The opening third or so of Thunder Lotus Games’ Spiritfarer was the most emotional gaming experiences I ever had. I got misty eyed thinking about death of loved ones and aging. I spoke with my fiancée about life, death, and family. I enjoyed exploring this space and meeting all these colorful characters. The process of getting to know them and discovering how they’re connected to the protagonist, Stella, was driving me forward. I wished the game ended shortly afterwards, but the game kept going and going. There was a lot more to see, but it’s a shame that most of it wasn’t worth seeing.
I’ve seen Spiritfarer described as Animal Crossing meets 2D platformer and it’s a pretty good summary of it. Unlike Animal Crossing though, I played as Stella, the new Charon of Greek mythology. Stella’s job was to meet spirits, get to know them, build things for them, plant veggies, harvest fruits, collect materials, upgrade buildings, and repeat. Unfortunately the novelty of that loop hinges on the size of the loop, and the rewards at the end of each loop. I felt Spiritfarer just didn’t have enough interesting rewards after overcoming the first major hurdle.
I was given the opportunity to customize the layout of the ship used to transport the wayward souls that I met, but I found it to be plodding and tedious with the controller. Unfortunately, I couldn’t overcome the travel times between the islands fast enough. Fast travel points helped reduce the travel time, but increased annoyance because I just found that dumb seal’s music and animation incredibly grating after the third or fourth time. Unless it was saving me significant time, I would rather just sail across these oceans and tend to the countless menial tasks around.
The garden and cooking fed into each other well and produced morsels of new crafting discoveries. And that sustained me for quite some time. There was a brief moment when I believed that I would take the time to discover all the cooking recipes. As silly as it may sound, I just wanted to see more drawings of good looking food. I generally liked the art style of Spirtifarer. It’s simple and flat, but any moment of flourish stood out and dazzled because of it.
Once the magic and charm began to disperse, my patience for the game eroded quickly. I began looking at guides to find things faster. I stopped trying to feed the spirits on the boat interesting foods. I just wanted it to see the credits and be done with it. And that’s probably one of the worst feelings to have with a game.
I will always remember Spiritfarer for its first third of the game and some of the most beautiful and moving moments it shared. However, I will also remember it for the game that dragged on for far too long and diluted its most powerful moments.
It was okay