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You play as Stella who has just taken over for Charon as the new Spiritfarer. Your job is to ferry the souls of the recently deceased to their afterlife but only once they are ready. The souls you pick up all have some kind of unfinished business which you’ll slowly learn about as they open up to you.
There’s a wide variety of personalities and situations among these souls. Each one is unique, and I was often surprised at the direction their stories took. Just because things seem one way, doesn’t mean they are. Be prepared for some tough topics such as dementia, illness, physical and mental disability, thoughts of suicide, and of course, lots of death.
I teared up in several places, and by the end I was a blubbering mess. The storytelling in Spiritfarer is topnotch.
Spiritfarer is gorgeous. It’s hand drawn and soft and dreamy. Each of the souls has a unique character design that was simple, yet suited them perfectly. The regular NPCs all use the same character model, but have a few different colors and shapes and sizes. But the ones that come aboard transform into various animals representative of their personalities.
I also just loved that Stella has brown skin. We definitely need more WOC in video games!
Sound Effects + Music:
The music in Spiritfarer is very dreamy. It’s soothing and calm and fits this atmosphere perfectly. It does switch up when the situation calls for it. For example, you get a more high speed, adrenaline pumping tune during the various storms. And each of the spirits has their own theme song which plays when you speak with them.
I didn’t like the music that plays for a couple of the NPCs you meet while sailing. Especially when night time hit and you’re stuck with it until morning. I wish it had just played when you first pull up to them and when you leave, rather than the entire night. For Alex, it seems that the game developers knew the music was annoying because you can ask them to turn it off, and they’ll “put on headphones.” Nice.
Gameplay + Controls:
Spiritfarer is a management game at its core. You’ll be taking care of spirits on your ship and will need to complete tasks for them. You’ll need to collect resources, craft, cook, build, and use your time wisely. Actually, time moves slowly enough that you should never feel rushed. The only time of day that really matters is late night, because you can’t sail. This is when I did the majority of chores around the ship like watering crops and smelting ingots.
I really liked the crafting system in Spiritfarer. It’s active rather than passive. After you get the base materials, you use specific buildings to process them. But instead of just dropping off the material (as with cooking), you’ll have different controls to follow. For example, with the forge, you’ll have to use the bellows to raise the temperature to the range for whatever metal you’re smelting, and then keep it there until the ingots are done.
There was only one part of the game where I had no clue what to do and resulted to just pushing all the buttons until something happened. That worked! But then I knew for the future. After dropping off certain spirits at the Everdoor, you’ll appear in a short platforming area that plays scenes from the spirit’s life. There’s just no instruction on how to progress. Spoiler: play your guitar to the butterflies. Easy.
Spiritfarer is a lovely game, but for me, it’s a one time experience. I went on this 38 hour journey to get to know all of these characters and help them move on. There’s nothing that would change by starting over. The quests would be the same. The spirits would be the same. And I don’t think it would have the same emotional impact on subsequent playthroughs.
I do need just one achievement, since at one point in the story you have to make a choice, getting an achievement for each of the two options. Maybe someday.
I absolutely loved Spiritfarer. I 100% recommend it to anyone who likes quest driven games or emotional narratives. It actually has a little bit of everything for everyone, and is really something special.