Kena Bridge of Spirits Review Scores: Is Kena Bridge of Spirits worth it?
Kena Bridge of Spirits, the debut game from animation-studio-turned-game-developer Ember Lab, was released yesterday, and with it, of course, comes the first wave of early review scores. Kena was first seen in a Sony PlayStation State of Play and features the titular Kena, a young Spirit Guide on a quest to reach a mysterious abandoned mountain village in her search for a sacred shrine. It’s also a PlayStation console exclusive but is also available on PC via the Epic Games Store.
Kena Bridge of Spirits Review Metacritic Score: 84
Currently, Kena Bridge of Spirits is sitting on a Metacritic score of 84 based on 25 critic reviews. Most of them highly praise the game for its impressive visuals and stunning animations, though some critics feel a little more lukewarm about the title due to how much it borrows from other games in the genre. So far, reviews for the game are generally positive, and we’ve compiled some of them here.
Rachael Fiddis of DualShockers gave Kena Bridge of Spirits a perfect 100 in her review of the game, praising the game for its environmental traversal and narrative themes:
“One of the things I wasn’t prepared for in Kena: Bridge of Spirits is that even though it has bags of charm and oozing cute appeal, a really dark undercurrent flows fairly strongly throughout. As the game unfolds, you come across characters who need your help with their very own interwoven stories that are filled with grief, struggle and despair and that sees Kena explore the deeper and darker places of the map, its story and her very own narrative. Towards the end of Kena, the game took on a God of War type theme in where I was faced with pretty unnerving spirits in an all-out battle that incorporated flames and dramatic environmental elements that were reminiscent of the fiery pits of hell.
For any studio, no mind an indie studio taking on a game for the first time, to incorporate so much into a game and to do it well is a huge accomplishment and Ember Lab has made it seem as though they have been doing it for years. The only issue I came across was a slight stuttering in one of the boss fights that lead to the game freezing but I was able to pick up again from where I left thanks to it autosaving just beforehand.
Besides that, I really can’t recommend Kena: Bridge of Spirits highly enough that will see players partake in a meaningful journey absorbed in a vibrant world filled with fluid animations that cries out to be explored. With the game’s added photo mode, expect to add on a few more gameplay hours as you fill up your gallery with lots of cute Rot pictures, too.”
You may view the full review from DualShockers here.
Meanwhile, GameSpot gave the game a 90, highlighting the game’s gameplay, combat, and puzzles, but has some choice critiques about Kena’s story arc:
“The act of meeting and understanding all those other characters is powerful, though. Kena: Bridge of Spirits is ultimately a game about making those connections, just like it’s about making a connection with the game world around you through the Rot. It centers on characters who tried valiantly but failed to help one another, and what dealing with that pain did to them. It’s about exploring a world and seeing what it once was, and helping to restore it again. And while Kena: Bridge of Spirits is full of familiar-feeling combat and exploration, its ability to find different ways to look at those ideas makes for a beautiful, emotional, and exciting journey.”
The full GameSpot review is accessible here.
GameInformer gave Kena Bridge of Spirits a similar score of 90, saying:
“Ember Lab was upfront about Kena’s length going into release, saying it could be completed in a weekend. Given how much I adore this experience, I wish it would last longer, but the shorter footprint works well, especially for seeing all the world has to offer. The final act is the only aspect that feels rushed. The story wraps up nicely (in ways I didn’t expect), but a few of the big reveals and conflicts come and go in a flash and aren’t given the same level of care as other moments in the game.
Bridge of Spirits stumbles a little in spots, yet confidently sprints into the heart of the adventure, rewarding the player with secrets galore and visuals that are almost always worth admiring. If you love Zelda-like games or are just looking for an experience that will make you smile every step of the way, you can’t go wrong with Kena: Bridge of Spirits.”
The full GameInformer review can be viewed through this link.
Meanwhile, IGN gave the game a slightly lower score of 80, noting the game’s similarities with other great adventure games:
“Kena: Bridge of Spirits is a wonderful first game from Ember Lab, combining its outstanding pedigree in art and animation with some really solid combat, fantastic world design, and a great balance of action, platforming, puzzle solving, and exploration. The result is an open-world action-adventure that harkens back to the days of the N64/Gamecube-era Zeldas, Okami, and Star Fox Adventures, while also adding some modern sensibilities and a distinct personal touch. It is elegant in its simplicity, though sometimes that simplicity left me wanting more options to vary up my combat approaches, and I never got to know Kena herself as well as I wanted to. Even so, outstanding enemy variety and intense, memorable boss battles more than carry it through its nine-hour adventure.”
The full IGN Kena Bridge of Spirits review is accessible here.
So far, the most critical review of the game comes from Push Square, who gave it a respectable 70, whose main gripes with the game are from the story, occasional movement issues, and backtracking:
“Again, the game’s presentation is generally very good, but we did spot one or two hiccups. Occasionally, Kena’s movement can feel somewhat stilted, and some of the character designs are a bit lacking. Having said that, the level of polish is impressive for a team’s debut effort, and we haven’t encountered any serious bugs at all. Meanwhile, load times are swift, and the DualSense’s features add some nice tactile feedback to the action, which is always appreciated. Playing in the default performance mode, it runs smoothly at 60 frames-per-second, although we did notice some hitches when the game autosaves.
Despite borrowing from all manner of modern hits, Kena: Bridge of Spirits just about stands on its own. The wonderful visuals and music leave a strong impression, while the gameplay is simple but enjoyable. If its story went beyond the expected, and one or two small issues were scrubbed away, this would be a real winner. As it is, this is a solid action platformer with lots of personality, and a strong debut from Ember Lab.”
You may read Push Square’s full Kena Bridge of Spirits review here.
Kena Bridge of Spirits Review Conclusion
It looks like Kena Bridge of Spirits is an adventure game that’s a love letter to the genre’s other greats – titles like The Legend of Zelda, and perhaps even Okami. It’s oozing with great visuals and a lot of personality, though perhaps stumbles a little when it comes to execution – something that a fledgling gaming studio, like Ember Lab, might iron out in future games. The genre doesn’t really have too many entries available on PlayStation. Kena Bridge of Spirits, unlike most of its first-party PlayStation exclusive contemporaries, is an adventure that’s less about lofty heights, doesn’t have graphics that focus on hyper-realism, or a hugely open world with millions of sidequests every which way. Kena seems like a smaller, more intimate experience, filled with a magic of its own and a little bit of nostalgia for games gone by.