Spiritfarer Wishes to Explore How Death Is Terrible but Incredibly Ordinary

The cozy management game about dying still has no release date, but it sounds incredible.

As part of the summer Steam Games Festival, the developers of Spiritfarer — the anticipated cozy management indie game about dying — held an Ask Me Anything session on Reddit. Here are some of the biggest takeaways:

  • As a counterpoint to the usual harshness of the themes that are dying, death, and loss, the developers wanted Spiritfarer to be a cozy game. From the beginning, the importance of comfortable and positive interactions with the game’s world and characters was imperative.
  • The inspiration for Spiritfarer being led by a girl is one that has been taken from the developers’ past projects, as well as their desire to portray a more personal journey. The game’s Art Director states:

    All of our games, so far, have featured women as protagonists; in Jotun, Thora was reclaiming her honor through battle, and in Sundered, Eshe was trapped underground, forced to fight unending waves of horrors while hoping to make her way out. With Spiritfarer, we wanted to give a woman—well, a girl, this time—the chance to be loving, through and through. While of course still managing sick backflips and double jumps. There’s this pervasive idea that “strong female character” in the media must mean “physically strong”, but when I look at our lineup, I see that Stella is probably one of our strongest protagonists so far, emotionally, in her convictions. We wanted to explore that, and not rely on the often single-dimension meaning of the word “strong”.

  • The game still has no release date. The team is working hard to finish the game as soon as it can, but without sacrificing the high quality it wants.
  • In Spiritfarer, there are 13 crafting stations, a dozen sea events, and many other unique gameplay mechanics tied to spirits.
  • There are 11 spirits to find in the game, each one with different personalities, story arcs, and needs.
  • The game has been described as “40% management, 30% platforming, 30% story.” As Stella, throughout the story, you will find spirits who have requests that require tasks on the management side.
  • All spirits have complex backstories that will have you deciphering who they were, what happened to them up to the moment Stella meets them, and how they are all interconnected.

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  • Spiritfarer has been inspired by games like Harvest Moon and Stardew Valley. However, the team wanted to focus the game’s mechanics on characters and their needs rather than on expansion and progression.
  • Spiritfarer is around 20 hours long, and “more if you want to do everything.”
  • It is the studio’s third game.
  • The writing has been spread among three writers, with their own characters to write.
  • There won’t be chances for frights, but there will be for darker moments. The team has worked at striking the balance between an appropriate level of challenge and emotions.
  • Nicolas Guérin, the game’s Creative Director, has worked in the video games industry for nearly a decade and a half, most notably for EA and Ubisoft. In 2017, he jumped at the chance to join studio Thunder Lotus to lead the Spiritfarer development team.
  • Spiritfarer aims less to send a specific message than to explore different angles. But, if there is a message to be found, it would be that “death is terrible but incredibly ordinary. That there are ways to make it a bit less meaningless. That it’s ok to grieve and feel pain and to remember the simple things.” It is an “experiment in earnestness, vulnerability, and simplicity.”

Spritifarer is the indie game I’m probably most looking forward to, whether it’s out this year or the next. I’ve written about my extreme phobia of death before, so games that specifically explore the subject as a central theme have always caught my attention. It’s not like it’s a phobia that will ever go away, but maybe a game like Spiritfarer will let me see it as something less than the most terrifying thing in the world to me — even if for only a little while.

Spiritfarer is currently slated for a 2020 release on PC, Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox Game Pass.

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Natalie Flores

Natalie is Fanbyte's Featured Contributor, with bylines at places like VICE, Polygon, PC Gamer, Paste Magazine, and more.

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