Single post: Kena: Bridge of Spirits

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    Quote Originally Posted by Game Informer
    First up, there’s the matter of load times. Sony has touted the speed of the PS5’s solid-state drive, and how it virtually eliminates long loads. In practice, we watched as Kena was launched from the PlayStation 5 system menu. It took about two seconds. That’s not resuming a suspended game, but launching the game fresh.

    “They have a whole thing set up where you can do transition and it’s very nice, but frankly it doesn’t have time to play the animation. It just loads the game so fast,” says Josh Grier, chief operating officer at Ember Lab.

    The game wasn’t originally designed with the PS5’s hardware specs in mind, but the additional horsepower has allowed Ember Lab to do more within the boundaries it initially established.

    “It’s been really nice,” says chief creative officer Mike Grier. “We’ve been on development on PS4 for most of the project, and squeezing it and getting the performance that we wanted out of it was a nightmare. But having done all that, when we went to PS5 it was nice, because we had a good baseline and then we could just add to it and take advantage of the extra juice.”

    Some of the changes seem fairly substantial. We didn’t see a side-by-side comparison on the game running on PS5 and PS4, but Mike says the forest is more lush and dense in the PS5 version. He says that combat is one of the game’s foundational elements, and ensuring that it performed well on the older hardware took priority over the amount of foliage players would see in the environments.

    Another thing that will probably be apparent is the number of Rot that players will see in the world. There are 100 of the tiny creatures to discover in the world, and PlayStation 5 players can potentially see all of them scampering around onscreen simultaneously. On PlayStation 4, you can still find all of the Rot, but they won’t all be represented visually. Mike says that even with the game’s aggressive level-of-detail scaling on the creatures, the performance suffered too much on PS4 with the whole crew onscreen, so they had to make concessions. Their functionality is the same on both versions, but the visual differences are there.

    The PlayStation 5’s controller is another significant upgrade. “The triggers on the DualSense controller have resistance on them, so we’re utilizing that for the heavy attacks, but also for the bow,” Mike says. “You draw it, and the way it sounds and the resistance feels like a bow tightening up.”

    “The triggers are a part of it, but when you get the haptics in the hands, it really brings it all together,” Josh adds. “Obviously, you feel the tension in your trigger finger, but when you’ve got the bow drawn and you add the Rot into it, we can dynamically say, ‘OK, this right palm feels the Rot jumping into it.’ And then when we use the Rot cloud, as the cloud shifts from left to right on the screen, you can feel it transitioning from left to right in your hand, as well.”

    Designer Liz Fiacco says she was particularly excited about that haptic feedback, which provides a greater degree of feedback to players than the traditional rumble. She says that when she worked at Naughty Dog, the team there used a tool to create rumble on the fly using DualShock inputs. On PlayStation 5, haptic feedback is controlled using an audio wave, which gives creators much more freedom on how it’s implemented. “We’re a small team, and there’s only so much experimentation we can do with it, but we’ve gotten some cool stuff in already,” she says.

    Since the team is building the game for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5, there’s a fair bit of switching around between older and newer hardware. Unsurprisingly, there’s a pretty clear winner, at least according to Josh. “Once you go here, it’s kind of hard to go back,” he says, pointing to the PS5 controller in his hand. “I like the DualShock controller, don’t get me wrong, but I want to play with this guy.”
    What Does The PS5 Bring To Kena: Bridge Of Spirits? - Game Informer
    Quote Originally Posted by Game Informer
    Who is Kena?
    Kena is the hero of the game. More specifically, she’s a spirit guide – a person with a special gift who can help guide restless spirits to a peaceful end. In Kena: Bridge of Spirits’ lore, people who have suffered great trauma or who have unresolved business can linger between the physical and spirit world, causing trouble for ordinary (living) people. Kena’s job is to understand what’s keeping them from moving on and helping them reconcile past events.

    Does that mean if she dies in the game she will live on in limbo as a restless spirit because she wasn’t able to help other spirits while she was alive? Unfinished business, and all?
    Oh. That’s a good question. I have no idea how to answer that. Maybe ask something easier?

    How do you pronounce her name?
    It’s pronounced KAY-nuh. Whew!

    Does Kena talk?
    Yep! Her voice acting wasn’t finalized in the demo, but Ember Lab’s chief creative officer, Mike Grier, told us that she has plenty to say. Kena is being played by an actress who also sings on
    several of the soundtrack’s songs.

    Where are we, anyway?
    Bridge of Spirits is set in a fictional place that’s an homage to a variety of different Eastern locations. You’ll find nods to Japan, Bali, and other places in the geographic features and architecture. Kena’s not from the place she explores in the game, either. She had to travel quite a distance to get there. Mike jokes that she didn’t ride her bike over, to give you a sense of how far she’s come.

    What’s up with those little guys we saw in the trailer?
    Those are the Rot, and they’re an important part of the game – both in terms of gameplay and the story. As Kena travels around, she can find them hidden in the world (think hidden Toads in a Paper Mario game), and they’ll join her. That name isn’t just coincidental. They’re responsible for decomposing things, and the fact that they’ve been scattered is one of the reasons why this region has become tainted with corruption.

    What can they do?
    Lots of things! Outside of combat, Kena can direct them to move things around to help her. Can’t cross a big gap? Maybe they can pull a broken bridge back into shape temporarily. Can’t climb up to that ledge? They can maneuver a block into position and give her a boost. In combat, Kena can tap into the Rot to distract enemies or infuse her attacks with special power. The Rot are timid by nature, however, and players will have to build their courage by damaging enemies before they’ll enter the fight.

    They can enter the fight? Uh oh. Can they die?
    Nope! Mike doesn’t want players to see the Rot as a consumable resource; once you find a Rot, they’re part of the team forever. You don’t need to worry about digging tiny little graves or anything morbid like that.

    What can Kena do?
    She can do lots of things. Besides using her staff’s basic light, heavy, and charged attacks, she can get an upgrade that bends the staff and turns it into a bow. On defense, she can use a pulse ability to create a bubble-like shield around her. It has its own health meter, which gets depleted by enemy attacks. If she times its activation correctly, it will stagger enemies and make them more susceptible to attack.

    Some of that sounds kind of familiar. Is this like a 3D Zelda?
    If you got those kinds of vibes from the trailer, you’re not far off. There’s definitely a 3D Zelda influence in the game, which shouldn’t come as a surprise considering an earlier Ember Lab project… [LINK TO MAJORA’S MASK FILM]

    Is there any kind of character customization?
    We didn’t see Kena put on different clothing or get any cosmetic upgrades during our demo. Players can outfit the Rot with a variety of different hats, however. Those can be found in the world, and players can purchase hats for individual members of the Rot crew by spending gems that are also found in the world.

    Are there microtransactions?

    That sounds really cute. Is there going to be a way for me to capture how adorable my team looks?
    If you’re asking about a photo mode, the team shares your enthusiasm. Josh says the studio wants to include such a mode, but they can’t say whether that feature will make it in time for launch or if it would come via a later update.

    What engine did they build this with?
    Weird question, but Ember Lab built Kena: Bridge of Spirits with Unreal 4. An earlier prototype was built in Unity, but development shifted over to Unreal.

    Is this an open-world game?
    Nope! You’ll encounter a village fairly early on in the game, and that serves as a hub. From there, you can travel to several connected regions. Think of it as being wide linear. There are secrets to find and things to discover off the main path, but it’s not an open-world game.

    What is the advantage of PS5 vs PS4?
    We only saw the game running on PlayStation 5, so we can’t offer any side-by-side comparisons, but there are differences between the PS4 and PS5 versions. One of the most notable is the number of Rot that you’ll see onscreen. On PS5, all of them can be visible simultaneously. On PS4, you’ll still be able to collect all 100 of them in the world, but you’ll see fewer of them at a time. They won’t be any less effective in combat or during puzzle solving, but there won’t be as many of them visible at once. Also, the forests and overall foliage is denser on PlayStation 5.

    How long is it?
    It’s tough to put an exact number on this, because of the number of side activities, but Josh says they set out to make something players could comfortably finish over a weekend.

    How much does it cost?
    Kena: Bridge of Spirits isn’t going to be priced at $60. We don’t know the exact price yet, but it won’t cost as much as a traditional full-priced retail game. If you buy it on PS4, you can upgrade the game to PS5 at no additional cost, too.

    It looks cute, but is it challenging?
    Mike says the team has a lot of Sekiro and Soulsborne fans on the dev team, and while the game isn’t quite up to FromSoftware's difficulty, players will be challenged on the highest setting. On the other end of the spectrum, enemies won’t be able to one-shot you in most difficulty settings; you’ll be able to sustain one final sliver of health to give you a fighting chance against tougher enemies. Ember Lab wanted to make a game that families could enjoy together, whether your family just wants to enjoy the story or is looking for tougher battles.

    This all sounds good, but I don’t have a PlayStation. Am I out of luck?
    You’re not! It’s also coming to PC via the Epic Games Store. As for when, Ember Lab hasn’t nailed down a specific release date, but you can expect to be playing it within a few months from now.
    20 Questions (And Answers) About Kena: Bridge Of Spirits - Game Informer
    Attached Images Attached Images 329-cover-800h.jpg kena_branchtosser.jpg kena_forest_w0.jpg kena_combatcu.jpg kena_fullgame_screenshot_p_.jpg kena_fishingrot.jpg