Image: IGDB/Thunder Lotus Games

‘Spiritfarer’ review: a cosy management game about death

“Spiritfarer is a cozy management game about dying” is how Thunder Lotus describes their latest game, and really, this tells you pretty much all you need to know.

Spiritfarer has you play as Stella, a young woman who becomes the newest Spiritfarer – essentially, it is her job to guide lost souls to the Everdoor, so that they may peacefully accept death. What sounds like a gruesome premise is actually made very pleasing by Spiritfarer and its many qualities. 

The game features a gorgeous, hand-drawn art-style where everything pops, especially the fluid animations of the characters. The soundtrack is a very poignant orchestral score which adds emotion to key moments, particularly when a spirit does pass on.

Spiritfarer, despite being about death, is indeed a very cosy game

There are no enemies and no ways to die, as well as no time limits. While death is the subject matter, it never looms over the player, and I found it easy to forget its underlying premise. Spiritfarer, despite being about death, is indeed a very cosy game.

The gameplay consists of you exploring a vast ocean filled with islands and points of interest. There, you’ll find several spirits, all of whom you need to complete tasks for in order to help them accept their deaths. These range from cooking them specific types of foods to building them their own personalised houses. They take residence on your boat, which can be upgraded to allow for exploration to new areas and increased storage space. Essentially, think Stardew Valley meets Wind Waker

Everything is handled from a 2D perspective, involving some minor platforming elements. Fortunately, Stella’s movement is extremely fluid, as by the end of the game, you’ll have several abilities including gliding, higher jumping, and zip-lining, that make movement a dream. There is no time limit for completing quests, meaning you can take your time exploring the world and getting to know the characters.

There were some minor gripes I had with Spiritfarer. On a technical side, the game crashed at one point in my playthrough, and occasionally there was a minor glitch here and there such as a quest not loading, meaning I had to reload my previous save. Thankfully, the game constantly autosaves, so you’ll never lose much progress at all.

When managing your various buildings, you have to fit them all within a given space, which can be upgraded. Each building has a different shape and size, meaning you’ll have to constantly readjust your layout in order to maximise space. However, the problem mainly comes from the fact that you cannot demolish residents’ houses, even when they have passed on, and so sometimes, you have to sacrifice one useful building for another, even when that space could be filled by getting rid of an empty house. Nevertheless, space upgrades do help, so I’d say prioritise those.

I really enjoyed my time with Spiritfarer. It took me roughly 15 hours to ‘beat’ the game, though your playtime could easily be longer if you’re the explorative type and want to find everything. It truly is a “cozy management game about death”, and one I would recommend.

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