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If letting go is hard for you, then you might need to grab some tissues before you play Spiritfarer. This indie title will touch your heart in a special way and make you cry out the pain – not just once, but multiple times. In this extraordinary hand-drawn indie game by Thunder Lotus Games, you are put into the shoes of the spiritfarer, as you help people move on to the afterlife and take the door to the end, rightfully called the Everdoor. You take on the mantle of a curious mix between the collector of souls, Grim Reaper, and Charon from Greek mythology, the ferryman who transports souls across the river Styx.


All aboard the afterlife train

As the name suggests, in Spiritfarer, you’ll be ferrying souls on a ship that is powered by everlight, a celestial energy that morphs to become whatever tool you need it to be. The game’s primary mechanics and function revolve around making the most productive ship so that you can meet the demands of the fellow souls who join your journey. You must keep them happy, well-fed, and complete their wishes which in turn will grant you extra benefits. Your ship starts off small and as you progress, you will be sailing the largest ship ever with features including breaking through ice, rocky areas, and even lights to navigate through thick fog. You will be building every spirit, their own personalized home to live in and upgrade their home with their desired interiors. Along with their home, you will be building a kitchen to feed them, a garden to grow seeds, a ‘field’ to grow crops, a ‘sawmill’ to convert logs to planks, and much more.

Long story short, your ferry is a moving workstation, with everything in it to provide your friends with a luxurious journey to the afterlife. You can sail from anywhere and even fast travel by visiting stops that have been taken over by a magical seal. Your management skills will be tested and your progression speed relies on it. And to top all of this, the game will pull at your heartstrings at almost every bend in the story. It manages to pull you in the conversation of peace and death with a deft hand of storytelling maturity.


Hand Drawn Magic

Spiritfarer’s hand-drawn and animated art is, in my humble opinion, the most stunning amongst all the indie games released this year. From the sun rays piercing through the objects to the beautifully designed characters, environment, stages, and much more, Spiritfarer feels like an artist’s best creations compiled into one small gift box. The interactive animations, the idle-animation, the day-night cycle, and other important visual aspects of this game make it the best-looking game I’ve played this year!

One of the most vital parts of this game is that Stella is not the only protagonist – you are backed by your best friend Daffodil the cat. It was very late into the game that I realized that Daffodil is an actual playable character in local co-op. However, even if you play this solo, daffodil will always be around you, helping you chop wood, and giving you regular emotional hugs for motivation. One of my favorite points of interest in the huge sea of Spiritfarer’s map is an obvious guess – The Everdoor. The red water, trees with white leaves that are floating all over the place create the most aesthetically pleasing look the game can provide. This perfectly suits the tone of the game as this is the place where the spirits come to move on to the afterlife. Apart from the Everdoor, there are many interesting places to visit, where you can interact with the NPC’s to hear their interesting stories. 

With power, comes responsibility

In this magical world, the spiritfarer bears the everlight blessed by the gods. You can visit certain shrines to further enhance the everlight’s abilities to your advantage. This will include, double jump, zipline, dash, hover in the air, and my favorite – high jumps on bouncy surfaces. I love how Stella elegantly gains height while jumping on these extra bouncy objects. With all these powers, you can fight the darkness that lies within the world of Spiritfarer. You will need to free the dragons of the sea who have been taken over by darkness by rocks that have grown over them. You will need to break those rocks and set the dragons free of his suffering, and in return, you can gain special minerals including quartz and silver ore.

Similarly, you can fight the jellybeans that are present in this world who, once again, spread darkness. With your everlight, you just need to touch them once and they will be gone for good. In return, you will gain a good amount of in-game money and important resources. Apart from darkness, you can interact with more natural elements in this game, including a meteor shower, a water creature that comes to rest on your ship, and lets you play with her kids.

Did someone say parkour?

Stella has some intense gymnastic skills, from jumping off rooftops, to sliding off slanted surfaces topped off with the double jump and hover. Spending time jumping around your ship is one of the most fun things to do. There is no problem or hard work required to sail to a destination – the only effort required to reach somewhere is to wait. Alternatively, you can increase the speed of the ship during later upgrades. You swiftly traverse around a particular POI or city using double jump and zipline, however the only setback is that you cannot travel during nights. You need to sleep until the next day and start anew – you need to feed everyone again and then set off to your destination. This just increases the game’s length artificially and disrupts the pacing a bit.

You can equip the ship with a zipline, a vent that allows you to fly in the air and easily reach different parts of your ship faster. All these elements make it a fast and very perfectly flowing management game, where you can multitask properly and efficiently. You can skip dialogues according to your reading speed, and almost every resource in the game can be processed instantly except for cooking foods. You can even speed up the growth rates of crops by playing them very peaceful music. Along with it, you can do fishing, have a cow on board for dairy, and turn these products to 80+ dishes in the game. You can either sign up at a food delivery job to use your leftover food or just sell them at a good price. These mechanics set a perfect tone for the game loop. Nothing feels off about the game and I personally was motivated to play this game for hours without stopping. 


Spiritfarer broke me – emotionally. In the end, when it comes time for a spirit to say goodbye, my eyes watered up. And this poignant journey intensifies every time you talk to them, hug them, and make memories, and hear their story. All of the spirits give you a unique nickname, which stays on with you and this, combined with the touching music just melts even the most hardened heart. When I finished the game, I cried for a good 2 hours and recapped the 40+ hours I put into the game in my mind. Spiritfarer is an easy recommend to everyone who loves an emotional journey.


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