Plenty of artists have explored the idea of the afterlife and the form it takes makes for interesting speculation. It's a common topic among games and can make for beautiful, interesting, creative, and emotional experiences. These aspects can all be found in Spiritfarer by Thunder Lotus Games, which has recently come to mobile through Netflix. Its visuals and number of mechanics are all translated from the original version to make for a very full and long title. For those looking for a detailed dive into a specific role of the afterlife, this covers it well and asks you to work hard at it.
Afterlife scenarios can have endless amounts of rules and structures to get used to, but simple can also be effective. Despite everything Spiritfarer has going for it, it manages to keep the main story pretty simple. You are a girl named Stella who has been ferried to the afterlife by Charon, the Spiritfarer. However, Charon has finally decided to retire, selecting Stella and her cat Daffodil to take over in his stead. With a mystical artifact called the Everlight and their own boat, Stella and Daffodil need to pick up lost souls and help them find peace so they can move on. A noble and important job someone has to do, hopefully in the most peaceful way possible.
No matter what your role is, it's important to try to find ways to enjoy yourself. Spiritfarer presents quite a few despite the significance of your job. First and foremost is the overall presentation. The game’s graphics look like they were taken from the pages of a rich and colourful graphic novel. This is only enhanced by all the details in the character and creature animations. The music and sound add more to the experience and really makes the whole game feel like a journey.
The approach the game takes towards management also deserves praise. Even though you are managing a boat full of spirits and facilities, it never feels like a business. The gameplay creates a sense of providing a service not just for the lost souls, but for yourself. It's not the Spiritfarer who runs, collects, and builds everything, it's you. This gives everything a personal touch which is made even clearer by your interactions with the spirits.
All of this creates a sense of variety. There doesn't appear to be any time limit, and you can ferry as many spirits as you feel you can support. You can spend your time entirely on the boat, talking to the spirits and operating different facilities. But if you're looking for adventure, you can sail all around the map, visit new places, and collect whatever you find. Never a dull moment.
Even in the afterlife, there are still problems that can come up and Spiritfarer knows that. One that can't be helped is the graphical requirements. Unless you have a powerful tablet or phone, you'll need to deal with debilitating lag. You can lower the framerate to help a bit, but lowering the graphics quality robs too much of the game, especially during close-up segments.
Then there's the slow-pace of the management. While the personal touch and variety add a lot, it can also be tedious from an efficiency standpoint. Most facilities can only support a limited number of slots, so you'll either need to grind to build more, or purchase upgrades. Even when you do, Stella has to be guided personally to each one to initiate the action, which becomes a chore the bigger your boat gets. Considering how crowded interaction points can be, precision can fall by the wayside.
Spiritfarer is a 2D management and adventure sim about ferrying lost souls while also keeping them comfortable. It's an aesthetically beautiful experience with lots of different activities and a personal touch to the management. The personal touch slows things down noticeably and you better make sure your device is strong enough to support everything. If that’s the case, you'll be in for a lovely, exciting, and emotional story about finding peace for others and within yourself.