“If life is hard, you should not be hard to it.”
Spiritfarer is a game about Stella, the new guide to those who have passed and are moving on to the other side. As Stella, the player interacts with the dead, helping them fulfill their last requests before passing on. A game dealing with grief, loss, and love, Spiritfarer features lovable and complex characters that you can’t help but fall in love with. The wonderful cast of anthropomorphic creatures will make you shed a tear as each one is helped through the Everdoor.
Spiritfarer has a very complex story to it, filled with even more nuanced and complex characters. From big-sister figure Gwen to intellectual artist Gustav, each character presents themselves, flaws and all, to be ferried to the Everdoor by Stella and her adorable companion, Daffodil. While the game itself has plenty of comedic moments, fun interactions with characters, and many places to explore, the biggest draw of Spiritfarer is its deep narrative, which tells a tale that most tend to stray away from.
The game relies heavily on the theme of grief and death, and because of that, it also allows the player to explore many intricacies that come with it. An example would be one of the characters, Summer, who expresses her trauma of losing her wife. Another character is Daria, a patient at a hospital who suffers from chromesthesia and has been institutionalized all her life. The game is not afraid to tackle such complex themes and has become what some may consider a “healing” game.
This experience does not extend to everyone, however. Many have criticized Daria along with an accompanying character in her story, Jackie. The two characters have been considered to be stereotypes of how people with mental illness are mistreated, and how Daria is a stereotypical artist with mental health issues, and Jackie is an abuser with anger issues.
However, some may consider these characters as good representation, with some players having experienced situations very similar to the two and finding their story to be a healing experience.
I do not believe it is my place to place judgment on these characters. The way they are handled is very much a situation I do not feel experienced enough in to give a proper critique about. Rather, I feel obligated to address how some feel about this game. This game has been praised for its themes and story, but it’s also important to consider how some may feel about this game due to their own experiences.
I’d heed a word of caution to those who may feel discomfort towards themes about mistreatment of those institutionalized, grief, and abuse. Spiritfarer is a beautiful, touching, and heartfelt game, but don’t feel forced to play at the cost of your comfort.
The topics may be a bit discomforting, but you shouldn’t be.