Spiritfarer by Thunder Lotus Games
Spiritfarer is a heart-warming adventure game about death, memories, relationships and gentle exploration. Combining light platforming, resource management, a variety of mini-games and a genuinely touching story full of endearing characters, Spiritfarer strives to provide a relaxing and bittersweet story with an entirely unique tone.
Get on Board
There is no clunky tutorial in Spiritfarer. Instead, it drops you straight into the story; Charon, the ferryman, is passing on and handing over his burden to the protagonist, Stella. It was the task of Charon to guide the spirits of the deceased to the next world on his ship, and now Stella must take on the role.
It soon becomes apparent that this is not as simple as carting the souls of the deceased like so much cargo. Instead, the spirits have wants, needs and unfinished business. They are in no rush to move on.
While there is no tutorial, Spiritfarer does set a gentle pace and introduce new aspects of its world slowly. Each new mechanic or challenge is presented by one of your passengers.
I found this particularly charming, and the varied characters manage to infuse just about every part of the game with enthusiasm. Each is passionate about the things they care about and so manage to make every new task seem important.
Maintenance and Hospitality
Stella’s day-to-day tasks are split between three primary goals: navigating the seas, upgrading her ship and attending to the needs of the passengers.
Each of these tasks feeds into the others; resources need to be gathered for ship upgrades and different foods must be found or grown to keep the spirits happy.
To my enduring delight, adorably animated hugs are an essential part of keeping passengers in a good mood.
The boat itself can be upgraded to provide more real estate to house different buildings. These range from places for guests to relax to workshops, looms, gardens and more. Every room has a role and each can be moved to provide a different structure to the overall boat.
In addition to the management and exploration components of Spiritfarer, there are plenty of superb minigames. Perhaps the most commonly used of these is a simple fishing game that can provide a pleasant way to fill the time on voyages when there’s nothing else to do.
As time went on, however, I found that there was less and less time for fishing during my journeys; there were so many other activities to get stuck into instead. From weaving fabric on the loom to cutting logs or watering crops, Spiritfarer is full of relaxing tasks to undertake, and that’s when the guests aren’t asking for a favor or in need of a snack.
See You Safe to Harbor, Nevermore to Roam
The visuals of Spiritfarer are absolutely jaw-dropping. The animations are detailed, charming and endearing; every little action is lovingly crafted, whether it be casting a fishing line or cuddling with Stella’s cat, Daffodil.
The scenery, meanwhile, is nothing short of beautiful. This is all backed up with some relaxing music that helps to make this a wholesome title that always manages to draw a smile.
Spiritfarer is a wonderful game to unwind with; it provides hours of exploration and warm character interactions. It is also at times moving, bittersweet and melancholic, all of which contributes to its charm.
If I were to describe it in a sentence, I’d call it Spirited Away on the high seas and if that isn’t enough to recommend it, I’m not sure what would be.
Spiritfarer is the game 2020 didn’t know it needed.
Spiritfarer is available via the Nintendo Game Store, Sony PlayStation Store, Microsoft Store and Steam.
Check out the official trailer for Spiritfarer below: