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Video Game / Kena: Bridge of Spirits

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"I know your kind. You sense the power that flows through this land. Yet, you do not fully understand it. Driven by the belief that you can help these troubled spirits. But you cannot hide your weakness from me. You have no power here... Kena."

Kena: Bridge of Spirits is an Action-Adventure exploration game developed by Ember Labnote  for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and Windows released on September 21, 2021.

The story centers around Kena, a young Spirit Guide, who travels to an abandoned village in search of a sacred shrine. There, she must uncover the secrets of the forgotten community, now filled with trapped wandering spirits, while also collecting timid little spirits called the Rot to help her in her journey.

The product page on the Epic Games Store can be viewed here. The trailers can be seen here and here.


Kena: Bridge of Spirits provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Kena, a Spirit Guide who travels to an abandoned village filled with hostile spirits and can hold her own in a fight.
  • An Aesop: Change is a necessary part of life, and holding on to what is lost can be self-destructive.
  • Badass Adorable: Kena is a young, cute girl who is nonetheless shown taking on corrupted spirits many times her size.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Some of the lines that Kena might say to her Rot companions are in unsubtitled Indonesian.
  • Blue Is Heroic: Kena's outfit is primarily blue and she's the main protagonist of the game.
  • But Now I Must Go: At the end of the game, the Rot bid Kena a fond farewell before reuniting to form the Rot God.
  • The Corruption: Ironically enough, not the Rot, whom are instead beneficial allies to Kena, but the Deadzones, areas where there is no life— nor even a soundtrack once Kena enters one— and have pulsing Red growths around them that Kena needs to restore to restore the area to its natural state of lush greenery. This actually makes sense, as rot and decay is a natural part of the cycle of life, and ignoring that cycle is where true imbalance is created, hence why Deadzones are utterly devoid of both life and motion, as everything is in a twisted state of stasis.
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  • Dead All Along: Aside from Kena, the Rot God, and the Rot, every character in the game is a spirit.
  • Deathbringer the Adorable: "The Rot" are not only your allies, but also cute.
  • Degraded Boss: Most (mini)boss encounters in the game serve to introduce large, tough enemy types that you'll meet again repeatedly throughout the game.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: The Final Boss of the game is the Corrupt Rot God, but Kena manages to defeat and restore him to his original form.
  • Double Jump: Kena can launch herself mid-jump by channeling her magic. In a subversion of typical double jump mechanics, the second jump doesn't give her a lot of forward motion and is more vertical (which kind of makes sense, since she isn't kicking off anything to vault her more forward in mid-air).
  • Energy Bow: Early in the game, Kena learns to use her staff as one of these by channelling the energy of the mountain. The bow can hold four shots (six with upgrades) that recharge over time.
  • Genre Throwback: As noted by multiple game reviewers, the game is a throwback to 6th-gen era platformers and action-adventures. From its obvious Pixar-esque visuals and character designs to the prevalence of gameplay over story and going through the Plot Coupon collecting and light displays of personality and character development for most characters, it hearkens back to past 3D The Legend of Zelda and Jak and Daxter games. At the same time, it does deliver lavish visuals and some current-gen mechanics in its combat.
  • Ghost Town: The Village turns out to be a literal example of the trope, as every single human inhabitant Kena meets is a spirit.
  • Harder Than Hard: Beating the game on any difficulty unlocks Master Spirit Guide. In this difficulty, enemies become significantly more aggressive and many can One-Hit Kill Kena if their attacks connect. Rot also lose courage whenever Kena gets hit by an enemy, meaning the player will have to master parrying and guarding to maintain the momentum and finish the fight.
  • Jiggle Physics: Kena's topknot bounces around with every movement she makes and will also tilt to one side should she turn her head.
  • Magic Staff: Kena's weapon is a magical staff topped with a blue crystal. Aside from casting magic Kena can also use it as an Energy Bow.
  • Magitek: Adira the Woodsmith made a variety of devices with her mastery of the energy of the sacred Mountain Shrine, including a golem-like "Ox" that is made from stone and power crystals.
  • Malevolent Masked Man: Toshi is this, donning a mask with burning red eyes in the very first cutscene of the game.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: At the end, Toshi regrets his actions, namely having caused the corruption of the Rot God and consequently plaguing the land with the Deadzones.
  • New Game Plus: The anniversary update, released in September 2022, introduced this option, allowing you to retain your abilities, Rot upgrades and collectibles such as outfits and Charmstones from a previous playthrough. Notably, you do not retain your health upgrades, forcing you to start at base health and collect meditation points all over again to upgrade your health as you progress. The mode also increases the number of enemies in combat encounters, introduces new combat encounters (including late-game enemy types ambushing you in early-game areas), and gives each main story boss an additional phase where they regain some health and throw new moves at you.
  • Nintendo Hard: For all of its whimsical setting and western animation-style characters, this game is a deceptively brutal game in terms of difficulty. As many reviewers and players have come to discover, combat requires quick timing and awareness at all times. Bosses and minibosses have numerous deadly moves that can easily kill Kena in a couple of hits, and dying to a boss (up to, and including, a five-stage final boss) requires starting from the very beginning. Moreover, since the game does not feature health potions or other healing items apart from specific locations within an arena, the player only has a limited number of heals. And even outside of combat, the game does not hold the player's hand in terms of finding collectibles or Rot located throughout the map, making 100% Completion difficult to obtain.
  • No Cutscene Inventory Inertia: The game's first anniversary update adds collectible outfits for Kena... which don't show up in pre-rendered cutscenes, where she's still wearing her vanilla outfit.
  • Point of No Return: Toshi's boss fight is an example of this, as proceeding from that point will lock the player out of any collectibles, upgrades, or fast travel for the rest of the game. While Zajuro does warn the player to prepare ahead of time, starting the mission actually unlocks three additional mask missions and allows continued access to the game's world. What makes this a Nasty example rather than a Polite one, however, is that the game's warning is implied for the initial encounter, not the next one that leads to the boss fight. Moreover, upon starting the boss fight against Toshi, the player is not warned that beating Toshi will strip Kena of her Rot powers and lock the player into the endgame.
  • Respawning Enemies: While enemy mobs don't return once defeated, many combat encounters are structured around 1-2 tough enemies surrounded by groups of low-level enemies that continuously respawn until the larger enemies are defeated, forcing you to stay light on your feet and be constantly aware of your surrounding.
  • Rewatch Bonus: The very first Rot that Kena finds and who later acts as her Shoulder Pet has a mossy mane growing on its back and tiny wooden antlers. It's also the only Rot who doesn't hide but instead bravely snarls at the Big Bad threatening Kena. This Rot is a surviving piece of the Rot God, whose true form looks like a lion with a green mane and antlers and who has very personal reasons to be upset at the game's antagonist.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: The Rot - small, dark blue spirits with big black eyes that inhabit the forest and will follow Kena around as she discovers them. They can help you traverse the world as well as in battle. The best part is that you amass an army of these little guys and you can interact with them, getting them to do cute animations for you. They also hang around the environments and pop in on top of objects or cluster around Kena's feet. One Rot in particular (the first one you meet) likes to sit on Kena's shoulder and will aid you in discovering more Rot.
  • The Sacred Darkness: Kena is a Spirit Guide who sees out Rot spirits, friendly beings that are explicitly stated to be a force of good by maintaining the balance of the world by decomposing dead things. Also, they're adorable.
  • Scenery Porn: A gorgeously designed game all around, with several captivating shots of mountains, plains, forests and other terrains.
  • Shoulder Pet: A Rot with moss/grass growing from its back can ride around on Kena's shoulder. It's the first Rot she finds, being at a noticeably smaller size than its compatriots, and generally acts as a Notice This indicator for Kena.
  • Straight Gay: During the quest to free Aldira's spirit, Kena will learn that she was in a romantic relationship with Hana. While the two are lesbians, at no point does the game drum out any LGBT stereotypes nor is their relationship ever seen as a point of objection or controversy within the village.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Toshi, the village leader, attacked Zajuro and the Rot God in refusal to accept that the famine affecting the land was part of a natural cycle. All he wanted was to protect his people, which Kena and Zajuro understand.