Spiritfarer Preview – ferry the dead to the afterlife with a cat by your side

While I’m sure that a lot of people were blown away by some of the bigger announcements, trailers and surprise guest appearances at the Microsoft Briefing conference on Sunday, I know I was also wide-eyed at the game announcement that came right after. Spiritfarer, the latest title from Thunder Lotus Games, made a solid impression at the briefing with it’s gorgeous art-style and unique premise.

The reveal trailer at the Microsoft conference didn’t give us a whole lot of detail on what you do or how you do it in the game, though . Thankfully, I managed to spend a few minutes with William Dubè, president & CEO at Thunder Lotus Games, to shed a bit more light on what the talented Montreal indie dev team is planning to bring to the table with Spiritfarer.

“Spiritfarer is a management game about dying,” he told us. “You build a boat, explore the world, pick up spirits and release them into the afterlife.”

Delving into the game’s inspirations, Dubé explained, “Originally one of the main inspirations was actually Spirited Away, the Studio Ghibli film where there’s this hotel that’s taking care of spirits. So we said, ‘Well, let’s do that, but on a boat! It’s completely different! A revolutionary idea!’

“We were also inspired by the Charon myth from Greek Mythology. Charon ferries the souls of the dead across the River Styx, so there’s definitely a lot of influence there as well.”

You play as Stella, a ferry master for the deceased on their way to the afterlife, but as you can tell from Dubè’s description, you’ve got a whole lot more to do than just taking people from A to B – or should that be D for dead? Through the game you have to farm, mine, fish, harvest, cook and craft. All of this is in aid of fulfilling the final wishes of the spirits that you meet.

“All the spirits in the game they have their own stories,” Dubé revealed. “They have their own personalities and their own final requests for you. So when you bring them aboard your boat they give you their last wishes, and then you have to complete those and once you’ve completed that they’re ready to go where you can bring them to their next step beyond.”

One of the most interesting tidbits he shared was that, in Spiritfarer, you can play the entire game in co-op. You don’t simply have a recoloured version of Stella to play with, as the second player joins the adventure as Stella’s cat, Daffodil.

“Yes, you play as the cat! The characters are completely equivalent,” said Dubè. “Daffodil, does everything that Stella can do – even the fishing. The animations are really something to see!”

Dubè also went into a bit more detail about the gameplay loop of Spiritfarer. He explained that, while you’re helping a huge variety of different spirits with their requests as they journey to the afterlife, there’s still a main narrative throughline connecting these adventures that focuses on our protagonist, Stella, and her journey.

Speaking on the length of these adventures, Dubè shared that “we’re still really early [in development], but somewhere inbetween 20 and 30 hours for the main quests, [and then we’ll] have like 100 hours of extra stuff.”

When I asked what kind of extra stuff that the game would have, Dubè answered that they aimed to have a lot of more optional spirits that would act more as side quests. They also aim to have secrets, collectibles, and “all that extra side content to help build up your home, you can really expand it and add different things to [the ship].”

I’m even more excited for the game knowing so much more about what exactly you’re able to do in it. The combination of adventure-game exploration and town management seems incredibly addictive, and the added bonus of kitty co-op and dozens of hours of content is just icing on the cake.

We’ll see how all of this comes together when Spiritfarer launches in 2020 for PS4, Xbox One, Switch and PC.

Written by
I'm a writer, voice actor, and 3D artist living la vida loca in New York City. I'm into a pretty wide variety of games, and shows, and films, and music, and comics and anime. Anime and video games are my biggest vice, though, so feel free to talk to me about those. Bury me with my money.