Back at the June 2020 PS5 reveal event, we had the good fortune of getting the first look at Kena: Bridge of Spirits, a game best described as controlling a Pixar movie. Since the official release, the developers went underground while teasing us every once in a while a Twitter post or a blog update.
Recently, Ember Lab dropped a new trailer outlining the story, new gameplay elements and, best of all, a release date! Here's the latest info you need to know about Kena: Bridge of Spirits.
About Kena: Bridge of Spirits
Kena: Bridge of Spirits is the debut game of indie studio Ember Lab. Instead of treading down the ultra-realistic graphics route, the devs decided to take the road less travelled by and opt for more cartoony graphics, reminiscent of Pixar's movies.
The game revolves around Kena, who is best described in dev's own words:
Kena, a young Spirit Guide, travels to an abandoned village in search of the sacred mountain shrine. She struggles to uncover the secrets of this forgotten community hidden in an overgrown forest where wandering spirits are trapped.
The story follows a classic 'good versus evil' perspective, where an evil spirit has taken over the land and rendered it in darkness. You must restore the land back to peace and light with the help of Rot (plural), a type of spirit that lingers throughout the forest. Kena can call upon the Rot to help her restore the world and, at a later stage, assist in combat.
While the developers haven't confirmed if Kena: Bridge of Spirits will be an open-world title or not, there's a heavy emphasis on a "charming world rich with exploration". The setting appears to be inspired by an amalgamation of South-East and East Asian and traditions and shrines.
The combat is fast-paced and appears to be unforgiving. Kena can perform melee attacks with her staff, as well as fire magical arrows by converting her staff into a bow. We are certain that there are a few magical abilities hiding behind a skill tree as well. Although we haven't got our hands on the game yet, the combat appears to draw inspiration from Zelda BOTW and a wee bit of the Souls series, with the difficulty, turned down 10x.
A noteworthy point about Kena: Bridge of Spirits is its audio track. The game features a soulful traditional Balinese soundtrack, composed by Jason Gallaty and the ensemble group Gamelan Çudamani.
About Ember Lab, the team Behind Kena: Bridge of Spirits
Set-up by brother Josh and Mike Grier, Ember Lab wasn't even on the map of the game development scene before Kena: Bridge of Spirits. Instead, they specialised in making CG films for commercials and other video game studios. They have previously partnered with the likes of Hisense and Coca Cola to produce commercials. They've also produced viral fan films such as Majora’s Mask Fan Film – Terrible Fate.
A particular common element in Ember Lab's work is their Pixal-like animation style. They've nailed down the 'cute' art style in pre-rendered videos, only time will tell how well that translates to the gameplay.
The studio's fate as a game developer is resting on their debut title, Kena: Bridge of Spirits. I, for one, really want a game like Kena to be a major hit. The sound, story and cinematics seem just perfect!
Kena: Bridge of Spirits Release Date
Kena: Bridge of Spirits' original release date was December 2020, which was then delayed to March 2021 and now on to August 24, 2021. However, we are certain that it won't be delayed any further since it's the first time that a firm release date has been announced.
Pre-orders for the game are already open on Epic Games Store and Playstation Store. Originally, Kena: Bridge of Spirits was meant to be a limited-time Playstation exclusive, coming to PS4 and PS5, but now the game will release simultaneously on PC and PS4/PS5.
The game was originally built for the PS4 but later adapted for PS5. Hopefully, Ember Lab put the PS5's adaptive triggers and other new features to good use.
A bane of the next-gen consoles is the pricey games. Some developers out there are charging $70 for the standard edition of their next gen-games, but Kena: Bridge of Spirits takes a different route.
Kena: Bridge of Spirits costs just $40 on Playstation Store. Although note that this is the price of the PS4 edition, and the PS5 edition hasn't been listed in the store yet - there's a good chance it will be less than $60 though. If you're on PC, you may be able to get Kena: Bridge of Spirits for less than $15 depending on the region.
On one hand, the marginal pricing makes sense since Kena: Bridge of Spirits is technically an 'indie' game. However, looking at the scale and trailer of the game, Kena: Bridge of Spirits is more than your average 'indie' game. Hopefully, the marginal pricing is just a marketing tactic and does not reflect the state of the game.