At a glance
Spiritfarer is a strikingly gorgeous game from Thunder Lotus that lands itself in the simulation and adventure genre that fans are increasingly demanding. Released on the 18th of August, Spiritfarer brings the zen-like relaxation of managing, building, foraging, and exploring but in a new way through a unique oceanic theme. In Stardew Valley you forage around Pelican Town. In Animal Crossing, your adventure begins upon the island of your choosing. And while Minecraft isn't considered a simulation genre, you'll appreciate the foraging aspects that transfer as well. Spritifarer contains features from all of our favorite simulation games but with multiple twists. Your building, foraging, and community exist on top of a boat which is constantly growing and changing as you progress through the story. Most importantly, Spiritfarer offers an emotional rollercoaster through the dialogue and friendship provided by the game's characters that creates an experience few games have ever offered.
Below I'll provide bite-sized snippets of the Story, Building, Foraging, the Map, and my Conclusion.
While I would like to add my own flavor to the overall description, I'll choose not to. Aside from briefly commenting on what I thought was the core of this game, character relationships, I will first let you read the game summary from Thunder Lotus since they said it perfectly.
Spiritfarer is a cozy management game about dying. You play Stella, ferrymaster to the deceased, a Spiritfarer. Build a boat to explore the world, then befriend and care for spirits before finally releasing them into the afterlife. Farm, mine, fish, harvest, cook, and craft your way across mystical seas. Join the adventure as Daffodil the cat, in two-player cooperative play. Spend relaxing quality time with your spirit passengers, create lasting memories, and, ultimately, learn how to say goodbye to your cherished friends. What will you leave behind? - TL
More specifically, the story and the relational narratives are what sets Spiritfarer apart from other games. You might've already seen the countless memes about some of the emotionally driven relationships encountered in Spiritfarer. If you haven't, sit down and buckle up and also grab some tissues. Actually, just grab some tissues regardless. The characters you meet in Spiritfarer are leaving the world and journeying on to the afterlife atop of your boat. You quickly learn that each character has their own unique story recounting life before they passed. If you are a button masher, I encourage you to slow down and intentionally interact with each spirit. Listen carefully to the things they have to say and hear them out when they depict their careers, friendships, wisdom, life hardships, and anything else they feel comfortable sharing with you. The dialogue is laden with nuances that are easy to miss if you are not entirely present. Please don't take these moments lightly, or speed through them with haste. Let the weight of these interactions overwhelm you entirely. This unique aspect is sure to provide a fresh experience to your gaming resume that most players will not already have acquired.
As the newly chosen spiritfarer, you will welcome lost spirits onto your vessel as you explore the map and uncover new territories. As with any new management simulation themed game, you will need to learn which materials do what, where to find them, and what they upgrade. Spiritfarer does a decent job explaining these new materials throughout the story alongside their beautiful UI. As new spirit characters join your ship you quickly realize their needs are never quite met and pandering to those needs unlocks dialogue and progression within the story. I mean, it only makes sense each spirit would have their own custom house right? The more you build the less space you'll have but of course, you'll be able to upgrade your ship and the size along with it. The progression layers are quite impressive and grasping these ropes can be a learning curve, but an enjoyable one at that, which I found preferable to similar games. Not only are you able to upgrade your ship to compliment your builds, but you are also able to edit and upgrade structures as you progress along on your adventures.
One twist I thoroughly enjoyed was the unique foraging concept. In most simulation games you'll traverse a known space to gather and create desired provisions. In Spiritfarer, foraging takes place on the go and often involves relationships with giant sea turtles, exploring new islands, buying from town markets, scavenging ship wrecks, and discovering various creatures. Some of these items, once collected, can be managed and multiplied on your boat. Seeds can be planted in your garden or farm. Fishing takes place off the back of your boat. Logs can be cut into planks once you build a sawmill, a loom can be used to weave clothes, and many other productive tooling solutions can be found atop your floating workbench. In addition to the various foraging facets, you’ll need to remember to keep your spirit passengers happy, fed, and comfortably boarded.
I am a sucker for archaic treasure maps seen in any pirate story. If the dotted-line path to a mysterious treasure chest does anything for you, you'll enjoy Spiritfarer's map. While the map is opaquely hidden, you will unlock more as you explore and begin to uncover the names of towns, islands, sea creature symbols, and everything else. Hovering over each icon will give you a quick look into the resources available or other reasons you might want to visit. I explored the first portion of the map in under 20 hours only to discover that the expanding map had more to offer, but only after I upgraded my ships exploration abilities. Like any upgrade in simulation themed games, you'll need to upgrade quite often before acquiring the ability to break through ice, and later rock, to explore an even larger map. So far I’ve found the grind to have an excellent balance and not over burdening. Map lovers, prepare to explore a vast and enigmatic ocean.
Conclusion & Rating
For starters, if you enjoyed any of the games mentioned in the opening like Stardew Valley, Animal Crossing, foraging aspects from Minecraft, or simulation management games in general, I'm ecstatic to say you'll love this one. So what are you waiting for? Go buy it and play it, stop reading this? If you enjoy the fantastic art, emotionally intelligent stories, and the oceanic sea-explorer theme you should stop reading and get to playing as well. Although I cannot speak to Thunder Lotus' previous titles, Sundered and Joltan, I can emphatically state that I would have paid $40 or $50 for this title and been satisfied. While I don't claim to be the simulator or foraging genre expert, as I personally despised Minecraft, I am confident this title will scratch any in-game management itches you might have and will be a re-playable title to keep on your digital shelf. In accordance with our rating criteria, Spiritfarer gets a 4 out of 5 (Impressive) on the Busch League Rating Scale BLRS. While at certain times I felt a 5 trying to break out, it currently slots itself among the 4's. Thank you Thunder Lotus, and gamers stop wasting time, go inundate yourself into Stella's journey.