Spiritfarer, created by Thunder Lotus Games, released on Steam, Switch, PS4, and Xbox One simultaneously on August 18th, 2020. You play as Stella, a ferrymaster to the deceased, along with your cat companion Daffodil. Build rooms for your spirit guests and fulfill their final wishes before guiding them to the beyond. My review bellow is from the Nintendo Switch version in cooperative mode.
A Game About Moving On
Going into this game I was already fully aware of the premise but I still wasn’t prepared for just how heart-wrenching it was. You, and everyone you meet, are dead and have some unfinished business that needs addressing so they can come to terms with their afterlife. The main characters will become animals that reflect their personalities once upon your boat. Each one has a story to tell with different likes and dislikes which makes it all the harder to say goodbye when they’re ready to move on to the Everdoor.
Interacting With Your Spirit Animals
There are several ways to interact with your passengers: giving them specific gifts when requested, giving them daily hugs, feeding them their favorite dishes when hungry, and speaking with them. All these things contribute to their moods. When their needs are met, you get bonuses (gifts) from them. If you have a second player with you, they can do all of those things as well, save for the speaking. Because they’re a cat.
Build Homes, Build Crafting Rooms
First thing you usually want to do with your guests, is to create a home for them to sleep in. Then, you have to furnish that home with items that they like. This will take building materials that you can find while exploring different islands. Some of those materials will even need more refining with your crafting rooms such as the foundry, the smithy, the mill, etc.
Raising Livestock, Crops, and Cooking
I definitely enjoyed creating different recipes in my kitchen and figuring out what “tastes” each guest preferred. I also wasn’t expecting to have a barn for cows and a coop for chickens onboard my boat! Furthermore, you don’t have to feed them unless you want their resources so that’s a plus! Just watch out for the sheep, those jerks will eat your crops if left unfed and on the loose!
Uncovering Islands on Your Map
To get to the islands scattered around the seas, you have to set a course on your map and uncover locations. Boating takes actual time so you want to make sure you’re going somewhere while you attend to your chores so the wait doesn’t seem as long. I say this also because I was so focused on doing things just on the boat, that I burned myself out very quickly before finishing the game. I’m super grateful, however, that my kitty partner shared in those tasks! Although, fishing is a great way to unwind.
While getting to your destinations, you’ll come across shipwrecks for treasure, special storms for mini-games, dragons for ore, turtles to plant more materials! This is also more fun when you don’t make special trips just for these things. Later on, you’ll have access to a method of fast-travel thanks to a good boy but it can still take time to reach areas.
Shops, Shipyard, Islands
The islands are either places to mine for ore or to chop some trees, or it’s a town with people and a shop owned by a certain greedy raccoon/tanuki. I see you, Animal Crossing reference. You can buy seeds to plant, food ingredients, and more so make sure to check what’s available.
By selling cooked dishes, raw materials, treasure, and so on, you can eventually buy upgrades for your boat. These upgrades include new blueprints for rooms, the size and speed of your boat, as well as very important add-ons to be able to reach new areas. To get the latter, you’ll also need to say goodbye to some friends to get their spirit flowers.
Shrines for New Abilities
Once you welcome guests on your ship, they’ll give you one Obol (soul). Two Obols are needed for special shrines as payment for new abilities for Stella and Daffodil. These abilities are needed while exploring certain areas such as gliding in air currents, and riding ziplines.
I had a surprisingly difficult time utilizing any of my abilities due to poor control response. The screen was also never able to keep up with me so I found myself pushing the edges and losing site of where I was going. It’s especially hard when Daffodil is super slow in single-player or super fast in local co-op. Meaning, no matter what it was hard to frame both characters doing stunts.
Another downside is the amount of crashes I got but hopefully that will change in future updates. My last complaint is that every single move was so slow due to long animations. Coupled with some tedious tasks like singing to your crops, the gameplay can stretch on a bit. That’s not to say the art style and animations were anything but breathtakingly beautiful and adorable (the best hugs in gaming), just know to be patient.
By the end of the game, especially when I saw that the characters were based off of actual loved ones in the credits, I was in tears! We all must learn to say farewell, but it’s never easy! I got so attached! Like in real life, each character had different ways of dealing with their passing. But I’m glad I played a part in helping these spirits go without big regrets. That may sound depressing, but this delicate subject is handled with great tenderness and care, with lots of uplifting moments.
- Having a second character play as the cat.
- The beautiful, emotional premise.
- Crafting unique rooms on a boat.
- Slow control response and long character animations.
- Waiting so long to reach destinations (even with upgrades and fast-travel).
- Waiting for materials to respawn on islands.