in during the slips, but it might not matter. The result is much more important than that. And that brings the atmosphere and quality precisely, as the first previews showed:

Scenes evoking the world of animated films, however, should not deceive anyone. Kena is a taste-and-blood action-adventure game with an extraordinary protagonist: the task of the hero we manage (Kena) is to help the restless souls stuck among the living to the afterlife. Of course, the process only seems peaceful at times: some do not want to go at all. We can, of course, have some insight into them as a result of some violence, which is accompanied by some actors – the so-called rots.

Agile, big-eyed, hairy creatures are everywhere, and of course, they help. At the same time, they embody the most lovable part of the game. Human Lab has mastered how to maximize the sweetness factor of a product with a masterful sense so that the older age group is also encouraged to try it out. But the sweetness is just one, as Kena has also been given an excellent musical background and visual world that looks amazingly even on a smaller monitor. (The exact technical data is listed in a few paragraphs below.)

© Ember Lab

Part of the gameplay

The Kena, unlike most indie immediately from creation, brings people into the thick of events while making sure it is in a unique environment at all times. Fighting accordingly takes place over the shoulder (i.e., we see the actual character, not just his hands or weapons), and interaction-sensitive points swim in or flash. So it is with the stick in our hand, which is the protagonist’s most important weapon. Interestingly, we can later carve a bow from the otherwise melee tool.

Fighting is a widespread game element, but it doesn’t offer as diverse possibilities as seeing in a shooting, fighting program. On the other hand, it can’t be said to be wrong or weak: the user can perform two types of attacks (a more vital button is pressed for a longer time), and he can throw grenades, and if the situation seems too risky, he can immediately shield himself. And the bad guys can be confused by the rats:

the little creatures then immediately jump against his neck, and we can happily beat him flat, without any risk.

However, the game also throws in front of main enemies that are no longer so easy to deal with. Here, it is worth using all of our abilities, including defense. As a plus point, we appreciated that bosses (i.e., more significant, more vigorous opponents) shouldn’t just be puffed up; they need to experience their weaknesses and attack them. While none of these characters seemed too complicated, the game also offers an easy, specifically narrative level that can make progress much faster.

© Ember Lab

And the other

The Kena moves back and forth between sections is supplemented with puzzles, where a couple of times have to think about. In these minutes, the agility of our fingers matters the least, while orientation and spatial vision matter the most. For most of the puzzles, you also have to throw the rots because they will be the ones who move a heavier stone away so that we can jump on it to a higher point. On the other hand, the user has to realize that the game only makes slight hints – but there are few.

In addition to solving puzzles, you can open and open meditation points and chests. The former is essential for increasing our vitality, and the latter is necessary for the supplements we can add. We can also find hats that can be given up for rats, with which pocket monsters can become even cuter. However, there is no practical benefit to either.

Awesome sight

The quality of the visual world offered by Kena has already been mentioned briefly, but now we will go into the details. Starting with the fact that it is difficult to relate to the graphics of the game, it is also advisable to play the transition videos. This is because the developers did a superhuman job; often, the user may feel that the product purchased is a movie packed in a film, so they don’t get a single thing for their money.

And this feeling accompanies one to the last frame.

The unique medium will be the best on the most powerful machine. Still, in the case of Kena, there is a fantastic point here as well: the program can be played not only on PlayStation but also on a Windows-based PC. On more expensive computers, almost an animated movie experience can be achieved even during combat. Still, those who start the software from a console shouldn’t complain either: the more stable / smoother mode due to the two displays, or the slower but native 4K image is also available. And the benefits of the PS5, such as fast charging or adaptive triggering, can be taken advantage of here as well.

© Ember Lab

The verdict

Overall, Kena: Bridge of Spirits is a fantastic experience discovered during the test, but no minor flaws reduce it. One of them is that the game offers only 8-10 hours of adventure, there are no multiple endings, and the gameplay isn’t varied. Probably this is why the pricing was as follows: 13,800 forints for the PC (digital) version and 13,990 for the console. The game’s slightly more expensive deluxe edition is also available, with a music insert from the developers included with the program.

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