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Kena: Bridge of Spirits review - a gorgeous yet unoriginal adventure [EuroGamer]

A bridge too far. Kena is smooth as a pebble - a game engineered to be so unoffensive there's no reason not to play it, or to play it at all.

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Jin_Sakai35d ago

Have to say this review is in the minority like PC Gamer. From what I’ve read so far it’s a great game and most reviews seem to really like it.

solideagle35d ago

First comment on this review is awesome.

"I don't know how respectful this game is when it comes to employing its cultural influences as I need to play it first, but I just want to comment about that second-to-last paragraph, because it's so loaded.

...here too I fear Ember Lab simply took a little of what everyone likes and put it in their game. ...it made it difficult for me to tell if all these characters with Japanese names were in fact Japanese. ...The game uses... iconography, Balinese influences and mixes them, presumably because they look cool. I always get a bit uncomfortable... when religious practice or ideas such as karma are used as game mechanics, completely untethered from any meaning. You may not care, but...
The thing that struck me about this paragraph is how both apologetic and judgmental it is both to the reader and the developer. I can almost see the term "cultural appropriation" hiding behind it, of which I loathe. I'm not going to discuss that here, but as an Indonesian, I want to give kudos to the developers (who are Los Angelenos/Americans) for trying their best to be respectful and faithful to the game's cultural inspirations.

I am of a different Indonesian ethnic group from the Balinese but I can say with almost certainty that my countrymen loves it when foreigners learn about our cultures, of which we have more than thousands. We are quite strict as to how they are portrayed, and the Balinese is no exception. I would even argue that the Balinese is among the strictest ones, as their traditional way of life is inseparable from their religion (Hinduism), hence that harmony arguably make the island the most famous place in Indonesia for cultural tourists.

According to wikipedia, Ember Lab worked very closely with a gamelan ensemble group in Bali (Gamelan Cudamani) for the soundtrack. They even had one of the singers to voice Kena and sing for the soundtracks. The group was hesitant, but:
When Gallaty [the composer] presented samples of sacred music, Berata [founder of the Balinese ensemble group] would inform him if it was inappropriate, and instead create a new composition with a similar feeling.
So trust me, if Ember Lab could convince a musical group dedicated to devotional service performances to collaborate, then they must have done something right.

What I'm saying is, if cultural accuracy makes you hesitant to get this game then please, DON'T BE. I think this game is a big step in the right direction, namely cultural learning. This might be a very good opportunity for global audience to learn about a culture that is different from the most popular ones in video gaming, i.e. European, American, Japanese, etc. Putting Ember Lab on the spot just for trying something different while they had done lots to learn is just... unfair, as even us Indonesians don't have the right to judge them and scream murder because they didn't get the game to be culturally 'accurate' down to the tiniest details in the first attempt.

And if the game was inaccurate anyway? Well, we can just laugh at the silliness on display. Just like how China laughed at Disney's Mulan (2020)."

-Foxtrot35d ago

Funny because when something like the next same old Assassins Creed drops, COD or hell even the next BotW 2 Eurogamer will gobble it up

Zhipp34d ago

Wow. It's almost like it's possible to like some games and dislike others.

Magog35d ago

Eurogamer write trash reviews. If it's not Nintendo or some ugly pixel art indie they don't like it.

Magog35d ago

They don't give scores...

Magog35d ago

Eurogamer doesn't give numbered scores. Who the hell is up voting this comment and down voting mine? You can argue with me but not with reality.

Orchard35d ago

They gave a glowing review to Deathloop, calling it Arkane’s best game.

That isn’t Nintendo, so is it an ugly pixel art indie?

Magog35d ago

The rare exception that proves the rule.

CBaoth35d ago

there's an agenda behind Deathloop. Next up Tokyo Ghost.

Cultural appropriation negatively impacted the review here. The author takes umbrage with Ember Labs without researching anything the developer did prior to actual development. The Ghost of Tsushima-Sucker Punch controversy rears its ugly head AGAIN. I play video games to escape politics, not endure more of the same. And judging by the OP's comment she is wildly inaccurate. But I doubt I see a retraction - that's not what snowflakes do.

35d ago
darkrider35d ago

It's a Microsoft studio isn't...

TheDoomedGuy34d ago

Dude....death loop a game which features 2 black leads? Yes of course they gave it glowing reviews....this game however is getting attacked by the mob media for cultural appropriation which it doesn't do.

This is becoming what days gone was...those if us not politically inclined in our opinions or fanboyism can love it or at the very least appreciate the game in its genre...the rest seem to hate it....the politically inclined and fanboy type.

+ Show (2) more repliesLast reply 34d ago
OptimusDK35d ago

But still an opinion - sorry it does not fit you.
Have you tried it so you can make up your own mind.

SyntheticForm35d ago

I'm really enjoying the game, but I get the "unoriginal" criticism. It's really doggone tough to be original these days.

Kena reminds me a lot of Ori; another story about a hero seeking to remove blight from "the land" and restore balance and nature. I'm enjoying the visuals, music, and charm, but it's not original and that's not a "slight" or a "knock" it's just a fair observation.

Played an hour so far - will continue tomorrow.

dbcoops35d ago

You've pointed out the very problem with the originality complaint, very few games are original anymore yet this excuse gets pulled out rather conveniently when certain outlets want to use it to criticize and give a poor review. There's no consistency not that that's surprising at all when it comes to biased game "journalists" but if we're going to complain about originality here than we should hear this same BS excuse for almost any game review and we don't.

35d ago
TheDoomedGuy34d ago

So i guess no game is original since I can probably pinpoint something else that it looks, reminds me of and feels like.

And you're right it shouldn't knock it down....shouldn't even be mentioned since it's a given that games take inspiration from other games and therefore lose some originality....i personally think in the current landscape that it is highly original...hard to find this type of game nowadays.

EvertonFC35d ago

"yet unoriginal" so like 90% of all the other games then?

Sol4ris35d ago

" Kena is smooth as a pebble - a game engineered to be so unoffensive there's no reason not to play it, or to play it at all"

I see...this reads like a perfect game for PS+ or a heavily discounted price. It does look beautiful though D.

dbcoops35d ago

$39.99 is very reasonable for this great game.

EvertonFC35d ago

£32 in the UK bargain prices for what seems like a great game.

35d ago
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