Kena: Bridge of Spirits’ cute adventure sounds a lot like if Pikmin did exorcisms

(Image credit: Ember Lab)

It’s the Rots that grab most people’s attention on seeing Kena: Bridge of Spirits in action on PS5. These little soot sprite-like creatures are cute as all hell but according to Mike Grier of developer Ember Lab they’re also incredibly useful: "The Rot are key to every aspect of gameplay. They can be used in combat, to augment abilities. They can be used to manipulate the environment, to carry things for you, and the more Rot you have, the stronger you're going to be and the more abilities you get to unlock," he explains.

(Image credit: Ember Lab)

The game sees you playing as Kena. “She's a spirit guide that's travelled to this forgotten village and soon discovers that there are many trapped lingering spirits”, Mike explains. “It becomes clear that there are larger forces at play that have corrupted the environment and stopped things from moving on." And that’s where you and the Rot come in, because Kena decides to help the spirits but she can’t do it alone. 

“You ultimately have to get to know what happened to [the spirits] in their past life”, explains Mike’s brother and co-developer Josh Grier. “To do so you're looking for clues in the environment, facing combat challenges and solving puzzles. But ultimately, it relies on building and growing your team of Rot. You see them carrying statues around for you, and attacking enemies, but there really are a lot of uses for the Rot, and abilities you can upgrade. We're only giving you a taste here, there are a lot more tricks up the Rot's sleeve."

(Image credit: Ember Lab)

That doesn't mean Kena can’t take care of herself though. "With the gameplay we really wanted to show off a bit of Kena's mobility,” Josh points out, "so you see her running and double jumping, which adds a lot to the fast-paced combat.” Having a more capable lead character is necessary as, despite the cuteness, there are “darker elements of the game” we’ve yet to fully see. The moments shown where Kena battles spirits is only the start. “We wanted to use [the trailer] to set this darker tone,” says Mike, “as the player is going to be exposed to some darker themes in the storytelling." 

And if you’re wondering when you’ll get to explore those darker themes, as well as building your army of dark cuteness, Josh signs off by telling us, "we're targeting a holiday release, and it'll be coming to PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4 and the Epic Games Store."

If you want to see more on Kena: Bridge of Spirits and other upcoming PS5 games then we've got you covered. 

Sam Loveridge
Global Editor-in-Chief, GamesRadar+

Sam Loveridge is the Global Editor-in-Chief of GamesRadar, and joined the team in August 2017. Sam came to GamesRadar after working at TrustedReviews, Digital Spy, and Fandom, following the completion of an MA in Journalism. In her time, she's also had appearances on The Guardian, BBC, and more. Her experience has seen her cover console and PC games, along with gaming hardware, for a decade, and for GamesRadar, she's in charge of the site's overall direction, managing the team, and making sure it's the best it can be. Her gaming passions lie with weird simulation games, big open-world RPGs, and beautifully crafted indies. She plays across all platforms, and specializes in titles like Pokemon, Assassin's Creed, The Sims, and more. Basically, she loves all games that aren't sports or fighting titles! In her spare time, Sam likes to live like Stardew Valley by cooking and baking, growing vegetables, and enjoying life in the countryside.