I was introduced to Spiritfarer by my brother, who purchased the game for me because he wanted to have someone to talk to about it. Playing this game was a very unique experience; it’s at times very cute and funny and at other times extremely poignant and emotional.
In Spiritfarer you play as Stella, a young woman who has taken over the position of Spiritfarer from Charon (yes, the Charon from Greek mythology). It is now your responsibility to sail through the spirit world, finding spirits and coaxing them through accepting the end of their life. Depending on the spirit, this might involve helping them to face their most painful memories and regrets or allowing them to experience new things that they never got a chance to do while they were alive or completing a series of strange challenges until they’re finally satisfied. Then, once they’re ready, you guide the spirit to the Everdoor, a type of mystical gateway where you bid them a final fond farewell before sending them off to whatever awaits spirits who have passed on.
- A Beautiful Story
This is a game about loss and accepting the inevitability of death, so it understandably stirred up a lot of intense feelings in me. The spirits that board Stella’s boat are all very different and the ways that they come to terms with the end of their lives varies depending on their individual personalities; some are at peace with it, while others are simply resigned. No character’s experience with death is the same, but all of their stories were moving, in their own way, though some hit me much harder then others. One character’s final moments left me in tears because it reminded me of the passing of someone in my own life and I sobbed during another scene, not because I had any personal connection to that character’s journey, but because their final words were simply that touching. There’s a kind of catharsis to giving these characters one final hug before they disappear in a burst of light to whatever awaits them after this. It’s sad, but also beautiful. I also found the ending to Spiritfarer to be especially moving, in large part because it’s so simple. I won’t spoil it, but it was a very effective note to end off on that perfectly wrapped up the Spiritfarer experience.
2. Charming Graphics
Despite dealing with a serious and somewhat grim topic, Spiritfarer is an adorable-looking game. The spirits you bring aboard your boat all appear as cute animals and the graphics of Stella running around, leaping joyfully through the air and doling out comforting hugs, warmed my heart.
3. Engaging Game Play
Spiritfarer includes some platforming, but the main gameplay elements are collecting and crafting. When you’re not taking care of the spirits, you tour around the Spirt World, collecting different materials and using them to upgrade your boat or add buildings for your spirit friends to hang out in. Collecting is a game mechanic that I personally really enjoy, so I had a great time unlocking new outfits for Stella and finding everything I needed to fully upgrade my boat. There were also a number of side-quests that were pretty amusing, especially the one where I delivered several questionable shipments of fruit to a shady juice stand, which eventually got shut down by the authorities. I loved exploring the world of Spiritfarer and I’m excited that there is some DLC coming out later this year and that I’ll have the opportunity to play this game even more.
- Jump in Platforming Difficulty
This is more of a personal complaint then something that I would consider to be an objective flaw in the game, but I found that there was an annoying jump in the difficulty of the platforming aspect towards the end of the story. Now, I must admit that I am not good at platforming in general. I don’t have a lot of experience with playing those kinds of games and I’m not particularly dexterous when it comes to timing my jumps or navigating my character around so that they don’t fall off of cliffs.
Despite this, I didn’t really have much trouble with the gameplay during the majority of the game. The platforming was kept pretty simple and easy at the start and new elements were added in, bit by bit, so I had a chance to get used to them. There were a few areas that proved to be beyond my skill level, but traversing these more difficult sections isn’t important for advancing the story and it’s only required if you want to get all of the items. Then I got to the later part of the game and one of the final spirits gives you a series of challenges that suddenly require some actual platforming skills and you need to complete these challenges if you want to finish this character’s storyline. You can technically finish the game without sending all of the spirits through the Everdoor, but I wanted to see all of the story, so I had to spend a not insignificant amount of time trying and re-trying these challenges. I was able to eventually get through this part of the game, so I imagine that most gamers, especially those who are more used to platforming, will have much less trouble with it then I did, but it was still frustrating for me.
Spiritfarer is a beautiful piece of art and one of the most memorable games I’ve ever played. I’m so grateful to my brother for introducing it to me and it’s my sincere hope that everyone reading this will give it a try. Just make sure that you have some tissues handy.
Final Score: 9.5 out of 10
What did you think of this game? Who was your favourite spirit? Was there any send-off in particular that really got to you? Let me know in the comments! The end of Alice’s storyline was the one that really hit me hard.
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