I started playing Kena: Bridge of Spirits thinking it was another generic action adventure, but soon I was followed by a horde of tiny creatures….
Kena: Bridge of Spirits starts with a true in medias res opening. In other words, the game throw you into the story’s deep end. It opens with a short on-screen message explaining people make masks for the dead, and that spirit guides help guide spirits that become trapped. And that’s it. Go time.
As you get more into the world of the game, you discover Kena is in a valley with a village below a sacred mountain shrine. She seeks to visit the shrine, but to reach it, Kena needs to help the haunted village move on to the next life. To do that, you have to dig into the life and death of some of the more powerful spirits plaguing the land.
It’s not a complicated plot, but it is well executed. The story focused on smaller mysteries and character arcs for the spirits. You learn something about these spirits, and what led them to fall and die with issues unresolved. It also slowly reveals parts of the grander mystery of what befell the village and what drives Kena.
Bridge of Spirits is an action-adventure game, meaning it has some puzzle elements, some combat, and some collection quests. The fun twist is that during your voyage you pick up ‘rot’. The rot are tiny black spirits scattered across the land. As you find them, they join you in your quest. And by join, I mean, they all follow you around and help with solving puzzles and in combat.
In fact, by the end of the game you can have a hundred of the little critters. They walk behind you, pop up ahead of you, and swim after you in a clump. You soon have a swarm of tiny black blobs trailing you. And: you can buy hats for them! There are some fifty hats (I think) to be found around the game, and you can use the in-game currency to buy them.
The puzzles are not too hard, but the combat can be tricky — but contrary to soulslikes, you can quickly try again. Still, the late game boss battles were a bit too challenging for me — I no longer really enjoyed them.
I like Kena: Bridge of Spirits. It’s not the best game ever, but it is fun. It also isn’t too long, meaning it’s over before it becomes a grind.
So, if you action-adventure games with an Japanese thematic, with a lot of tiny black critters, then this is the game for you. If not, well, you should play something else.