Kena: Bridge of Spirits — out now on PC, PS4, and PS5 — is the first game for California-based studio Ember Lab, which was previously in the business of making animated shorts and commercials. No wonder then that the most successful thing about Kena: Bridge of Spirits is its character designs and animations. The titular protagonist Kena (voiced by Dewa Ayu Dewi Larassanti) feels like a Studio Ghibli heroine designed by way of Disney, Pixar, and Laika. Kena is accompanied everywhere by tiny cute little creatures who can be best described as furry black-coloured Minions (though they aren’t bumbling fools). Some side characters are really adorable too. And all of them are at their best in Kena: Bridge of Spirits’ photo mode, where they pose, say cheese, and come alive.This is all set in a world inspired by Asian cultures, primarily Japanese and Balinese. Inari fox statues dot the landscape, torii gates are pulled from Shinto, and the game’s lovely background gamelan orchestra score (more so when Kena is exploring) involves a collaboration with Baliense ensemble Gamelan Çudamani. But Kena: Bridge of Spirits never really justifies its setting, in why its story needs to borrow from — a cynic might say “appropriate”, instead of borrow — the cultures that it does. After all, Ember Lab is happy to stick with Western English accents everywhere, which doesn’t sit well with its love for all things visually Eastern.Speaking of the story, Kena: Bridge of Spirits doesn’t ever really pull you in. That’s largely because its characters aren’t fleshed out, with Kena herself being short-changed, so you aren’t really motivated to do what the game wants you to. And though the game has some strong thematic building blocks — it’s about grief, healing, and moving on — Ember Labs is unable to come up with mechanics that might illustrate that through gameplay on Kena: Bridge of Spirits. For the most part, it’s a standard action platformer relying on the same tools that power Sony’s biggest franchises (from God of War to Horizon Zero Dawn) meshed with its obvious Zelda inspirations. All merged in one. The only good thing is that it’s not bloated, coming in at eight to nine hours.From Kena: Bridge of Spirits to eFootball, Games to Play in SeptemberA couple of enemy types in Kena: Bridge of SpiritsPhoto Credit: Ember LabsKena: Bridge of Spirits opens with a text crawl, telling us that it takes place in a world where people build wooden masks to honour those who’ve died and help guide their spirits to the next world. But some spirits get stuck at times, manifesting into tree-like contortions and corrupting the world. That’s where Kena comes in. Like her father, Kena is a spirit guide — she is bestowed with a magical staff passed down the family for generations. Kena heals the lost souls (read: bash them repeatedly on the head) and clears out corruption. She is a bridge for spirits, figuratively. But she’s not doing the job alone.The aforementioned furry black Minions known as Rot follow Kena around, and they also help her in multiple ways. Rot can unlock new areas — either by carrying objects one place to another that in turn solve environmental puzzles, or by transforming into a large sealion-like creature for a limited time to clear away corruption. Rot can aid you in Kena: Bridge of Spirits’ combat too — by smashing into enemies, or distracting them that allow you to get in some licks. But Rot need “courage” to emerge in battle, which Kena must build by attacking and picking up golden spheres that enemies drop. (The only problem with Rot is that they are called Rot, which is objectively a terrible name. I suppose Ember Labs wanted them to be a personification of decay, but “rot” is not a good word.)“Courage” has to be judiciously used in Kena: Bridge of Spirits though, as it has other attack and defensive purposes too in combat. You can use it to heal yourself with the help of healing areas activated by Rot inside every combat arena. “Courage” can also be called upon to have Rot destroy enemy spawn points. And lastly, it also powers Kena’s superpowered abilities — from a “Rot Infused Arrow” that deals mighty damage, to a powered “Rot Hammer” that does area-of-effect damage to all enemies around. Staying alive in Kena: Bridge of Spirits is about deciding the best use of the “courage” available to you. All the more important given Kena can’t take a lot of damage.The special abilities — Rot Hammer, Rot Infused Arrow, slo-mo archery, shield boost, and sprint attacks — available in the skill tree all need that aforementioned “karma” currency which is earned by fighting enemies and restoring the corrupted environment around you.Kena deploys the Rot Hammer in Kena: Bridge of SpiritsPhoto Credit: Ember LabsThis is all supplementary to Kena’s primary fighting skills that don’t need “karma” or “courage”. You’ve got a light attack, a heavy attack, shield, dodge, block, parry, and bow and arrow. You’ll need to use a mix of these, in combination with all the special skills, to get through the enemies that Kena: Bridge of Spirits throws at you. As the difficulty scales up with new enemy types, Kena: Bridge of Spirits pushes you to adapt as well. While I could get by with light attacks early on, against bigger enemies, I found myself using dodge more often, dispatching Rot to tie them up, and then shooting powerful arrows from a distance. But since Kena: Bridge of Spirits’ arenas tend to be on the small side, combat did end up being button mashing at times — which is not fun.Outside of that, combat is interspersed with bits of platforming and traversal puzzling. This mostly involves looking for switches that Rot or your bow can hit, giant flowers that you can latch onto with your bow (just like a grappling hook), or climbing rocks and ledges that are marked conveniently with white paint (is it bird droppings?). If you’re stuck, you can wear those aforementioned wooden masks to see the world through the perspective of other spirits — it highlights objects of interest. But the solutions to certain Kena: Bridge of Spirits puzzles can be obtuse. I got stuck at one sub-level for half an hour once, only to stumble upon a solution that still doesn’t make any logical sense to me.Though Kena: Bridge of Spirits encourages you to explore, this is not an open world. Just like the old Zelda-type games it’s inspired by, its world is split into zones that unlock one after the other. Each zone has the same ultimate goal: free a spirit. That usually involves acquiring a set amount of some item. Doing that in turn will require you to fulfil certain subtasks. It’s all very straightforward. As you make your way through each zone, you’ll come across infestations that block your way. You can clear those using Rot after you defeat the enemies that will inevitably spawn. There will be mini bosses along the way, and a major boss at the end. Game design 101 essentially.You can also choose to sit down anywhere and play with the Rot. Kena will even do this on her own if you let her be for a while.Look how adorable everyone is!Photo Credit: Ember LabsThat said, the world of Kena: Bridge of Spirits is really gorgeous and colourful — even as the game is filled with decay, being stuck, and loneliness — from its dark lantern-lit caves to bright forest outdoors. And that’s from my vantage point on the base PlayStation 4, where smooth performance comes at the cost of graphical detail and visible aliasing (more so when Kena is running). It’s not as if the game is pushing for realism though, with its cartoony textures. And even though I didn’t experience Kena: Bridge of Spirits at its peak, this is how most console gamers will invariably play it, given Sony’s struggles with manufacturing enough PlayStation 5 units to go around. Not to say anything of the further supply issues in India. If you’re on PC, you get a much better deal thanks to Epic’s regional pricing efforts.Ultimately, Kena: Bridge of Spirits is a by-the-numbers 3D action-adventure game. It might look like a modern Zelda game but doesn’t play like one. It’s largely just a series of arena-based combat routines, stitched together by long stretches of traversal, and cutscenes that are well-designed but feel like a forgotten Hollywood B-movie. Too often, Kena: Bridge of Spirits reminds you of better games you’ve played and that it’s borrowing from — which is not a good sign. There’s no harm in learning from others, it’s certainly well made, but it’s lacking in originality. There’s little personality to Kena: Bridge of Spirits, for it’s adopting the sheen of others. For a debut title, this is undoubtedly a good effort — but I fear Ember Labs have played it too safe.Pros:Character design Gorgeous world Short and sweetCons:By-the-numbers title Cultural dissonance Bland storytelling Lacking originality Obtuse puzzlesRating (out of 10): 6Kena: Bridge of Spirits released September 21 on PC, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 5. It costs Rs. 939 on Epic Games Store, and Rs. 3,330 on PlayStation Store.
Windows 11 Build 22000.282 Update Released, AMD Ryzen Processor Latency Issue Fixed
Microsoft is rolling out a new Windows 11 update that fixes issues in AMD-based laptops. The latest Windows 11 software was causing performance issues for some AMD Ryzen processors. It was causing the L3 cache latency to triple and in some eSports games, a performance dip of 10–15 percent was spotted. Microsoft is now resolving…
Microsoft is rolling out a new Windows 11 update that fixes issues in AMD-based laptops. The latest Windows 11 software was causing performance issues for some AMD Ryzen processors. It was causing the L3 cache latency to triple and in some eSports games, a performance dip of 10–15 percent was spotted. Microsoft is now resolving the latency issue with the Windows 11 Build 22000.282. Apart from this, the new Windows 11 update also addresses several other issues including a bug that caused Internet Explorer to stop working when certain characters in the Input Method Editor (IME) were typed.The Redmond company released the Windows 11 Build 22000.282 update on October 21. This is the second build update released after the initial Windows 11 rollout and the first one came with the build number 22000.258. The changelog clearly states that Microsoft addresses the L3 caching issue affecting performance in some applications on devices that have AMD Ryzen processors after upgrading to Windows 11. Microsoft adds that the update also addresses an issue that caused some applications to run slower than usual.Windows 11’s latest update also fixes a host of other problems, including an issue that sometimes caused the lock screen background to appear black if you have set up a slideshow of pictures as your lock screen background. It also fixes an issue that might have caused your Bluetooth mice and keyboards to respond slower than expected.The new Windows 11 Build 22000.282 update fixes an issue for a small number of users that prevented the Start menu from working and prevented users from seeing the updated taskbar after upgrading to Windows 11. The update also improves the time estimate for how long you might wait to use your device after it restarts. There are a host of other improvements and fixes that the latest Windows 11 build brings. You can check out the full changelog here. For the latest tech news and reviews, follow Gadgets 360 on Twitter, Facebook, and Google News. For the latest videos on gadgets and tech, subscribe to our YouTube channel.
Tasneem Akolawala is a Senior Reporter for Gadgets 360. Her reporting expertise encompasses smartphones, wearables, apps, social media, and the overall tech industry. She reports out of Mumbai, and also writes about the ups and downs in the Indian telecom sector. Tasneem can be reached on Twitter at @MuteRiot, and leads, tips, and releases can be sent to email@example.com.
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Redmi Smart TV X With 120Hz Display Refresh Rate Launched; Redmi Router AX1800 Debuts as Well
Redmi Smart TV X and Redmi Router AX1800 were launched in China on Wednesday. The Redmi Smart TV X comes in two display sizes — 55-inch and 65-inch — and features a dual 120Hz display refresh rate, MEMC (Motion Estimation Motion Compensation) for a smoother picture, and 4K resolution. The Redmi Smart TV X also…
Redmi Smart TV X and Redmi Router AX1800 were launched in China on Wednesday. The Redmi Smart TV X comes in two display sizes — 55-inch and 65-inch — and features a dual 120Hz display refresh rate, MEMC (Motion Estimation Motion Compensation) for a smoother picture, and 4K resolution. The Redmi Smart TV X also has FreeSync Premium and Dolby Vision support. The Redmi Router AX1800 features Wi-Fi 6 support and is powered by an unnamed dual-core 880MHz CPU paired with 128MB of RAM. There is no information on when these devices will launch in India.Redmi Smart TV X, Redmi Router AX1800 priceThe Redmi Smart TV X 55-inch is priced at CNY 2,999 (roughly Rs. 35,100), while Redmi Smart TV X 65-inch is priced at CNY 3,999 (roughly Rs. 46,800). The Redmi Router AX1800 will retail for CNY 229 (roughly Rs. 2,700). The Redmi TVs are offered in a single Black colour option while the router will be available in a White colour option.Redmi Smart TV X specificationsThe Redmi Smart TV X sports an ultra-HD (3,840×2,160 pixels) display in 55-inch and 65-inch display sizes with a greyscale response time of 6.5ms, 10bit (8bit + FRC) colour depth support, and 94 percent P3 colour gamut coverage. Furthermore, the Redmi TV models support FreeSync Premium along with Dolby Vision. The display of the Redmi Smart TV X features a 120Hz refresh rate and MEMC for an enhanced viewing experience.For audio, the Redmi Smart TV X comes with four in-built speakers with Dolby Atmos support. It also gets two ducts, a sealed box with 2×0.38L large sound cavity, and a total output of 2×12.5W. Under the hood, the TV is powered by a MediaTek MTK 9650 processor paired with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of onboard storage. Furthermore, the Redmi TV has support for MediaTek’s AI-PQ and AI-AQ picture and audio enhancements.Connectivity options on the Redmi Smart TV X include an HDMI 2.1 port, two HDMI 2.0 ports, an AV port, two USB ports, an S/PDIF port, an RJ-45 port, ATV/ DTMB, and four microphones that support far-field voice.Redmi Router AX1800 specificationsThe Redmi Router AX1800 reportedly supports Wi-Fi 6 connectivity with Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access (OFDMA). The router has four external 5dBi high-gain omnidirectional antennas that support LDPC error correction algorithms to improve the anti-interference capabilities and signal coverage for data transmission.The router is powered by an unnamed dual-core 880MHz processor paired with 128MB of RAM. Connectivity options include a WAN port and 3 LAN ports. The Redmi Router AX1800 supports beamforming, BSS colouring, WPA3, MU-MIMO, and IPv6. The Xiaomi Easy Connect extends support to Android and iOS devices.It’s an all television spectacular this week on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast, as we discuss 8K, screen sizes, QLED and mini-LED panels — and offer some buying advice. Orbital is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.
Apple’s New MacBook Pro Models, AirPods, HomePod mini Colours Show Where the Cupertino Giant Is Heading
Apple has expanded its MacBook Pro lineup this week by introducing new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models. The new MacBook Pros have not just some design-level changes but all-new silicon choices that come in the form of the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips. These new proprietary system-on-chip (SoC) units are designed to take…
Apple has expanded its MacBook Pro lineup this week by introducing new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models. The new MacBook Pros have not just some design-level changes but all-new silicon choices that come in the form of the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips. These new proprietary system-on-chip (SoC) units are designed to take on the likes of AMD and Intel. Alongside the MacBook Pro (2021) models, Apple has brought the AirPods (3rd generation) as its new truly wireless stereo (TWS) earbuds as well as Apple Music Voice plan for those looking to access music through their voice. The company also introduced its new HomePod mini colours.Host Akhil Arora speaks with Reviews Editor Jamshed Avari, Deputy Reviews Editor Roydon Cerejo, and in-house audio expert Ali Pardiwala on this week’s episode of Gadgets 360 podcast Orbital to discuss the new MacBook Pro models, AirPods (3rd Generation), new HomePod mini colours, and the Apple Music Voice plan.The discussion begins with the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips that Apple has designed as two distinct upgrades to its last year’s M1. The new silicon options have 10 CPU cores and up to 32 GPU cores. However, Apple has decided to not detail its new silicon offerings — just like how it typically doesn’t provide much details about its A-series processors powering the iPhone and iPad series.Nevertheless, Apple did claim that its M1 Pro and M1 Max deliver up to 70 percent faster CPU performance than the original M1. The M1 Max is also touted to offer nearly six times the memory bandwidth of the M1, along with up to four times faster GPU performance.M1 Max is claimed to deliver nearly six times the memory bandwidth of last year’s M1 chipPhoto Credit: Apple Apple has packed the memory within its CPU package as a single chip that helps deliver better performance and high power efficiency. There is also a Neural Engine for artificial intelligence (AI) acceleration.In addition to the new chips, we talk about the 16-inch MacBook Pro (2021) and 14-inch MacBook Pro (2021) as a whole. The new machines have upgraded specifications as well as an improved design and additional ports over what we had earlier. You will get an HDMI port and an SDXC card slot.MacBook Pro (2021) price in India begins at Rs. 1,94,900 for the 14-inch variant, while the 16-inch model starts at Rs. 2,39,900.As a distinctive move, the new MacBook Pro models carry a notch — just like the latest iPhone models. The notch helps Apple provide better screen-to-body ratio and pixel count. It is also not as prominently visible as the notch on the iPhone when the MacBook Pros are in use — thanks to the top bar that appears mostly on all apps.The new MacBook Pros also come with mini-LED displays that are expected to help improve the viewing experience. There are also physical function keys on the keyboard as Apple has decided to ditch the Touch Bar.After talking about the new MacBook Pro models, we move to the AirPods (3rd generation) that come as the successor to the AirPods (2nd generation) and look similar to the AirPods Pro. Ali joins the discussion to tell us about the key updates and whether one should go for the new AirPods or continue with the existing model.The AirPods (3rd generation) price in India is set at Rs. 18,900. You can, however, get the AirPods Pro at an even lower price — thanks to the ongoing festive sales.AirPods (3rd generation) price in India is set at Rs. 18,900Photo Credit: Apple We also touch upon the Apple Music Voice plan that is priced at Rs. 49 a month. It is specifically meant for accessing the Apple Music collection via Siri — using your voice. The arrival of the new plan seems more like a marketing gimmick to expand the usage of Siri and project it as a strong competitor against the likes of Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.There are also the new HomePod mini colours, namely Blue, Orange, Space Grey, and Yellow. These are aimed to attract people looking for colourful accessories in their rooms. The HomePod mini price starts at Rs. 9,900.You can listen to the complete discussion by hitting the play button on the embedded player above.If you are new to our site, you can find Orbital on Amazon Music, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Gaana, JioSaavn, Spotify, and wherever you get your podcasts. Don’t forget to follow the Gadgets 360 podcast wherever you’re listening. Please also rate us and leave a review.New Orbital episodes release every Friday, so make sure to tune in each week.