After teasing us for over two hours in our demo with the promise of 100 cute and cuddly Rot to collect and use, EmberLabs’ co-founders Josh and Mike Grier finally cave in and show us the mass of wholesome goodness in action. On screen 100 big-eyed, black squidgy creatures dance to our every command.
It’s hard not to be impressed by the spectacle. Running on PS5 there’s no slowdown, the 4K visuals remain clean and sharp, and every Rot has its own personality and action. Some will follow obediently, some will dally in the Disney-like colourful scenery, while others play and tussle with one another. We know they’re individual little Rotties because we bought one a hat earlier, using the game’s Gem currency, and we can see the cap bobbing around amid the muddle of cuteness.
While the developer is aiming to bring the same level of detail to the PS4 edition of Kena: Bridge Of Spirits, currently you can only see 20 Rot on screen at once.
ROT A LOT
Your Rot matter because they’re the glue that binds everything in the game together. Out of combat you use your Rot to manipulate the environment and solve puzzles; you can command them to help move objects, such as statues and boulders, in order to discover secrets and collectibles.
Areas of the world are locked away if you don’t have enough Rot to open new paths or solve puzzles. Usefully the DualSense rumbles lightly when a Rot is hidden nearby, and on the map we see tallies indicating how many Rot remain in areas of the world.
“It’s a pretty big world, so to go and find all 100 Rots could be a little difficult,” says Mike Grier.
“Even if you know there’s two Rot left it’s still a challenge to find them,” adds Josh Grier.
“You’ll want to as well, because when you find that last Rot the entire world opens up,” chips in Mike.
In the heat of action they join protagonist Kena to buffher weapons and create Rot-enhanced attacks. We see the Rot Hammer in action. It’s a heavy attack on i. We grin as the tiny goofs gather around Kena’s staffand turn its tip into a weighty hammer. As she smashes it down into a corrupted spirit the little guys explode off, becoming a makeshift projectile attack.
Your tribe of Rot won’t be at your side from the offduring combat. First Kena must swing solo to coax the playful creatures from hiding. By landing combos of hits on her enemies you build courage, and the better you do, the more Rot come to join the fight. And the more Rot you’ve found in the world, the more abilities you can summon.
As you make progress through the game not only can you build your Rot army to make life a little easier, you’re able to unlock new abilities and moves. During our demo we’re shown an upgrade that permanently empowers a portion of our Rot, so we begin every fight with a pack of the little guys to call upon, enough for one attack.
A new late-game weapon the team show us is the Rot Bomb. This explosion of whimsy can be used to harm enemies or clear areas of the environment. Hurl a ball of Rot at enemies and they’ll explode before scurrying away to rejoin the pack.
When you’re not weaponising your Rot they can be used in more tactical ways, to swarm enemies and disorientate them just long enough for Kena to strike. As a crowd control method your Rot come in handy, and the more them you can collect, the greater your chance of managing larger groups of enemies.
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