Ember Lab surprised the world in 2021 with Kena: Bridge of Spirits, an ambitious indie game with cutscenes that look like they belong in a Pixar movie and a main character who is ready to be an action heroine. Even though Kena: Bridge of Spirits has many of the features that have come to define modern action-adventure games, it stands out because of its South-East Asian influences, which are clear in the game's soundtrack and colorful graphics. When Kena came out, gamers didn't know about Ember Lab, but after that, it became one of the studios to keep an eye on.
Kena has been on the market for a while and has won its fair share of awards in that time. Ember Lab hasn't said much about its plans or whether it will keep making games, so gamers don't know much about what it has in mind. Ember Lab is good at making animated movies, but it should stick to making video games because that's where it has the skills to make masterpieces.
Ember Lab is a small studio that was started by brothers Mike and Josh Grier in 2009. The studio started out by making animated shorts and commercials for companies like Coca-Cola, Hi-Sense, and MLB. This helped them gain experience and build a good portfolio. Ember Lab also started making animated short films. This is where its interest in video games became clear, since The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask was the inspiration for its short film Terrible Fate.
Mike Grier says that the idea to make a video game came up during a lunch conversation. Even though they didn't have any experience making video games, they were able to sell their idea to Sony because they were used to pitching business ideas. When the game was first shown to the world, everyone was immediately drawn to its cute art style and fun environments. But since the studio was unknown, people were skeptical about whether or not it could do what it said it could do.
Kena: Bridge of Spirits won the hearts of both gamers and critics when it came out because the small studio was able to do its idea well. It also won the Best Independent Game Award and the Best Debut Independent Game Award at The Game Awards in 2021, which was a great start for Ember Lab in the gaming world. Kena was one of the most talked-about games of 2021, and it showed that Ember Lab is a good, award-winning studio.
Kena: Bridge of Spirits is an indie game that has a lot of soul.
Kena is a spirit guide who helps troubled souls make their way to the spirit world. Troubled souls who can't let go sometimes cause trouble, but Kena gets help from the Rot, which are cute black balls of fluff that give her extra moves and help her solve puzzles in the environment. The Rot are already cute, but players can make them even cuter by giving them tiny hats that they wear when they follow Kena around. Kena's main weapon is her staff, which she can use to make a bow that shoots arrows of light.
The game tells a sad story about loss and grief through a group of interesting characters. Along the way, players will meet characters who have been through terrible things, and it is Kena's job to help them deal with their pain, even if that means a tough battle first. The emotional highs are stronger because the game doesn't have a lot of dialogue. Instead, it lets players figure out what's going on through facial expressions and hints. Some players might think the story is weak because of this, but others might like the subtle way it is told.
Kena's gameplay is hard, which may come as a surprise. When it's time to take on the bosses, players will find themselves with sweaty palms. Some critics have compared the game to God of War and Dark Souls because the enemies have different moves and can be both fair and tough during battles. This, along with the amazing music, makes sure that Kena's boss fights are unforgettable.
Will more games be made by Ember Lab?
kena bridge of spirits ember lab
After Kena: Bridge of Spirits was a big hit, it would be interesting to see what Ember Lab comes up with next. Even though Kena is great, especially when it comes to its cutscenes, Ember Lab can still make a lot of improvements. But the studio's future seems uncertain, and it's possible that its next steps won't be related to games. When asked about a possible Kena sequel, Josh said that it wasn't really in the works, even though the game's world has a lot of story ideas. Josh said that if the world of Kena is studied more, it will be through "a more linear experience, like a TV show or movie." The studio has a lot of experience with animation, so it could do it well.
Fans of Ember Lab games shouldn't give up hope, but they also shouldn't expect anything soon. The Grier brothers told Wired how exciting it was to work with the PS5's hardware and how they want to use it more. They also let it slip that in "game two," they plan to use the SSD and build mechanics around it. If the brothers keep talking about ideas, it could be years before gamers get a finished product.
Ember Lab hasn't forgotten about Kena, and the game still gets regular updates that add new hats, some of which have holiday themes. The studio has also said it would like to put Kena on other platforms. Ember Lab showed with Kena that it has a lot of potential and hopefully has another game coming out soon.
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