Ember Lab’s Kena: Bridge of Spirits has looked like an exciting prospect since the moment it was first unveiled, and now that it’s out, people are going to be diving in to see if it’s worth the wait (it is). If you’re about to jump as in as well, here, we’ve put together a few handy pointers that should help you out in your journey in Kena: Bridge of Spirits.
Kena isn’t a huge game, but while you shouldn’t go in expecting a massive open world, there’s still plenty of room for exploration. True to Ember Lab’s word, the game’s wide-linear design ensures that there will usually be optional paths and areas to discover, and more often than not, what you find is often useful. You’ll find environmental puzzles, hidden collectibles, currency to spend on cosmetic items, new hats to put on your Rot companions, and more, so it’s always a good idea to take your time exploring your surroundings thoroughly before moving forward.
The Rot are a crucial pillar of Kena: Bridge of Spirits in more ways than one, so of course, adding more of these to your growing army is an important part of the gameplay loop. While some are regularly given to you as you progress through the story, quite a few of them are hidden in the environments, waiting to be found (which is yet another reason you should explore). One nifty trick to keep an eye out for is the vibration in your controller- if you’re near a hidden Rot, you’ll feel slight pulses in the controller, which means it’s time to comb your surroundings.
One of many collectibles that you’ll find as you explore Kena’s world is Spirit Mail, which can be returned to houses back in the village (which is the game’s central hub). This is completely optional, but we’d recommend doing whenever you can. Returning the Spirit Mail opens up houses which were previously inaccessible, and the stuff you find inside is almost always worth the trouble. In fact, thanks to Kena’s quick and convenient fast travel system, returning back to the village to deliver Spirit Mail is a pretty smooth process.
Kena: Bridge of Spirits combat can be more challenging than you’d expect at times, contrary to what its simplistic beginnings would have you believe, and while aggressive play is always encouraged, sometimes, defense is necessary. You can dodge attacks or block them with a temporary shield, and while timing the shield can stun enemies and even allow for a follow-up parry (if you have that upgrade unlocked), it’s more often than not too much of a risk. Unless you’ve absolutely nailed down the timing of the parry, dodging is always the better option.
Though your health automatically regenerated outside of combat, when you’re in combat, it is done by commanding your Rot to use up healing flowers in the environment. The catch is that in any given combat encounter, you rarely ever get more than one or two flowers, which means you have to be smart about when or even if to use them. Rather than hastily healing yourself when you could have taken a couple more hits, it’s best to take as much damage as you can without dying, and then using up a flower to fully heal up.
Regardless of what you’re using the Rot in combat for, whether that’s healing or attacking enemies, it requires Courage, which is built up by attacking enemies yourself. Though you can increase the number of Courage actions available by expanding your Rot army, that number is almost always very limited nonetheless. And while it’s smart to save your heals, when it comes to attacking enemies with your Rot, holding on to your Rot actions isn’t recommended. If you intend to attack, use your Rot action as quickly as you get it, so that you can quickly build it back up again.
Enemies in Kena: Bridge of Spirits can hit surprisingly hard at times, and given how busy and tense some combat encounters can get, attacks can be quite hard to avoid at times. That said, several enemy attacks do have pretty significant wind-ups, which, thankfully, can be interrupted. So if you see an enemy beginning an animation for an attack, if you attack it first, you’ll prevent it from finishing its move. As a rule, Kena encourages you to be aggressive in combat.
In the early hours of Kena: Bridge of Spirits, you’ll acquire an upgrade that will allow you to use your staff as an energy bow, which, as you might imagine, can be quite handy in combat. In fact, one of the most useful upgrades you can unlock in the otherwise disappointingly limited skill tree is the Multishot. If you shoot at an enemy that’s been downed by a Rot attack, the arrow will split and scatter upon impact, hitting other enemies in the vicinity as well. It’s a very effective crowd control move, and particularly useful in the busier fights, so make sure that you unlock this as soon as you can.
Combat arenas in Kena: Bridge of Spirits generally feature a very corrupted landscape, the source of which is always a large, red, bulbous flower called a “heart”. Clearing these hearts with the Rot is how you clear the corruption, and this is something that you’ll need to keep in mind during combat as well. As fights progress, these flowers will open up and become vulnerable to a Rot attack. As soon as they do, destroy them, because if you don’t, enemies will just keep respawning endlessly.
One of the first things you do in Kena: Bridge of Spirits is use your Pulse ability, which sends out a, well, a pulse of light and energy that interacts with objects in the environment. It’s triggered with a simple press of L1, and you definitely should keep using it regularly. Of course, you shouldn’t spam it (unless you want to, for some reason), but not only is Pulse crucial for some puzzles, it can also be used to highlight secrets in the environment or to collect hidden collectibles.