Spiritfarer is sure to pull at your heartstrings as you help spirits pass to the other side.
Spiritfarer is a beautiful game by Thunder Lotus Games with a touching story that had me in tears while playing. It flows naturally with its relaxing and casual gameplay, never rushing you to get through to the end. I’ll try to keep spoilers to a minimum as this is a game you need to play through and experience yourself to get the real feel for it, and if you do, I promise that you will not be disappointed.
I’m a person that easily falls in love with pretty looking games, and Spiritfarer is very, very pretty.
Everything is beautifully drawn, especially the characters you meet on your journey as Stella and her cat Daffodil – who a friend can play as in local co-op, or Share Play as I did. [Editor: Congratulations, Megan, on being the only person to ever mention Share Play in any of our 900+ reviews! We all forgot it existed…]
As your main goal is to help these adorable ghosts by cooking them food, running their errands, or building them a place to stay on your boat, you’re going to get extremely attached to the people you meet.
The best feature about gently riding the waves of the spirit realm is getting the chance to give these characters warm hugs whenever you feel like it. It’s a massive mood booster both for the spirits you are trying to help and yourself as a player because sometimes we all just need a hug, right?
You’ll slowly begin to unveil the past of these characters such as how they lived and how they died. I learnt some valuable lessons while playing, as many of the characters are connected to Stella in some way. This makes the story of Spiritfarer that much deeper and intriguing to explore.
Eventually, these spirits will ask Stella to help them move on completely. By now I was invested in many of the characters and I didn’t want to see them leave. That’s another lesson I learnt- being able to let go of the ones you love when the time finally comes. There I was countless times sobbing as I read the final dialogue of a spirit that was finally ready to go as I gave them their final hug.
Enough of the soppy stuff – you want to know about the gameplay. It’s not all talking and hugging ghosts in Spiritfarer; you’ll need to grow, craft and explore to find the materials you need to fulfil the last requests of your spirit friends.
Idly growing plants like carrots and cabbage while I was travelling between the countless islands added to the relaxing vibe of Spiritfarer. As I progressed further, this then developed into using sawmills and foundry’s to create planks and ingots – I felt less like the ferryman that helps you cross the river of death and more like a greedy factory owner hoarding gold ingots for the next upgrade.
Where Spiritfarer excelled was with its mini-games. As you travel around (and depending on who you have met) exciting activities will be unlocked. These are other ways to get the materials you need. As you enter these areas the spirit they are connected to will grab your attention and the fun begins.
These mini-games look like they would be quite dangerous, such as throwing yourself in the way of bolts of lightning to put them in bottles, catching glowing hot fireflies or breaking the curse on an ancient dragon, and this is only to name three of the several mini-games you will have to take part in.
Luckily for you, it is impossible to die in this game and by using your glowing orb called the Everlight you are pretty much sorted in whatever activity you are taking part in.
Each spirit will give you a bit of dead man currency called an Obol which will allow you to upgrade your Everlight with fun new abilities, like double jump or the ability to glide, which will enable you to explore areas that you couldn’t reach before and then unlock some upgrades for your buildings.
Like a Tetris puzzle, you will need to make the most of the space you have on your boat by moving around the oddly shaped buildings and connecting them together in a way that will benefit you. I tended to spend a good 30 minutes reordering my buildings to make the most of the space and to be as efficient as possible, but by the end of the game it just looked like a mess.
As for my complaints, there are very few. My main issue took part at the start of the game where it felt like it took ages to get anywhere. You have no upgrades and a lot of it is going back and forth between islands, which isn’t very fun.
Thankfully, as you progress there are ways to work around this such as making the most out of fast travel posts and upgrading your boat (which you will need to do anyway) to make it move faster.
My second complaint is also quite minor: I felt that the game was wonderfully paced until I got near the end. Once I was down to two spirits remaining everything felt quite rushed and didn’t have the same appeal as it did during the earlier hours. A lot of their quests had me going to places I had already been to and their stories didn’t feel as fleshed out as the others. This didn’t ruin the game or anything and I still thoroughly enjoyed the journey and my final hour in the game, but the drop in quality was noticeable.
I couldn’t help thinking about real life while playing Spiritfarer. As a game that focuses on the death of loved ones and how it affects those closest to them, it’s a story that will stick with me for a long time and has made me wonder how I will react when that daunting time comes for me. It’s not over yet as new spirits are coming this Summer and Autumn allowing us to uncover more of Stella’s story. I can’t wait. I’ve already pre-ordered a few boxes of tissues.
Spiritfarer PS5, PS4 Review
Spiritfarer offers calm and serene gameplay while dealing with some heavy subject matter that will surely poke at your emotions. The mini-games are a fun distraction and being able to dish out hugs whenever you feel they are needed helps make this journey a very personal one. Don’t forget your tissues…
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. for more information, please read our Review Policy.
Primary version tested: PS4. Reviewed using PS4.