Spiritfarer: A Bittersweet Adventure to the Afterlife

A game I’ve had on my list for the past several months, Spiritfarer, released a few days ago. Its release was announced at the Nintendo Indie World Presentation for later that day, and I downloaded it as soon as it was available. Spiritfarer touts itself as a cozy management game that deals with death, so it immediately appealed to me. I’ve become a huge fan of management type games with farming and resource gathering elements, as well as exploration games, and this game’s got both. It’s also got some stunning hand drawn art and gorgeous animations.

The old Spiritfarer, Charon, is retiring, and you (Stella – along with your cat, Daffodil) are taking up the mantle. Your job is to guide spirits to the afterlife. Before departing, the Spiritfarer gives you the everlight, which acts as a power source for your boat, and transforms into whatever tool you need from fishing rod to watering can, oven mitts, oars, and many more.

If you’ve ever played a game with lots of sailing, but wished you could do more on your actual boat, this game is perfect for you. As you travel the world finding spirits and resources, your boat is your home base, and well as home to all spirits you find. You’ll build each spirit their own place and keep them happy by fulfilling their requests, feeding them their favorite foods, and giving them lots of hugs. Eventually, when they’re ready, they’ll ask you to take them to the Everdoor, the place where they make their final departure into the afterlife.

Not every spirit is particularly likable, but each has a distinct personality and story, and you still develop relationships with each, making every departure a bittersweet moment. Did I cry? Yes, I cried.

In the background, Stella is also dealing with her own final journey after her death. Some of the spirits she finds are loved ones, including the first, her best friend Gwen. Stella will eventually have to make her own way to the Everdoor, but not before helping the other spirits find peace.

You’ll also spend the game upgrading your boat and gaining new powers so you can traverse more of the world.

Spiritfarer is sprinkled with little references and great little bits of humor, and it and pokes fun at certain video game conventions, including 100%ing a game (which the game still rewards you for). One optional portion of the game includes a little D&D campaign.

Some might find some of the gameplay elements a little repetitive, particularly crafting and farming, but I never felt you had to spend too much time on any one thing (especially if you don’t speed through the game like I do). These things are meant to be activities you spend just a little time on while traveling between islands, and at night when it’s too dark to navigate.

Overall, it was a captivating, emotional game with a lot of my favorite video game elements, and plenty of satisfying hugs. I recommend it to anyone looking for a heartfelt game with exploration, relationship building, and lots of gathering and crafting.

When dusk hits, these lanterns gradually light up the town

Spiritfarer is one of the best games I’ve played this year, and I look forward to playing it again one day, and to any future games from developer Thunderlotus.

Not everyone’s up for a hug all the time, but Daffodil is!

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