Everything about Kena: Bridge of Spirits looks absolutely beautiful. The entire experience looks like a Disney movie, in the very best way. Its interesting premise is complimented by fast-paced combat, stunning visuals, and best of all, adorable little spirit creatures that follow Kena on her journey collectively known as the Rot. Plush toys of these do exist and were even featured as a giveaway prize by the official Kena: Bridge of Spirits Instagram account.
Largely because of the Rot, Kena has been compared to another game: Pikmin. It's not without good reason; the cute little creatures that follow Kena are remarkably similar to Pikmin, the plant-like creatures from an alien planet that help the player on their journey. The comparison, overall, may end up being one of the best parts of the game.
The Rot don't have the most attractive name, but it is quite relevant to what they do. The Rot are described as shy spirits who help maintain balance in nature by decomposing materials. It doesn't sound like a glamorous job, but when considering that Kena's job is to help the dead reconcile past hurts or regrets, it actually makes a lot of sense, albeit in a slightly dark way. Luckily for them, they're too cute for anyone to notice.
Although shy, the Rot take a liking to Kena and help her in battle. Kena "collects" more of the Rot throughout her journey to build a little army of them, and they work together as one to assist in combat and help her make new discoveries. The Rot have powerful abilities, both collectively and individually, that the player can use to Kena's advantage by giving them commands. When not in combat, the Rot follow Kena around like a swarm of ducklings.
Teaming up with the Rot looks like a lot of fun, and might be the thing players are most excited about. They've certainly been stealing the show so far. Combat with the Rot looks dynamic and fluid and it will be exciting to see what kinds of abilities they actually have and how they empower Kena.
For someone unfamiliar with Pikmin, the idea of the Rot and the mechanics associated with them may seem completely new. But, Kena: Bridge of Spirits is actually not the first game to employ these types of mechanics. The Pikmin series utilized a similar system on the GameCube in 2001, and have continued through 2020 with Pikmin 3 Deluxe and the upcoming mobile game.
Like the Rot, the origin of Pikmin is found in nature. There are several different kinds of Pikmin that each have different abilities, but given that they are plant-like creatures, all of those abilities tie back to natural phenomena. The Rot are spirits, not humanoid plants, so there is a difference and the Rot will undoubtedly serve a different purpose in the larger story, but there are quite a few similarities.
Pikmin assist the player in a way that is very similar to the Rot. The player can command huge groups of them at one time and utilize their different abilities to defeat enemies, solve puzzles, and make new discoveries. Players are also responsible for protecting their army of Pikmin, because they can be hurt in combat.
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