Ebb and flow.
In fantasy terms, Spiritfarer has focused on the equivalent of the Grey Havens, the place in The Lord of the Rings where you go and never return. This is a “cozy management game about dying”, which is a very appealing pitch. There’s a short demo on Steam that you can play right now. Do play it. Spiritfarer is already wonderful.
You play a ferryperson for the deceased. You have a beautiful boat that appears to have all sorts of dwellings built on it. It reminds me a little of the old London Bridge that was teetering with overhanging buildings like Nonesuch House and whatnot. You take people aboard when they are almost ready to move on. You build them rooms to stay in and you do things for them – in the demo you are tasked with going to retrieve a beloved necklace for someone. There is a lot of gadding back and forth across the sea managing things. Plant crops in a little garden. Catch fish and cook for people. Attend to people’s moods.
Spiritfarer is trying to do something very difficult, I think. From the demo you spend a lot of time nudging people’s moods to where you want them to be. I worried at first that it was a little transactional. But then I started to wonder if, over the full length of the game, the individual bumps and nudges will smooth out. I suspect the people you’re ferrying are not the true passengers, in other words. I suspect that Spiritfarer is trying to make something happen on your side of the screen, as you witness these people moving on and engage with what you are a part of.
Spiritfarer, then, may be a beautiful game about something we don’t like to think about very often: the idea that death is a part of life. I can’t wait to play more.