Ember Lab, a studio best known for a Majora's Mask fan film called Terrible Fate, stole the show at the June 2020 PlayStation 5 reveal event with Kena: Bridge of Spirits. It once again once again the highlight of the next show it appeared in, February 2021's State of Play.
Thanks to its beautiful visuals that look on par with a Pixar or Dreamworks film, it has quickly become one of the system's most anticipated games. A September 2020 Game Informer cover story and other announcements have revealed lots about this PS5 title.
Now that we have a firm release date for the game game, we've rounded up everything you'd want to know about Kena: Bridge of Spirits. That includes its release window, platforms, gameplay, and more!
When is the Kena: Bridge of Spirits release date?
During the February 24 State of Play, we finally got a release date for Kena: Bridge of Spirts. It will be released on August 24, 2021. This release date is revealed after a couple of delays.
Originally, Kena: Bridge of Spirits was expected to release during fall 2020 sometime around the PS5's launch. However, Ember Lab announced via Twitter on September 11, 2020 that Kena: Bridge of Spirits was delayed to Q1 2021.
"This year has brought many challenges and our transition to working from home has caused development to move slower than we hoped," the tweet reads. "For this reason, we have made the difficult decision to delay the release of Kena: Bridge of Spirits to Q1, 2021. We have not made this decision lightly, but feel it is best for the game and well-being of the team."
This delay is unfortunate, but the wait shouldn't be too much longer as the delay still suggests that Kena: Bridge of Spirits will be released before the end of March 2020. A listing on the PlayStation November suggested that the game would be delayed even further, but Ember Lab reaffirmed that Q1 2021 release window. Now, it appears the game won't arrive until August.
Is there a new Kena: Bridge of Spirits trailer?
During the February 25 State of Play, a brand new trailer for the game was released. It gave us a more in-depth look at gameplay, the game's story, and its beautiful animation. Check it out below:
There's also the announcement trailer from last June, when Kena: Bridge of Spirits was originally shown during the PS5 reveal event in June. You can watch that further above in the piece.
After we see some fuzzy little black creatures darting about a forest, we get a look at Kena, the protagonist, who sits meditating. A male voice narrates ominous threats and assessments of her weaknesses, noting her mission to "help troubled spirits."
"I know your kind," the voice says. "You sense the power that flows through this land, yet you do not fully understand it." We're also shown some cinematic battles where Kena appears to get wounded, along with plenty of gameplay as she explores a lush world and fights different spirits with a magical staff that doubles as a bow made of light.
What is Kena: Bridge of Spirits' story about?
"Kena, a young Spirit Guide, travels to an abandoned village in search of the sacred mountain shrine," the official plot synopsis on the Epic Games Store says. "She struggles to uncover the secrets of this forgotten community hidden in an overgrown forest where wandering spirits are trapped." Game Informer's cover story gives even more insight into this compelling narrative.
The demo referenced in the Game Informer story is set towards the start of the game, follows Kena as she fights evil spirits before coming across a village where she meets a pair of sibling spirits, Saiya and Beni. They are the young children that sport a fox mask on their backs like a backpack. Kena helps these siblings find and calm down the spirit of their brother Taro.
Helping spirits like this is apparently the focus in Kena: Bridge of Spirits, as Kena will encounter a family of spirits like this in every world that she visits. Saiya and Beni aren't the only characters that accompany Kena, as she also has the help of The Rot, those cute black creatures that won over people's hearts in the reveal trailer.
Kena can collect 100 different Rot wisps over the course of the game, though the first one she encounters takes the most prominent role as the leader of the group. Each creature can also be customized with cute little hats to make them stand out. The Rot helps Kena as she not only helps several spirits but restores balance to her world after it has been corrupted. She'll also take on Toshi, an evil spirit that's still causing problems for Kena's world.
All of this is brought to life by absolutely beautiful visuals. According to Game Informer, the game is being developed on Unreal Engine. Still, Ember Lab's talent for creating animated movie-level visuals is paying off. Several screenshots were released for the game in December, and they all look stunning and on par with some animated movies in theaters.
What is Kena: Bridge of Spirits' combat and gameplay like?
While comparisons to Nintendo's Pikmin series immediately come to mind, Game Informer's description of gameplay actually shows that Kena: Bridge of Spirits is quite a bit different and more akin to 3D Zelda games. Much of the combat in Kena: Bridge of Spirits is centered around the titular character, not the Rot. She can fight enemies with her staff, hitting them with it, casting magic shields, or even using it as a bow.
Many enemies have obvious weak points for Kena to target, and this is where the Rot can come into play with a system called Rot Courage. Initially, the Rot creatures will be scared and hide underground when an evil spirit attacks. If the player does well, the Rot will come out of hiding and Kena can command them the help fight enemies.
They won't be doing all of the fighting, so Kena's combat is still very important in the game. It's also impossible for the Rot to die, so you don't have to worry about mismanaging and killing these creatures like the player would in Pikmin. Outside of battle, players will complete a variety of platforming and puzzle challenges and can command the Rot to move or carry objects in order to progress.
We see a lot of this in action in the trailer released during State of Play.
Is Kena: Bridge of Spirits a PS5 exclusive?
While Kena: Bridge of Spirits was announced during the PS5's reveal event, it will appear on other platforms.
The game will also come to PC and PS4. In fact, Ember Lab confirmed to Game Informer that the game was initially developed for PS4 before it was upgraded to support PS5. The environments are reportedly more detailed in the PS5 version of the game, and all of the 100 Rot wisps that players can collect can be on screen at the same time. That simply isn't possible on PS4.
Kena: Bridge of Spirits also uses the haptic feedback and adaptive triggers on the DualSense controller to enhance the experience. The game's developers went into more detail about these features with Official PlayStation Magazine UK. "We use haptics on all of Kena’s abilities and shield, and at the moment we use the adaptive triggers when using the bow," they explained.
"You have a little bit of resistance on the right trigger that tightens as you full draw. When you do have the string fully drawn the bow has more power and more accuracy and you’ll feel that tension in the trigger as you pull back. There are some fun minigames too; these train you up to use the bow."
Those that buy the PS4 version of the game will be able to upgrade to the PS5 version for free too. The reveal trailer for Kena: Bridge of Spirits also mentions that it will be exclusive for a limited time, which means that the game could possibly come to Xbox One or Xbox Series S|X in the future.
Is Kena: Bridge of Spirits a $60 game?
Despite how interesting Kena: Bridge of Spirits sounds, it won't actually be a full-priced or lengthy game. No official price has been confirmed yet, but the developers confirmed that it won't be $60 because of its smaller scope and length.
"When we set out to make this game, we targeted ourselves a little bit: we wanted to have the feeling of an immersive, awesome world experience, but on a smaller scale,' Ember Lab's Chief Operating Officer Josh Grier told Game Informer in its cover story.
Kena: Bridge of Spirits will be released for PC, PS4, and PS5 in 2020.