Want to learn more about Kena's abilities and upgrades in Kena: Bridge Of Spirits? Early on in Ember Lab's story-driven action-adventure game, you'll learn more about how you can use Karma to upgrade your abilities. Each of these abilities are well worth getting, but some are definitely worth prioritising over others, because they'll help you make quick work of nearly any enemy with some practice.
Below we'll walk you through every ability and upgrade in Kena: Bridge Of Spirits and what each one does, along with how to unlock abilities, how to gain Karma, and how to increase your Rot Level to make use of these new abilities.
Kena: Bridge Of Spirits abilities and upgrades
Aside from her regular light, heavy, and charged melee attacks with her staff, Kena quickly gains access to various powerful abilities to use in combat in Kena: Bridge Of Spirits.
Here are all of Kena's abilities:
- Spirit Bow
- Spirit Bomb
- Spirit Dash
- Stun (Rot Action)
- Rot Hammer (Rot Action)
- Rot Infused Arrow (Rot Action)
- Rot Infused Bomb (Rot Action)
Take a look below at all the abilities and upgrades available to Kena throughout the game.
Your melee attacks are your main form of dealing damage in Kena: Bridge Of Spirits. Light attacks are fast but less damaging, Heavy attacks are slower but more damaging, and you can also hold down a Heavy attack to create a Charged attack which is the slowest but most damaging of all.
The top row of upgrades in the upgrades screen all relate to your melee attack. These upgrades are:
- Sprint Light Attack: While sprinting, press Light Attack to perform a quick sweeping attack.
- Sprint Attack Heavy: While sprinting, press Heavy Attack to perform a powerful overhead attack. Requires Sprint Light Attack.
- Air Slam: While jumping, press Heavy Attack to perform a devastating overhead attack from the air. Requires Sprint Attack Heavy.
- Perfect Charge: Release a Heavy Attack with precise timing to deal massive damage. Requires Rot Level 3.
- Rot Hammer (Rot Action): Hold Heavy Attack and press Rot Action to create a Rot Hammer that can strike from a distance.
Hold down your Pulse button to activate your Shield. This is how you block attacks in Kena: Bridge Of Spirits. Time your Shield block just as the enemy attack lands in order to parry them, leaving them open to a counterattack.
The second row of upgrades relates to your Shield. These upgrades are:
- Parry Counter: Press Light Attack after parrying to perform a spinning attack.
- Shield Health +: The strength of Kena's Shield is enhanced.
- Parry Courage: Gain a Rot Action when you successfully parry an enemy attack. Requires Rot Level 3 and Shield Health +.
- Shield Health ++: The strength of Kena's Shield is enhanced. Requires Rot Level 4 and Parry Courage.
- Enter The Fray: Start combat with 1 Rot Action available.
The Spirit Bow allows you to use your staff as a Bow, firing ranged attacks at enemies without having to resort to melee. This is required not only for solving puzzles and reaching hidden areas filled with Spirit Mail and other collectibles, but also for safely dealing with powerful enemies. Read more about how to unlock the Bow in Kena: Bridge Of Spirits here.
The third row of upgrades relates to your Spirit Bow. These upgrades are:
- Focus: Press Lock On while drawing your Bow to briefly slow time.
- Bind Multishot: When shooting a bound enemy, your arrow will split and damage nearby enemies. Requires Focus.
- Increased Quiver: Kena can fire 5 arrows before the Spirit Bow must recharge.
- Increased Quiver ++: Kena can fire 6 arrows before the Spirit Bow must recharge. Requires Rot Level 3 and Increased Quiver.
- Rot Infused Arrow (Rot Action): Press Rot Action while drawing your bow to create a Rot Infused Arrow. Kena's bow will fire a powerful shot that pierces through enemies.
Spirit Bomb is unlocked for you once you complete Taro's questline and enter the Storehouse. There you'll meet a new character who will teach you how to use your Spirit Bomb to make shimmering rocks float for a short time to solve various puzzles dotted about the game so you can earn more Hats, Gems, and other collectibles. But it's also a potent weapon against enemies.
The fourth row of upgrades relates to your Spirit Bomb. These upgrades are:
- Quickdraw Bomb: Bomb damage is increased if Kena shoots the Bomb before it explodes on its own.
- Multi Bomb: Unlock the ability to create two bombs at one time.
- Rot Infused Bomb (Rot Action): Press Rot Action while holding a Spirit Bomb to form a Rot Infused Bomb. Once detonated, the Rot Bomb slows nearby enemies and projectiles.
Spirit Dash is the final combat ability that you learn in the game, and you're taught how to do it upon completing the questline which takes place primarily in the Fields and the Village Heart areas of the Kena: Bridge Of Spirits map. With this ability, you can pass through barriers into the Spirit Realm, and you can also use it in combat to dodge attacks and stun enemies.
It's also required to corporealise certain spirit enemies that you'll encounter later on in the game, once you reach the "third act" (as I refer to it in our spoiler-free page on how long it takes to beat Kena: Bridge Of Spirits).
There are no upgrades available for Spirit Dash.
How to upgrade your abilities in Kena: Bridge Of Spirits
Shortly after completing the tutorial and entering the Village, you'll be introduced to the abilities and upgrades screen of Kena: Bridge Of Spirits. It is here that you can spend the Karma that you earn throughout your travels, unlocking various upgrades to your abilities.
Karma can be collected by performing various actions in the world, from feeding your Rot with fruits of the forest and righting fallen statues to completing larger puzzles and story beats.
Certain ability upgrades require you to reach a certain Rot Level first. You increase your Rot Level by collecting more Rot. You'll increase your Rot Level once you reach the following thresholds: 5, 15, 35, 65, and finally 100. Increasing your Rot Level also increases the number of Rot Actions you can queue up and use together in combat.
The upgrades screen is divided into four rows, with each row focusing on a different part of Kena's ability toolkit. There's also a column at the end which is filled with four powerful upgrades which in most cases unlock a new Rot Action variant of that ability.
Best Kena: Bridge Of Spirits upgrades to unlock first
Playing on the higher difficulty levels in Kena requires you to think more carefully about the order in which you unlock these upgrades. I'd first suggest unlocking Enter The Fray, because starting every fight with a Rot Action already available makes an enormous difference, allowing you to start with a stun that leaves dangerous enemies vulnerable early on.
Since Rot Actions are so powerful, if you're good at parrying I'd strongly suggest you also pick up Parry Courage as early as possible, so that each time you parry you gain a new Rot Action which you can use to deal devastating damage while the enemy is still reeling.
For more general attacks, Sprint Attack Heavy is a strong attack which you can abuse to kill groups of smaller enemies very quickly. This is important when it comes to the more difficult Cursed Chests which require you to defeat all enemies within a certain time limit.
Increased Quiver and Increased Quiver ++ are both extremely useful upgrades too. Each one simply gives you one more arrow to use before you must wait for your Spirit Bow to recharge. This is useful not only for combat but also for solving puzzles and traversing the environment. Having extra arrows gives you a bit of a safety net in case you miss your first shots.
The Rot Infused Arrow is probably my favourite use for Rot Actions in the game. Not only does it deal tonnes of damage but it looks cinematic as hell, and you can line up enemies and hit them all at once, making it an exceptional crowd control tool as well.
Finally, the Rot Infused Bomb is another tremendously powerful upgrade which creates a large bubble around the explosion point, completely rooting all enemies inside for a short time. It's like the effect of using a Rot Action to distract an enemy, except with even more damage and utility. Very strong against clusters of enemies and more dangerous single enemies such as bosses.
That's all we've got to say on the various abilities and upgrade unlocks in Kena: Bridge Of Spirits. Hopefully the above will help when it comes to understanding Kena's potential in combat and the best path through the skill tree, which is particularly important for dealing with certain troublesome boss fights. For more general wisdom on the game check out our collection of Kena: Bridge Of Spirits tips and tricks for newer players. Alternatively, if you're a completionist, you may wish to consult our list of Kena: Bridge Of Spirits achievements.