Rather a lot rests on the shoulders of a sport’s protagonist. In spite of everything, the participant has to embody that character and needs to be drawn to them and their world. In Ember Lab’s Kena: Bridge of Spirits, we’re transported to a superbly animated non secular realm simply begging to be explored. Kena is our information. She has an aura of thriller round her, but in addition radiates a form heat. Plus, she’s acquired to be fairly superior if all these cute Rot wish to assist her. Whereas studying extra about Kena: Bridge of Spirits for this month’s cowl story, we couldn’t resist discovering out extra about our main girl and the story behind her creation.
Selecting A Protagonist
Imagine it or not, Kena was not all the time the star of the Ember Lab’s debut sport. Early prototypes targeted extra on the black critters known as the Rot, experimenting with them because the antagonists after which relying closely on them out and in of battle to drive the sport. In truth, Kena was not even within the crew’s first prototype. “She was a part of the following one we did, and it was fleshing out her story and the story of what makes her distinctive and why the Rot trusts her and connects together with her; that was a giant a part of her improvement and the look of her and the talents that we needed her to have,” says chief artistic officer Mike Grier.
In earlier prototypes, Kena was a lot youthful, round seven or eight years outdated, however that modified because the crew thought extra concerning the story and what was on the core of it. “As we developed extra of a narrative and the themes and we knew we needed her to be a spirit information to assist these spirits transfer on, she wanted a bit extra expertise to do this,” Grier explains. “She’s nonetheless a youthful spirit information, nevertheless it didn’t really feel proper to have her being a baby making an attempt to empathize with these darker, extra grownup themes.”
Ember Lab favored the thought of getting Kena and the Rot come collectively for a typical purpose of restoration, and the evolution began there. “As we began creating her character and the thought of her guiding spirits and serving to out different people, that’s when she began to actually get her personal identification, and we needed to make her so on her personal she will be able to stand toe-to-toe with these greater spirits. And I feel that offers her loads of what individuals join with once they see her and why individuals like her a lot.” Grier says.
Getting Kena’s Look Simply Proper
As soon as Ember Lab had settled on Kena and a few of her core traits, it was time to start out placing collectively her design. The crew enlisted the assistance of its lead character designer Vic Kun, a longtime Ember Lab collaborator who has been constructing a reputation for himself within the Chinese language animation scene. “Since she is our fundamental hero, we developed many variations and explored variations in shade,” Kun says. “We struggled a bit to discover a stability between Kena’s design becoming into the world whereas nonetheless permitting her to face out. Our general temper and tone of the surroundings is normally very forested and generally fairly darkish within the shadows of timber.”
Because of these challenges, some concessions wanted to be made earlier than deciding on Kena’s look. “We resolve to make use of 60 p.c off-white on her garments and blend in earth tone as a lot as attainable,” Kun says. “Mike and I additionally tried to work in an extended cape ingredient to assist Kena stand out a bit within the foliage. However when Animation began including pure motion to the piece, it ended up being distracting. So, we modified that right into a tighter scarf. It nonetheless has some motion and helps break up Kena’s define.”
Even the little particulars mattered, akin to ensuring the needlework was seen on Kena’s scarf and pants. “The primary concept of the design for her costume is asymmetry in each element and including a handmade ingredient, Kun explains. “We tried to make her garments really feel handmade, sensible, and useful.” The crew additionally added particulars to the symbols to create a novel tradition for the sport. “We drew inspiration from Japanese and South East Asian cultures to tell the designs of our symbols,” Kun says.
One a part of Kena’s look that can get extra explored within the narrative is a scar on her arm. “You simply see a bit bit on her hand nevertheless it really runs up her complete arm onto her shoulder,” Grier says. “It represents this traumatic expertise she had together with her father.” As a result of it’s a giant plot level, we gained’t spoil something on how she will get it or the way it impacts the plot, however she does type a particular reference to the primary Rot she meets attributable to it.
A Motive To Combat
At its core, Kena: Bridge of Spirits is a extra peaceable journey that has her being one with nature and on a quest primarily to revive peace and assist troubled spirits in want. Nonetheless, Ember Lab needed her to have some battle and funky powers to deal with it. The crew experimented with loads of totally different concepts; at one level the Rot ran your entire present, “Initially, she didn’t have many skills of her personal, she was type of principally like A Boy and his Blob; you’ll be able to’t stand by yourself, you want the blob to do the whole lot for you,” Grier shares.
Nonetheless, because the crew performed round extra with totally different ideas, they settled on one thing that felt proper and made sense for Kena as a spirit information. “One of many ways in which we’ve carried out that was ensuring that Kena feels powered up together with her spirit power and with the Rot, so it doesn’t really feel like she’s the Hulk by herself,” says designer Liz Fiacco. “There’s this magical edge to our fight. Making an attempt to make enemies threatening so it looks like she must defend herself versus she’s come right here to put waste to all these threats within the forest. I feel these two appear to be the angles we’ve used to maintain Kena constant by means of fight.”
Ember Lab additionally needed to make sure that fight felt reasonable to Kena’s skills and energy. In spite of everything, she is dealing with off towards enraged spirits. “She battles some fairly huge spirits, and we would like them to really feel intimidating,” Grier says. “A design purpose for each fight sport is: What would you like the fight to really feel like? Once you’re with Kratos, you’re simply final energy. However Kena will get tossed round quite a bit. If she will get hit by a giant assault, she’ll go flying and we needed to make her really feel weak in that sense. She’s sturdy, however she’s not this brutish type of [combatant].”
Kena might not be overpowered, however she will be able to make up for it in attention-grabbing methods. She will name within the Rot for assist to wreck and distract enemies as soon as their braveness meter is excessive sufficient, use her pulse skill to provide a bubble that acts as a defend, or smack enemies with mild and heavy assaults utilizing her employees. She will even flip mentioned employees right into a bow for ranged assaults.
Kena is not as huge because the spirits she faces, however she will be able to use her agility to her benefit as effectively. “Kena’s mobility is one thing that I’ve been pushing for, and it’s been a problem making enemies having the ability to sustain together with her, as a result of she will be able to dash, run, double bounce, however I feel her mobility is admittedly enjoyable,” Grier says.
Making Kena’s Journey Matter
Whereas Kena: Bridge of Spirits actually looks like a whimsical journey, teeming with childlike marvel in discoveries and cute characters, it additionally offers with some extra critical and contemplative material. Kena’s journey shall be an emotional one at instances. “Kena’s connecting with these spirits and having to allow them to go, and we’re making an attempt to place that very same type of emotional weight within the participant’s fingers as a lot as we will,” Grier says. “If we will nail that and nothing else, I’ll be blissful.”
“As Kena helps out others, she learns about herself and features one thing hopefully past sympathy, however extra towards empathy and understanding issues,” provides designer Jessica Kernan. “That may type of assist her additional her personal private improvement, which in flip helps her assist different individuals. So we’re concerning these huge, lofty concepts of how expertise, even the dangerous issues, can lead us to relating higher to different people, principally.”
It seems like Kena: Bridge of Spirits has loads of knowledge to supply, and we are going to study it by means of Kena, who Ember Labs clearly put loads of thought into creating and making distinctive.