In Spiritfarer, you play Stella, a girl who is tasked with ferrying lost spirits across the seas, granting their last wishes, and taking them to the Everdoor, which leads to the afterlife. It is a game about death, dying, and letting go, and yet, it isn’t depressing at all. As a management sim, with some elements of RPGs and platformers built into it, the game allows Stella (and thereby the player) to envision what a kind and compassionate society will look like.
You start out with a small ship, fish for food, travel to different islands to buy and trade resources and pick up strangers on the way. Soon, you’re befriending them, building them their own rooms Tetris-style on the ship, and cheering them up with hugs or their favorite snacks. They share their stories, wishes, and regrets, and you can help them find meaning and closure before their spirits eventually move on.
Image via Steam
Here, there are no high scores to reach or bosses to beat. In fact, when you encounter dragons and have to do a fair bit of platforming to extract ore from their bodies, you aren’t fighting them but instead helping them heal from sores. With several inter-connected quests, the deeper you delve into the game, the more superpowers (like jumping, gliding, etc.) you unlock, and your ship slowly expands to become a self-sufficient sanctuary for lost souls. With its dreamy visuals, wholesome stories, and soothing music, I found the game extremely wholesome and comforting.
The long months of loneliness brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic gave me the time and space to dwell on my trauma, past relationships, and dwindling friendships. Instead of being an escape from my troubles, Spiritfarer offered me a newer and empathetic perspective on things, teaching me to forgive others and myself for the wrongs of the past. Like Studio Ghibli films, Spiritfarer romanticizes the small things, reminding us of all the ways we take life for granted and that it is never too late to start being a better and kinder person.
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