Saying goodbye to Spiritfarer feels like saying goodbye to one of the spirits. I feel fulfilled and ready to move on and yet, I have a strong longing for more.
Okay let’s back up a little bit. What is Spiritfarer? It’s described as a “cozy management game about dying”. You play as Stella, a young girl who has been tasked with the duty of caring for spirits in a world after death. In this world, the spirits are presented as anthropomorphic characters and you can find them on various islands and take them into your ship. A lot of them also happen to have a personal connection to Stella (e.g. your Uncle Atul). You traverse through their quests, listen to their stories and teachings, and maybe cook their favorite dishes if you have the right ingredients. At the end of all that, you ferry them to the Everdoor and give them one last hug before they leave.
I would love to say that you ferry everyone to the Everdoor when they’ve resolved their regrets and wishes and feel like they’re ready to move on, but death is more complicated than that.
The gameplay is fairly simple though. You manage a ship and sail across the map from island to island. As you explore these areas you can buy seeds, mine resources, cut trees, find treasure, etc. On your ship you can tend crops, make grain, loom fabric, smelt ore, etc. You can upgrade your ship to unlock new areas, unlock abilities that let you access new areas (like double jump), and upgrade buildings within your ship. Each spirit also introduces a small mini game into your adventure, though most of them end up feeling like the same task with a different theme by the end of the game.
It’s nothing special, but it’s certainly very cozy, and I appreciate that.
The really big strength of the game is in its characters though. The game is relentless with making you really emotionally attached to someone and then forcing you to say goodbye. I read another post about this game a while back and commented something like, “I love all the characters so much, even the jerks”. Look at these guys. All of these guys are assholes and yet, I was still sad when they were gone because the ship felt really empty without them.
I guess my biggest criticism of the game to be honest is that the game has amazing characters, but there’s also a bit of “All There In The Manual” thing going on. There’s an artbook for the game and it’s absolutely stunning but I found that there were a lot of things outlined in the artbook but not in the game. It’s sort of hard to explain without massive spoilers, and it’s not a super huge complaint, just something I felt like I should at least mention.
I played the entire game with two player couch co-op and though the camera was a bit wonky at times, it worked out really well.