Kena: Bridge of Spirits (2021) Review

Kena: Bridge of Spirits is an action-adventure game from Ember Lab Studios, it was released in 2021 for the PS4, PS5 and PC

In the game you play as a young spirit guide Kena, she has the important job of helping deceased persons cross from the natural world and into the spirit realm, some of these spirits have become corrupt and have infested the land with demons and toxic elements, throughout her adventure Kena will have to work closely with the creatures called Rot to help free these tormented souls and save both worlds.

The gameplay while simple in its design is very fun, its a 3D platformer at heart with a good mixture of action oriented combat with adventurous terrains and worlds to explore, with the game having a high focus on spirits there is an emphasis on supernatural elements and magic which helps to spice up the gameplay.

Regular combat isn’t anything too special only offering basic light and heavy attacks with the staff but its the Rot, Bombs and Arrows which really bring additional challenge and for me made the combat some of the best parts of my personal journey with Kena.

The Bow of course gave us distanced combat and was useful for hitting further away enemies and those who fly, it could also be used to whip across gaps using special flowers.

The Bombs were particularly cool because not only did they give us a powerful damage attack but they have the ability to interact with certain stones creating timed platforming segments to help progress through areas and find hidden secrets.

The Rot were the best part of the game because not only are they extremely adorable and can be decorated with the sweetest little hats but they also have the ability to help you solve puzzles by carrying items, removing corruption and growing plants, they can also enhance your staff, bow and bomb abilities later on in the game giving them even more uses.

These creatures are only one of the many hidden collectibles in the game, they can be found in many different places but specifically prefer to hide underneath rocks and logs and tucked away inside of small spaces like drawers and plant pots.

Unfortunately with all of the collectibles in the game apart from trophies there isn’t much benefit to finding them with the exception of Rot and the meditations spots (permanently increases Kenas health), The hats while cute don’t offer any upgrades to abilities and the flower shrines only give you more money which can be used to purchase the hats, Spirit Mail sometimes does lead to more rot and do normally come with some cursed chests offering some combat challenges.

The Visuals are just out of this world and easily some of the best we have seen on PS5 so far, the landscape takes high inspiration from the Japanese countryside which fits the narrative of the game really well, on top of this crisp details on everything really enhances the experience, I love the bright colours of the human world making this game stand out even though it shares similar visual designs with other games of the genre, the spirit world uses more darker colours with less detail and again it helps to differentiate the worlds of the game making sure players know where they are at all times.

The soundtrack was composed by Jason Gallaty and is just beautiful, the team travelled to Bali to record traditional Gamelan music for the soundtrack, Gamelan uses bamboo flutes, Xylophones and a Rebab (Bowed instrument) the music is very calming but is adaptable to suit the games more action oriented sections. It is rare that I do not have spotify, an audio book or Youtube on in the background while gaming but this was an exception with a soundtrack so mesmerizing I wanted to let every second of it massage my brain with its artistic melodies.

I loved Kena, its visuals and outstanding soundtrack really helped to enhance my experience, the land was fantastic to explore and I loved all of the different combat sections and boss fights. My only issues with the game is that some of the collectibles dont offer enough to feel worth going out of your way for and finally the lack of a waypoint marker for the map made getting around a little difficult, I had to keep checking the map to see where I was and what direction I was facing, there is an update coming soon so maybe this will be added but overall if you have a Playstation or a good PC I highly recommend this one and will award it a well deserved 9.8/10

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Cyberpunk 2077 (2020)Review

Cyberpunk 2077 is an open world, action, role playing game set in a futuristic City. In the game players create and personalise a mercenary named V who is on a desperate mission to become the King/Queen of Night City while also trying to remove the personality of long Dead Rockstar Johnny Silverhand from her brain.

The game was developed by CD Projekt Red and Published by CD Projekt, it was released in 2020 for the PS4, Xbox One and PC, the original release was a notoriously broken mess and barely playable, the game was so bad that Sony removed it from their store for 6 months until the game was patched with better development and bug repairs.

In 2022 a free upgrade for PS5 and Xbox Series X/S was available for download, this is the version I played which also is the fixed version of the game, I will however keep in mind the original release for my criticisms and final score.

The gameplay is very similar to what you might expect from the Grand Theft Auto series, you play a fairly ruthless character who will break the law relentlessly to get what they want, stealing cars, hiring prostitutes and all out murder, it does add the ability purchase multiple homes and vehicles, it even uses skill trees and body modifications to help increase character attributes and abilities. The skill trees will help you gain more strength, stamina or hacking abilities while the Ripper Docs offer the modifications allowing you upgrades such as a double jump, better scanning, Gorilla strength, armoured skin and so much more.

But one thing this game does amazingly well is that it manages to be LGBTQ+ supportive in its gameplay and character developments.

Throughout the game you get the chance to have a lot of sex including LGBTQ+ you can even start romantic relationships including those of the same sex (My female character was dating another female in the game). During the character development you can be woman with male private parts or vice versa which I believe is in support of the trans community, If that statement is incorrect please educate me as I don’t mean to offend anyone.

I just think its amazing to see a triple A title like Cyberpunk take time to recognise the LGBTQ+ community in a way that isn’t overblown and is accepted as part of the society of Night City, Cyberpunk may have had its problems initially but the way it handles these areas is a testament to how far video games have come over the years.

In 2022 the game plays almost flawlessly, it has good controls and it has a good mix of side missions and other content to keep you coming back, the side missions are really diverse too you could be stealing an artefact in one mission, then aiming to be the city’s boxing champion before trying to come first in a street race

I did experience some problems though, my main gripe was when ever I finished a Johnny Silverhand Segment a blue rectangle would be stuck on my screen until I rebooted the game, another common issue was general crashes while loading missions, again making me reboot the game and hoping for the best when trying again. The game runs well enough but these rare bugs really did get annoying at times, I understand that they did patch the game to fix most of the problems but in reality the game never should have been rushed to release like it was, you shouldn’t sell people a broken product, its practically a scam and the developers and publishers ought to be ashamed of themselves, its all well and good fixing the problems but they never should have been there in the first place.

The game has seven possible endings which I wont go into detail on because of spoilers but each one can be reached depending on player choices throughout the campaign.

The soundtrack is pretty fun, it uses a lot of rock music to fit the atmosphere especially around Johnny Silverhand and his band Samurai, Samurai is actually really good and I’m surprised this isn’t a real band, throughout my college years I listened to a lot of rock music and screamo and this reminded me of those tracks, it was quite nice to get nostalgia like that.

Two years ago I would have told you to stay far away from this game and save your money on a practically unplayable scam and to simply make a point to the developers that gamers wont support this type of disrespect even if they did get Keanu Reeves to play Johnny Silverhand.

However as of now the game has been financially successful and its a long time since that first release, the fixed version of Cyberpunk is one of the most creative and wonderfully directed games I have played in a long time, you tell your own story here and apart from the Johnny Silverhand stuff there isn’t much that keeps you on a single path. The game is open to all types of gamers and celebrates a wide range of communities, it also has a great number of bad ass females in the game to help narrow down that issue with the video game industry as well. Cyberpunk is worth your time and is fairly reasonably priced to pick up cheap, it is also free on Playstation Plus if you want to check it out. I had a blast with the game but I cant give it too much praise, its still broken in some areas and while not to the degree it was previously its still bad enough to effect the flow and take you out of that atmosphere. I think the game is well deserving of a 8 today but this is not the original game that got released so I think a 7/10 is a fair score which a still represents the games past versions but can also celebrate those more playable versions as well.

And to CD Projekt Red I want to ask if you make another Cyberpunk please try and learn from your mistakes, next time I don’t want to be discussing broken releases.

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Kirby and the Forgotten Land (2022) Review

Kirby and the Forgotten Land is the first fully 3D platformer in the Kirby series, it was developed by Hal Laboratories and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo Switch videogame system in March 2022.

During his morning stroll across the Planet Popstar, Kirby and the the waddle dee’s are sucked into a mysterious dark vortex. Kirby awakens on a quiet beach and soon find himself in a land left to rot and succumb to neglect, the waddle dee’s have been stolen and its up to Kirby to fight his way across the various forgotten landscapes with the help of his new friend Elfillin and his brand new mouthful mode abilities in order to save his friends and defeat the cause of the vortex.

The gameplay while it is technically a 3D platformer it is quite linear apart from the occasional secret path which hides secrets. The game is split into 6 main worlds each with a different elemental theme and while fairly simple the levels do hide various collectables and each have missions to complete, this was a nice addition as it added additional challenge to the normal difficulty mode and added some replay value. The way the game feels is very similar to Super Mario 3D World with how it uses its camera angles and hides certain routes behind the need for various copy abilities.

Copy abilities are nothing new to the Kirby franchise becoming a staple after 1993’s Kirby’s Adventure for the NES, for those who don’t know Kirby can suck up enemies and consume their powers, gaining abilities such as bombs, drills, boomerang, sword, fire, ice and much more. In this game you can also pay coins and rare stones to upgrade these abilities once you discover blueprints hidden in certain stages.

Also new to the game is Mouthful Mode, Kirby is now able partially consume very large things which he can wrap his body around to control, here I have shown the cone that can body slam metal crates and break broken ground and the the car which can be used to travel fast and jump large gaps. I wont go over anymore of these as they really are one of the best things to discover in the game and with it still being fairly new at the time of writing this I don’t want to spoil the experience.

The boss fights are one of the biggest highlights of the game, they are all very memorable with the adorable but slightly threatening designs which capture the themes of the series perfectly, each fight is very unique and needs to be taken on with different approaches, also each boss has a weakness to specific copy abilities and it is up to the players to figure out which ones are best to use.

In between the main stages various challenge levels open up each is very short and is a great way to master the copy abilities and mouthful transformations. Each of the levels also has a time limit to beat for extra coins and these times can get very challenging, I did all of them but they don’t add towards your 100 percent completion so are not necessary and only really go as far as bragging rights.

After the main game there is still plenty of replay value in the package, you can continue to finish the level missions to get the waddle dee’s, you can also try and master the battle arenas which are boss rushes and once finished offer big cash prizes, you can also try to fill out your complete Gatcha collection, these can be purchased from machines in the main plaza but also can be earned by completing specific tasks, you can attempt to catch the biggest fish in the pond fishing game and finally there are five post game levels and a secret true final boss to beat so make sure you do those too. 100 percent completion of the game took me just under two weeks and I still want to go back to the game to do it all over again in the future.

The game is absolutely stunning, not only is this one of the best Nintendo Switch games in years it is also one of the best visually, the amount of detail that went into the games visuals is awe inspiring, this world looks like something out of an animated film and does hold some realism in its layout and overall designs, the game has no issues with lag and runs smoothly which is great considering every last detail was considered for the game including smaller things such as fish swimming beneath you in the water, fire flickering in the wind and releasing embers and even dust particles from disrupted mounds of dirt. We expect these details from more modern hardware’s such as the offerings from PlayStation and Xbox but for the Switch this really does go to show how a smaller graphics card can have a lot to offer as well.

The soundtrack is good but I would be somewhat lying if I said it held up when compared to past titles, the more modern spin we have here is fine and some of the more rock and roll versions of songs such as King Dedede’s theme is actually pretty sick, but I think most would agree that Kirby’s music just works much better in it’s original chip tune versions. When playing the game you wouldn’t really focus on the music as it does work but personally I just much prefer what we got before.

I don’t know what else there is to say,I was slightly worried about Kirby’s transition to 3D especially since the game was only announced six months or so before release and we didn’t know much about it, some additional video footage and a demo came out that I actively avoided so that I could go into this completely blind and I think I made the right choice because not only is this now officially the best Kirby game I have ever played but it is also one of the best games I have played in a long time and I really hope this is a sign that Nintendo are going to let the Switch go out with a bang before its next console is inevitably revealed but that is a discussion for another day.

Go and buy Kirby and Forgotten land it is a new start for the franchise and is easily up there with some of the best Nintendo Switch games 10/10

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