A version of this post appears in Game Informer Publication issue 329.
Kena: Bridge of Spirits debuted during Sony’s PlayStation 5 event, so it was just fitting that we got to see it running on the upcomingconsole That’s not the only way players can experience the game, which is also coming out on PlayStation 4 and PC via the Epic Games Store, however we were delighted to see what the next- gen hardware gives the table. As it turns out, the response is relatively intriguing.
First up, there’s the matter of loadtimes Sony has actually promoted the speed of the PS5’s solid-state drive, and how it essentially gets rid of long loads. In practice, we saw as Kena was introduced from the PlayStation 5 system menu. It took about 2 seconds. That’s not resuming a suspended game, however releasing the game fresh.
“They have a whole thing set up where you can do transition and it’s very nice, but frankly it doesn’t have time to play the animation. It just loads the game so fast,” says Josh Grier, chief operating officer at Ash Laboratory.
The game wasn’t initially designed with the PS5’s hardware specifications in mind, however the extra horse power has actually permitted Ash Laboratory to do more within the borders it at first developed.
“It’s been really nice,” says primary imaginative officer Mike Grier. “We’ve been on development on PS4 for most of the project, and squeezing it and getting the performance that we wanted out of it was a nightmare. But having done all that, when we went to PS5 it was nice, because we had a good baseline and then we could just add to it and take advantage of the extra juice.”
Some of the changes appear relatively significant. We didn’t see a side- by-side contrast on the game running on PS5 and PS4, however Mike says the forest is more thick and rich in thePS5 version He says that combat is one of the game’s fundamental components, and making sure that it carried out well on the older hardware took concern over the amount of foliage players would see in the environments.
Another thing that will most likely appear is the number of Rot that players will see in theworld There are 100 of the small animals to find in the world, and PlayStation 5 players can possibly see all of them scuttling around onscreen all at once. On PlayStation 4, you can still find all of the Rot, however they won’ t all be represented aesthetically. Mike says that even with the game’s aggressive level-of- information scaling on the animals, the performance suffered excessive on PS4 with the entire team onscreen, so they needed to make concessions. Their performance is the very same on both variations, however the visual distinctions exist.
The PlayStation 5’s controller is another substantial upgrade. “The triggers on the DualSense controller have resistance on them, so we’re utilizing that for the heavy attacks, but also for the bow,” Mikesays “You draw it, and the way it sounds and the resistance feels like a bow tightening up.”
“The triggers are a part of it, but when you get the haptics in the hands, it really brings it all together,” Joshadds “Obviously, you feel the tension in your trigger finger, but when you’ve got the bow drawn and you add the Rot into it, we can dynamically say, ‘OK, this right palm feels the Rot jumping into it.’ And then when we use the Rot cloud, as the cloud shifts from left to right on the screen, you can feel it transitioning from left to right in your hand, as well.”
Designer Liz Fiacco says she was especially delighted about that haptic feedback, which supplies a higher degree of feedback to players than the standard rumble. She says that when she operated at Naughty Dog, the team there used a tool to create rumble on the fly using DualShock inputs. On PlayStation 5, haptic feedback is managed using an audio wave, which offers creators much more liberty on how it’s executed. “We’re a small team, and there’s only so much experimentation we can do with it, but we’ve gotten some cool stuff in already,” she says.
Because the team is building the game for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5, there’s a reasonable bit of changing around in between older and newer hardware. Unsurprisingly, there’s a quite clear winner, at least according to Josh. “Once you go here, it’s kind of hard to go back,” he says, indicating the PS5 controller in his hand. “I like the DualShock controller, don’t get me wrong, but I want to play with this guy.”
If you’re still on the fence about making the next- gen shift, or aren’t able to get one at launch, that does not suggest you should not check out Kena on PS4. To sweeten the offer, Ash Laboratory has announced that players who pick up the game on PS4 can get a free PS5 upgrade when they choose to update to the next console generation.