In engaging with the story’s opaque and contradictory surfaces, one may flail about, tentatively reaching for this or that hypothesis. But if the game wants to get nuts, let’s get nuts. Maybe Ariane is somehow adrift in her own dream, in which her subconscious is drawing from the tyranny of the Eusan regime and from Ariane’s personal torments, which are adumbrated in notes and cutscenes. Elster may be a dreamed-up figment after all, a conduit for Ariane’s vague psychic baggage, whereas Ariane may herself be subject to the dreams of a less discernible entity (“the red eye beyond the gate”). In any event, Elster and Ariane seem to be searching for each other, and for some mystical escape hatch — a means of jettisoning their dismal surroundings. They do not wish to die, but they long to see beyond the veil, and to answer at last some dimly perceived wake-up call.
“Kena” isn’t especially inventive, but the game is an entertaining hodgepodge of tried-and-true ideas. A sense of deja vu certainly emerges. But one scarcely notices it during the brisk battles or amid the splendors and astonishments of the enveloping forests.