Spiritfarer - Spiritual Rejuvenation (Game Review)
Publisher: Thunder Lotus
Developer: Thunder Lotus
Platform: XB1, PC, PS4, Switch, Linux, Mac
Genre: Construction and Management Simulation
There's a lot I want to say, but I believe taking few key aspects on the subject matter of life, death, and beyond should do. While Spiritfarer seems timid, humble, sincere and wholesome, there's a whole lot to pick under its surface. This kind of game that has a large impact for most sentimental types, nothing derogatory about that at all.
Spiritfarer isn't entirely a unique game besides its premise, it's a simple management game with quests to do and a story to follow. The whole process of both of these working together cohesively is brimming with this deep sense of serenity as well as fulfillment.
While it does drag a bit, Spiritfarer has a lot to say, while patience being a virtue is also often rewarded through most of the playthrough. It's not a perfect game yet it delivers much finesse on both its gameplay and storytelling. The impact it leaves stay for a lot longer than you would think, as it did onto me.
Right at the beginning, you play as the new ferry, replacing the old one who has seemingly decided to retire maybe due to aging and maybe to invest his pension fund somewhere else. You play as Stella, with her cat Dandelion. Together, you two work to help other spirits including some of her friends in the in-between before they are carried off into the afterlife. As the ferry, your job is to help these lost spirits find comfort, confront their biggest inner conflicts and fears before they accept their fate into the Everdoor.
Seems pretty simple, the journey however as bit long and arduous puts you in lot of perspectives of people's lives, how they try to life at their finest hours even among different and terrible circumstances that acts against them. One character that makes this poignant enough is Gwen, your close friend from her(and yours) former life. She is the first spirit you come to ferry and even though she seems distant and bit cold at first, she eventually grows on you as she rekindles her friendship and opens up about her problems with family and friends. Was never explained how she departed but she is tasked at helping you out first, learn the ropes before you go returning the favor. Same somewhat applies to other spirits but their personalities and demands are more different from each other as you go along.
For me personally, some of this stuff had hit home. Because I too was dealing with grief after one of my cousins passed away few months ago due to Covid-19. Realizing that I never will able to reconnect with her, this game has put me a serene yet forward tale of finality. Of finding ways to deal with things passing away in life and finding ways to accept fate and thus accept newer things or grieving in peace. I still feel sad but maybe for once I found a sense of closure and maybe was close to accepting it as a whole.
This is a lighthearted game but it tackles very heavy and sensitive subject matters and it does so brilliantly that you're doing menial chores without feeling even little vexation because you're still doing such a humble job helping spirits cope in this weird dream like world occupied with needs stemming from the modern world.
Playing as Stella, you get to do things that don't involve blasting with any lethal sort of weapon, rather your job is to talk with other spirits, do their requests for them and in return you get rewards. You also collect, farm, weave, cut tree trunks, etc. Basically, a lot of menial tasks but done in brisk once you get the hang of them. You explore the oceans with your large boat full of housings.
Now your boat can do only so much, as long as you keep upgrading it which requires that you collect certain resources for it. Although, you can't get these stuff at first and foremost since you need to progress through the story. Again, resource collecting by going to various towns or islands takes not long, this game allows you access to most of it after the 12-15hr mark. While you're at it, building newer complex around your seminal boat to do create newer supply of materials while creating farmhouses for growing plants and linens. A lot of menial stuff, but really, it adds to the feeling of being fulfilling, helping out the cause even though you're doing chores for people. But yeah it has two or more ways of going about it, context-wise.
While you are the captain of the ship, a lot of crew mates are treated like guests as you serve them food and help grant their requests. You also get to know more of them as you go along, they also help out by mending the structures or helping to grow out the plantations with music. Yes, music helps grows plants. Along the way, they introduce you to new abilities like double jumping or gliding. Which you will need later to access some parts of the places you've visited prior that was locked out. They cost around 1 Obol, each you get once a Passenger has boarded your ship and you get one again right after they're done and want to move towards the afterlife.
Sometimes, you'll even to mine by turning your orb into a pickaxe for mining among other things. But yeah, resource gathering and such.
So to put it in summary, you take spirits, you do stuff for them, you help them get accommodated on the boat, they give you stuff, you listen to their story and bid heartfelt goodbye while getting hooked to the simulation gameplay. I haven't felt this addicted to something as this since the Sims series or Stardew Valley. Like, you can go the extra mileage with this if you want to even if by design you can finish the game in around 20hrs or so.
Also, hugs. Yes, hugging someone is the best medicinal remedy for your inner turmoils. As humble as this game can be, it also has its funny moments along with the charm. Just good stuff, there's not much to complain about honestly.
Yes, this has co-op. Though, only for 1 screen. 1 player plays Stella while the other gets to play Dandelion(the cat), this is more like a neat addition to the game.
While it does affect the flow of the game, you know if your friend somewhat screws around. But it's in good design and doesn't compromise the gameplay on its entirety.
So, the artstyle reminds me quite a bit like Banner Saga except less somber and more loosy goosey. Also, the art design and animation feels like something pretty akin to Chuck Jones version of Tom & Jerry. Not gonna lie, that was quite a treat and it made me feel like playing this game even more. Not only the nostalgia but the perfect color saturation, the colorbook sketching, fluid animation and so on works so seamlessly.
I like it where games that aren't AAA try not so hard to put audio that people who can afford hi-definition surround sound systems could afford to hear and immerse themselves in. Like this game has everything you need to hear even with the cheapest headphones you'd use. Both the audio and music is phenomenal. The sound design itself carries a lot of charm while the music soothingly evokes you into different themes.
This game does have few bugs, small stuff. Nothing that can't be fixed but besides these, there isn't much of an issue I've faced so far. Everything runs spectacularly fine.
I never felt so wholesome playing a game such as this, yet am glad. Though I've played wholesome games before, not something like this. No this was kind of unique. It was its own thing. Everything you do, almost every of it is the core essential of the experience. It makes it all feel worth it.
You should totally get this game.