Spiritfarer is a cozy management game about dying. You play Stella, ferrymaster to the deceased, a Spiritfarer. Build a boat to explore the world, then befriend and care for spirits before finally releasing them into the afterlife. Farm, mine, fish, harvest, cook, and craft your way across mystical seas. Join the adventure as Daffodil the cat, in two-player cooperative play. Spend relaxing quality time with your spirit passengers, create lasting memories, and, ultimately, learn how to say goodbye to your cherished friends. What will you leave behind?
Video games have always made the topic of death a visible subject. Player kill things consistently in games, players try to avoid death in games, players are familiar with a very macabre view of death in a majority of the products put out in the video game medium.
Spiritfarer on the other hand, seems to be on a much different campaign about death. Spiritfarer attempts to tell players, through its cozy management style game play and comforting narrative, that death – though hard to do- should be accepted and *celebrated*
In a nutshell, you play a young girl named Stella. Stella is a ferrymaster, her job is pretty is deceptively simple yet complicated; Stella is suppose to ferry souls into the after life…but only *after* they have come to terms that they are dying (or dead) and need to move into the after life. The spirit Stella is caring for, are spirits that need to move on but for whatever reason can not. They have some last remaining hang ups about life and need it resolved before moving on. Stella, in order to ferry people into the after life, needs to help them find resolution before sending them into the after life
Dont misinterpret, Spiritfarer’s narrative is NOT saying death is painless- death, loosing someone, can be one of the most devastating things a person can go through; but Spiritfarer gently reminds the audience that death is part of the natural cycle of life, instead of fearing it, embrace it and celebrate the life that was lived.
Needless to say, Spiritfarer’s story is top grade and is a refreshing take on death, particularly in a media market that tells it’s audience to fear or become desensitized to death. Its gentle and comforting, but treats its subject matter with respect- and most importantly, does not dummy down the subject of death to make it so easy to digest that the audience doesn’t realize the levity of the subject. Spiritfarer makes the audience think and feel, and does an excellent job of crafting an important life message that everyone needs helps coming to terms with. Not an easy task, but Spiritfarer rises to the occasion wonderfully.
In terms of game play Spiritfarer is a simple management style game. There is an over arcing objective (get your dead friends over to the after life, with their consent of course) but there are plenty of side missions that feed into that over arcing plot. Stella needs to help her friends come to terms with their death, in the demo, that means Summer (her snake friend) is ready to pass into the after life but first needs to retrieve a trinket of personal importance when she was alive. While on the voyage to retrieve the trinket, Stella does mini management games- like fishing, gardening, character interactions, etc- that provide items to craft, cook, more complex items. All these mini games are essentially farming/grinding out materials that help work towards an end goal;catch enough fish and you might get a character encounter that helps move the plot line, start a garden to help one of your friends feel comfortable while on the ferry, thus helping them accept that they need to move on. The mini games are there and designed to help move the over arcing plot forward, not be a tedious chore.
The small tasks of fishing, gardening, catching lightening, etc are fun and simple- enough where players get enjoyment from doing the task, but not feel the boredom or pressure of a hard grind. Spiritfarer’s game play was designed in mind to be a light game that players can relax to not feel like it was a second job after a long hard day of being an adult.
Frankly, Spiritfarer’s game play is very much welcome in my catalog of games. I love that I can be engaged with the game, but not have consequences if life gets in the way and I couldn’t have Stella fish for a few days. the player experience is intended for you to relax and enjoy, and that comes off very clearly as you run around the ferry doing fun little mini games and talking with all the other characters.
That being said, Spiritfarer’s mechanics are simple and fluid- I did not come across any weird errors or difficulties when playing the demo. The game play is straight forward, visual cues are easy to pick up on, and instructions are clear. Players will never wonder exactly what to do or why they’re doing it. Spiritfarer plays smooth as silk- right down to its building mechanic, character control, character/environment and interaction, and mini game functionality. Solid game control development for a solid story line.
Spiritfarer’s visual style speaks for itself; its colorful and vibrant, but not obnoxiously loud. The color palettes are clean and convey the the mood that is happening in the story. The graphics are a charming 2D animation that lends to the cozy environment and game play that the devs were aiming for- it’s easy on the eyes and gamers will find the animation a fitting artistic style for the world they are about to take a magical journey in. After spending time with the Spiritfarer demo, I dont think I would like to see this game in any other artistic format, the 2d animation provides a key element and feeling within the audience: comfort. And the comforting feeling is important when you’re dealing with such a heavy topic such as death.
I cant give Spiritfarer enough praise and anxiously await it’s full release. If you’re at Pax West I highly recommend that you check out the game over in the Indie corner, it will be sure to give you a lasting, positive, impression