Ten Emotional Hours In: Part 1 – Spiritfarer

I don’t even know why I played this game up until this point.

I screwed up.

Death is something that humans, more specifically me, will never understand. It is scary and unavoidable. I refuse to talk about it.

That person is just not here anymore.

Anyway, I really wanted to tackle this game and I was met with many distractions: Like taking care of my dad’s cat for a few days, work  and an assumption that the game is actually longer than I could ever have imagined. I take care of animals that are also people, tear up (so far) upwards of seven times and I’m positive that Charon is breaking a whole bunch of laws by hiring a child to continue his work.

This week I will talk about Spiritfarer.

Spiritfarer is a 2-D, management style game developed and published by one of my favorite studios, Thunder Lotus Games. The game is currently available on a majority of platforms and is priced at $30.

Charon (the boatmen of the river Styx) has decided that it is his time to retire and it is up to our main character Stella and her cat Daffodil to continue his work. He informs you that you will need a boat and fulfill any of the wishes of the denizens so that they too can move on.

Stella is at the whim of the spirits of the boat, so Stella essentially waits on them hand-and-foot.

That is when the management comes into play.

Stella can literally do everything. She can build homes, cook some of the best looking food I have EVER seen, smelt metals, garden, ETC. There is a lot to do when the boat is filled to the brim with spirits that need to be pampered. Each morning Stella wakes up, rings the morning bell and begins the day with a plethora of activities to attend to. Spirits need to be fed, housed and to be appreciated and in return share stories of when they were alive. The stories that they tell feel real. They are scenarios that people have dealt with, for instance: Atul left his family early from some sort of health complication, Alice has Alzheimer’s and Summer had to deal with the struggles of losing the love of her life. It’s all too real and I got lost in the stories they told. 

This is where the story depth enters.

Each character offers Stella, on occasion, a glimpse into their world. Each of the worlds are filled to the brim with awesome storytelling. For instance, the first spirit Stella interacts with, Gwen, spent her entire life being the rebellious type after her father left her and her mother. Gwen is only one character, out of, I think, eleven. They all have something to say, in due time, and when they speak to you about their lives it is important to listen.

There are so many more interesting characters with their own in-depth storylines that are 100% worth being a part of.

The hardest part is always saying goodbye, because well it is quite final. Characters usually have a sort of monologue as they approach the Everdoor. So far, they explain to the player that the actions they took while they were alive were justified but at the end of it all renounce the things they regret. They then glimmer, rise to the door and after an exceptional explosion, are gone forever.

Controls are nothing short of completely simple. You move with the analog stick (WASD) and interact with whatever button it is on controllers (Enter on keyboard).

Spiritfarer is a game that relies on the player’s own pace when dishing out upgrades. Spirits that move on leave a valuable resource that is integral to accessing certain areas and upgrades within the game. Upgrades come extremely quick and before you know it you actually have cruise ship length and can house as many as The Ark.

To be able to actually create this ship and all of the possible buildings, you will need resources and there is a chart house of sorts within Stella’s room that takes her anywhere she pleases with a simple nod to the icon on the map. The ship then sails to the destination allowing Stella to complete any tasks. Each island and event reward Stella with resources that she can then use to construct new buildings and homes for her stowaways.

As stated above, Stella can do just about anything, BUT that doesn’t mean she has access to the specific resource engines. It is up to the spirits that you pick up to give you access to the shops or events that are central to creating certain resources. Gwen supplies the kitchen and the loom, where cloth and more can be made into fabric and Atul offers to help construct the sawmill.

The music is incredible. The main theme evokes so much emotion from me and it is played so well, and has so many different variations throughout my time playing the game. It ramps up when the action gets going, it slows when there is a moment of emotion. I will always remember the theme from this game.

Spiritfarer is my favorite game of 2020 and 2021. it is so masterfully crafted from the water color art style of the world to the characters that inhabit it. Everything has so much love and care put into it that I cannot dislike a single aspect of the game. No matter what character it was, I always wept. It is a sad, comfortable game and I am glad that I get to continue to play and talk about the game this next week.

It does what it was intended to do and it does it very well.

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