Review

Spiritfarer Review – The Long Way Back

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Most simulation games are designed to last indefinitely. Even after you have cleared all the major milestones and completed each significant upgrade, you can continue to collect resources and accumulate wealth. The world machine still works, even if it doesn’t have a clear purpose. Spiritfarer is different. It’s an engaging story-driven business simulation with a clear start, middle, and end. However, her bittersweet tale also brings out the theme of recognizing when it’s time to move on. You play as Stella, a recently appointed Spiritfarer who transports the souls of the dead to their next phase of existence. As you navigate a colorful 2D world, you bring them aboard your ship and then respond to their various requests until they’re ready to go. They may want to visit specific places, eat their favorite foods, or experience new amenities on the ship. The principle is simple, but giving the spirits what they need involves a gradual escalation of resources to refine and build new structures. This is Spiritfarer’s central gaming loop, and while it’s satisfying, the process is filled with an unfortunate amount of busy work that wastes your time instead of improving it. At first, your boat is poorly equipped and it is easy to create what you need. When you need flax yarn, you build a garden, grow flax, harvest the lint, and then complete a quick mini-game on your loom to weave the yarn. You have a wide array of items to craft, so managing multiple production lines and optimizing your ship layout is a lot of fun in the early hours of Spiritfarer. However, as the requirements get more complicated, these “quick mini-games” add up; performing simple button presses to work bellows, hammer glass, and crush seeds is boring, especially considering how often you have to repeat these tasks to create the resources you need. A second player can control Daffodil in a local co-op to distribute these tasks, which lightens the burden but still doesn’t make the tasks fun to complete. As the craft itself ages, seeing the results of your efforts remains rewarding. Your tiny ship transforms into a sprawling naval village, complete with orchards, farm animals, and living spaces for your spiritual companions. I had fun organizing and rearranging the different buildings, unlocking new blueprints, and navigating all corners of the world to find useful items. Your destinations are usually small, side-scrolling islands with light platform challenges, and as time goes by in a day-night cycle, I fell into a happy routine of setting my course and then running around my ship. to perform maintenance in transit. Until the credits roll after almost 30 hours, I still had an upgrade or an interesting task to pursue. Most of your passengers take on anthropomorphic animal forms, like a bird or a lion, and they walk around and make the boat look like a community (and constantly ask you for food, which gets boring). Each has a distinct personality and story that unfolds through dialogue and quests, and moving those stories forward is how you progress through the various acts of Spiritfarer. I enjoy how it gives the trip structure beyond the usual ‘build things and get rich’ motivation, but most minds feel like embodiments of general concepts rather than fully realized characters. For example, you meet a wandering lion and an old hedgehog with a failing memory, but your interactions with them are more about who they represent than their personal stories, which can make it difficult to invest in them as a person. ‘people. The broad characterization of spirits is not always a bad thing. Spiritfarer is ultimately on the process of saying goodbye, and because the cast embodies different elements of the human experience, their arcs have a universal and relatable quality. This is especially evident during the farewell scenes of the spirits, in which Stella tucks them up to the door that leads to what happens next. With a full retrospective (and Stella’s help), they can face their lives in sad, poignant exchanges full of optimism, regret, and patience. These scenes are great rewards for your time with the Spirits, and I looked forward to each one. You encounter a limited number of Spirits on your travels, and seeing their stories is your main motivation to continue. Once you’ve completed this task, it’s time for you to say goodbye to Spiritfarer. Even though you can technically continue browsing after the credits roll, it seems unnecessary. The trip is over and I was satisfied with the feeling of closure. Despite the waters sometimes choppy in the rhythm and the characters, Spiritfarer is a journey that I will remember with affection.

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