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Storytelling Done Right: Spiritfarer Review

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Spiritfarer Logo

Management games often struggle quite a bit with making games accessible to a wide audience. Animal Crossing, although only partially a part of this genre, has made it possible in recent years to make a game that is both deep and easily picked up by anyone. Spiritfarer proudly carries the torch of this tradition forward, but does it do the roots of the genre justice?

Platforms: Switch, PS4, Xbox One, Stadia, PC [Reviewed], Linux, Mac
Developer: Thunder Lotus Games
Release: August 18, 2020
MSRP: $29.99

Right off the bat, Spiritfarer thoroughly destroys previous conventions with its story and theme. You are the new ferryman of the dead, bringing the dead from their place of passing to the place where they step off into the greater afterlife. This is a risky approach to storytelling, but Spiritfarer does it exceptionally well by turning the focus from that stepping-off point to the stories of the individuals. You, as ferryman of the dead, will be listening to these lost souls and helping them to squash any last doubts before letting them go.

The individual stories, themes, actions, and dialogue with these characters that you are helping are exceptionally done. The writing is superb, and every character's arc is more than just a characterization of that person, but a look inward at the quirks that make us human. If you are buying this game for the story, you are not making a mistake.

Spiritfarer Boat

Spiritfarer's gameplay also draws together these themes. It mainly revolves around managing the needs of your boat and the people on it. For instance, certain characters desire certain foods, some of which must be cooked after acquisition. All the while, you'll find yourself moving from place to place upgrading and augmenting your ferry into something you can truly be proud of.

Progression takes the form of acquiring new villagers, as well as increasing the size of your ferry. By the end of the game, it will be quite the journey from one end of your ferry to the other, but each step of the way will be both satisfying and fulfilling.

Spiritfarer Fishing

Since you do have a ferry, you can travel between islands. But, the travel isn't boring. You can fish, build, weave cloth, and other such minigames to keep you occupied. The travel is nothing short of a masterpiece of management design, making each destination seem like a sidequest to the main journey. This main journey, the progression of the boat, is totally and completely created and maintained by the player.

Audio and visual design both suit a particular aesthetic but isn't dedicated enough to it to make anyone who isn't a fan of this aesthetic offended. This is a point in its favor, since this game is designed to be accessible, and makes it stand-above other games with similar aesthetics.

Spiritfarer Town

This game is, in a word, extremely wholesome. It tells an incredible story of redemption and rest and makes the entire experience of death seem less scary and more comfy. This is not only an incredible game but also an incredible story as a whole.

This game sometimes borders on monotonous in terms of its design but never crosses the line. It perfectly stands on that line between monotonous and relaxing, and revels in its balance. It is cute, charming, compelling, and earns an official recommendation from us.


  • Charming aesthetic
  • Relaxing management gameplay
  • Excellent presentation
  • Extremely wholesome story
  • Stories are short and never overstay their welcome
  • Characters are compelling
  • Great music


  • Could be considered monotonous by some
  • A bit overbearing in its message
  • Lacks some depth




Excellent games have our official recommendation and are examples of what every game should strive to be. These games feature exciting gameplay, engaging stories (when applicable), intuitive controls and movement, polished and fitting presentations, and good value. Above all else, these games are truly fun to play.

Want to know what this score means? Check out our Scoring Guidelines page.

About the Author: Collin Westbrook

Collin Westbrook joined in 2010 to help with Zelda Castle, and has since rejoined the staff multiple times throughout Nintendo Castle's existence. He is a lover of strategy games, platformers, and everything Nintendo. Look out for him editing guides, writing articles, and helping the site in whatever way he can.

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