You’ve actually played Ember Lab’s debut game, Kena: Bridge of Spirits, before, several times. Previously known as Jak and Daxter, God of War, or Horizon Zero Dawn, this game is basically all those games but with a fresh coat of culturally appropriative Princess Mononoke slathered on top.
Although there’s currently a dearth of titles for the PlayStation 5, and despite its attractive $39.99 price, we can’t recommend you pick this one up. Honestly, it’s so boring and repetitive that we’re going to skip doing a full review of it all. But if you do happen to obtain a copy, you’ve got something to look forward to: Minions.
Yes, Minions. Stay with us.
Blight — Called the Rot, Kena’s take on the ubiquitous Despicable Me sidekicks are gentler, quieter, and cuter. They populate its world and assist you, a “spirit guide” battling evil spirits and saving nature Fern Gully style, along your journey. Throughout the game, they’ll pop up to help you move objects, zip past you to rest adorably on set pieces, and Megazord into a large creature to defend you.
They’re so cute and move so fluidly that it’s almost worth the price of admission to see a small cadre of pals interact with the game’s world so dynamically and in such fresh and interesting ways. At various points, you can interact with them, watch them play, dress them up, or teach them new tricks. It’s everything Sonic’s Chao garden once promised us it would be.
Hey, look over here — Which leaves us wondering why the team at Ember Lab didn’t focus the entire game on these little guys. Why did we need yet another title starring a slender young person with a weapon wandering around the forest spitting platitudes about “nature” and “balance”? Why not give us a Rabbids game without the migraine those little guys inevitably induce? Nothing in the game’s barebones story about saving the world from vaguely brown-looking tree spirits has anything original to offer except for the fun and joy of watching the Rot play, fight, and cooperate with each other.
2.0 — To cut their developers some slack, this is Ember Lab’s first game and we at Input are highly anticipating whatever they follow it up with after learning a few lessons on their maiden voyage. Take a look at their Majora’s Mask fan film Terrible Fate and tell me they don’t have style. Next time let’s just pray they focus a bit more on the substance. Or at least clone Pikman.