Action-adventure game Kena: Bridge of Spirits mixes a bunch of inspirations, from the combat of The Legend of Zelda to the storytelling sensibilities of Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon. We recently got a chance to play about an hour of Ember Lab's new title, and came away struck by how well it balances its ideas, and just how cute its little black mascots, the Rot, really are.
Protagonist Kena is a spirit guide, and hergoal throughout the game is to discover what happened to a village where a calamity has taken place. Corruption infects the land around the village and the spirits of some of its inhabitants are trapped, unable to move on, and becoming corrupted, too. In our playthrough, we went in search of a spirit named Taro, searching for relics to uncover his memories, learn what happened to him, and finally, summon him to help him cross over.
The Rot, the little black creatures who follow you around, are a big part of the gameplay experience. You find them in the world, and the more you have, the more powerful they become. You can use them to solve puzzles, move objects to clear paths, and repair shrines and statues to help restore the village and its surroundings. But the Rot also help you fight, attacking and distracting enemies and powering up your attacks. The Rot are your constant companions, and represent how Ember Lab is looking to tell Kena's story through gameplay and the connections you make with characters, both friendly and not-so-friendly, along the way.
Kena: Bridge of Spirits is headed to PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and PC this August.