Title: Kena: Bridge of Spirits | Developer: Ember Lab | Expected Release: Holiday 2020

Having now had a first glimpse of a whole host of next generation console games, there is more reason than ever to be excited about virtual photography. There are the obvious big hitters, such as Marvel's Spider Man: Miles Morales from Insomniac Games and Guerrilla's Horizon Forbidden West, but they are not the only things to have caught my photographic eye.

One of several titles from indie studios shown during Sony's PS5 reveal, Kena: Bridge of Spirits is a story-driven action adventure game which looks especially captivating with an intriguing tale gorgeous visuals that belie the size of the team involved in creating it. If you haven't already had the pleasure, here's the trailer for the game which will be releasing for PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4 and PC later this year...

Lead by brothers Josh and Mike Grier, the California-based creators, Ember Lab, consists of just 14 people with a collective passion for creating character-driven and cinematic stories. Originally formed as an animation studio, their previous work includes the production of short CGI-based films, such as the highly acclaimed fan film Majora's Mask - Terrible Fate and the award winning sci-fi fantasy story, Dust. This storytelling background makes the studio's debut into the gaming world an all the more fascinating project.

Kena's journey of self-discovery will see players pitted against ominous wandering spirits in battle

The prospect of such a disciplinary cross-over, as talented animators and motivated storytellers turn to video games as the perfect platform to create an immersive and engaging experience, is an exciting one. What's more, I can't help but feel that there is a certain parallel between the transition of the creator's work from cinematic to interactive and the way in which photo modes draw players in to connect with their games in a more engaging way than ever before. Far from a simple hunt for graphical fidelity, virtual photography thrives on inspiring content that provokes thoughtful composition and artistic expression, just look at Concrete Genie for example, and Ember Lab's tale seems to have plenty of potential to inspire.

[ concept art courtesy of Ember Lab ]

With very evident influence from traditional Japanese culture, the game world centres on rich forests and mountain shrines that would be well suited to being photographed. Meanwhile, title character Kena's journey of self-discovery will see players pitted against ominous wandering spirits in battle while recruiting help from some more adorable companions along the way. In fact, one of the game's most interesting concepts comes from these helpful, Pikmin-esque fur balls, who were arguably the star of the show in the trailer. Not-so-affectionately know as Rot, Kena's spirit helpers literally embody the life force that is released from the decay of dead and rotting elements. If you're looking for some thematic inspiration, there it is.

I can't wait to see and learn more about this game, but from what we know so far, it seems to be a testament to the underlying desire of the team at Ember Lab and an amazing example of what can be achieved by a passionate group with a creative direction. My only hope is that they have also had the vision to embrace the creativity of their audience with a little bit of photo mode love. If we're given the chance, this could be a beautiful journey on which to take our virtual cameras.

Kena: Bridge of Spirits is slated for release in the 2020 Holiday season, along side PS5 to you and I. Let me know if it's the kind of game you would enjoy in the comments or on Twitter.


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[ Tags: #FirstLook | #Kena | #PS5 | #PhotoMode ]

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