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Game review – Kena: Bridge of Spirits (PS4 Pro & PS5)
Mon, 4th Oct 2021
FYI, this story is more than a year old

While there are many great PS5 games out there, a lot of them are based on famous franchises. Over the last year, we've had good PS5 games like Ratchet - Clank: Rift Apart, Spider-Man: Miles Morales and even the Demon's Souls remake.

However, there have been quite a few new IPs that people have enjoyed. One is Returnal which is the most difficult game I've played all year. September has been a great month though, with Deathloop and now Kena: Bridge of Spirits.

When Kena: Bridge of Spirits was first revealed, I loved the game's artistic style. The game looked like it was a Pixar movie, and it was using the in-game PS5 graphics. I was hoping the graphics were real and that we wouldn't see a visual downgrade upon release.

Thankfully, the full game is now out and Kena: Bridge of Spirits truly looks phenomenal if you are playing on the PS5 console. The game can run at a native 4K at 30fps, or you can play at 60fps with a slightly lower resolution.

While I couldn't play the game on PC, I also tested it out on the PS4 Pro. To my amazement, the PS4 version still looks like an animated Hollywood movie too.  Unlike the PS5 version though, the PS4 iteration can only be played at 30fps. You don't have to worry too much if you don't own a PS5 yet, as I thought the PS4 version looked good too.

One thing I liked most about Kena: Bridge of Spirits is its pretty environments. PlayStation consoles may not be able to play Legend of Zelda games, but this game looks like it was developed by a Nintendo studio. I would even go as far as saying this game is prettier to look at than even Ratchet - Clank: Rift Apart.

In terms of its story, players assume the role of a character named Kena. She has been placed in a forgotten land that has been full of corruption. Using her special powers, Kena can free the land of corruption to return the world to its original natural glory. It is similar to how Amaterasu had to cleanse the world of darkness in Okami.

As for gameplay, the game is just as good to play as it is to marvel at its visuals. I was a little worried at the start though, because the game doesn't include a map at the very beginning. However, my fears were put to rest because a helpful map is included once you get past the tutorial stages.

Controlling Kena is similar to the combat seen in Horizon: Zero Dawn, in my opinion. This is because Kena uses a staff for melee attacks and a bow and arrow for long-range combat. You attack using the R1 and R2 buttons. Kena can also dodge roll using the circle button, and pressing L1 conjures up a helpful shield bubble.

The great thing about using the bow and arrow is that you don't have to worry about ammo at all. The arrows can be replenished over time via a cooldown period. Another cool weapon that you unlock later on is bombs. These bombs can be used to solve puzzles or to damage the weak parts of some enemies and bosses.

The more you play the game, the better it gets because you can unlock better skills and abilities. The bubble shield is helpful mainly because you can use it to parry boss attacks. You can even slow down time to make aiming the bow and arrow easier to exploit the weak points of certain enemies.

While it may look like a simple game on the surface, I'm happy to say Kena: Bridge of Spirits is more challenging than I instantly thought. The bosses are no pushovers because they can damage Kena a lot by using unblockable one-hit shots. The challenge is even harder if you opt to play the game on its highest difficulty setting.

A good portion of the game also requires Kena to use help from small animals called ‘Rot'. They are cute black furry creatures that help her cleanse the world of corruption. They can also aid her during boss battles as the Rot can distract enemies allowing Kena to strike back with ease.

Another thing I liked about the game is that it's not all about the combat. A sizable chunk of the game requires you to explore the open-world terrain to solve puzzles. It sometimes feels like you're playing a Tomb Raider game as Kena will have to climb and jump to traverse to higher ground at times.

Travelling the world also does not feel too long and tedious because the open-world environment isn't as unnecessarily too large like an Assassin's Creed game. Kena can also use Warp Points to fast travel to other areas she has passed by. If you want to go back and do some quests you may have missed out on the first time, this is a helpful tool.

There aren't many negative points that I can say about Kena: Bridge of Spirits. The only thing I didn't like about the game was the lack of hints when solving puzzles. It would have been helpful if you pressed a button and Kena gave you a little clue on what to do next.

The game is also kind of short as you can complete it in around 10 to 12 hours. That being said, this game was developed by a small indie studio, so it's expected that it'll be shorter compared to other AAA style action RPGs out there.

All in all, Kena: Bridge of Spirits is one of the best looking games I've played in 2021, and the gameplay is also phenomenal. If you love games like the Legend of Zelda series, you should play this game as soon as possible.

Verdict: 8.5/10