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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Princess Mononoke (1997) Review

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Princess Mononoke is a Fantasy film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki.

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After an Emishi village is targeted by an evil spirit for attack, the evil spirit is killed by Ashitaka the last surviving Emishi Prince, He is unfortunately cursed after touching the demon, this grants him unbelievable strength but at the cost of it eventually taking his life. He is advised to head to the land of Nago to seek out a cure.

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Ashitaka is advised by a Buddhist to find the forest spirit, the forest spirit is a fantastical entity that is a deer by day but can transform into a night-walker at night time.

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Ashitaka finds Iron town which is ran by Lady Eboshi, Lady Eboshi leads the workers of iron town in a war between them and the gods of the forest, making her a sworn enemy of Princess Mononoke aka San

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San is the protector of the forest, she loves the forest and has the mannerisms and personality of wolves due to being raised by them since a young age.

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What I find most interesting about this film is not the fantastical world of the forest or the creatures that reside there but it is simply the fact that for a film that is so violent and has strong morals there is no villains. In fact I would argue that everyone in this movie is a villain in some way. The two residing enemies in the war each have good reasons for what they are doing, and while Ashitaka did get cursed he had to kill a spirit to get that curse in the first place, no one in this film is completely innocent not even Mononoke, she and her wolves have a body count and those that they kill do not always deserve death so really you will have to watch the film yourself to decide which side you are supporting.

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I love the visual style used in this film, the spirits are particularly epic and wonderful to look at and study, you can tell that the artists had a lot of fun creating some of these characters, the colours used in the film are fantastic and the palette choice really helped to emphasise the nature and surrounding areas represented in the movie.

The voice cast was very good all around, some recognised names would be Tara Strong, Billy Bob Thornton, Minnie Driver and Jada Plinkett Smith.

I really am a big fan of this movie but I must disagree with it being one of Miyazaki’s best work, if I’m being honest while it really is spectacular I feel it isn’t very well paced everything happens so quickly in the movie and it is a lot to take in but this is really is a fantastic film that may just find a special place in your heart.

I hope you enjoyed this review of Princess Mononoke

If you would like to help support the website please use the donation button at the top of the page, your donations will help to improve the website by allowing me to afford products to review and to be able to execute any costly updates and changes, any amount in donations are welcome.

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