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Spiritfarer is a serene boat adventure about compassion in the face of death

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Spiritfarer is a bit of a thematic oddity. The game is an upbeat and cheery adventure that also deals with the not-so-cheerful topics of loss and death. You play as Stella, a chipper ferry master who helps spirits pass on into the afterlife from the comfort of her boat. On the one hand, you get to meet a bunch of adorable characters, but on the other, you get to find out how they all met their end. It’s a game about making new friends, but also knowing you’ll have to say goodbye to them.  

You’d think that Spriritfarer would suffer from a serious case of emotional whiplash, but after playing an hour-long preview with creative director Nicolas Guérin as my guide, the duality of finding comfort in death is so finely balanced it’s admirable. Thunder Lotus has always been open about how Spiritfarer will be a death-positive game, and for Guérin the experience of making Spiritfarer has been all about perfecting this balance.

“It’s been a journey, I can tell you that,” Guérin says. “One of the very first intentions we had was not to impose a message on people. We didn’t really want to say something specific except that we wanted to get accustomed to talking about death more. It’s a haunting subject, it’s both extremely common and extremely dramatic.”  

Spiritfarer

(Image credit: Thunder Lotus)

Having spent over a decade in the industry working at Ubisoft, Guérin wanted to try something a little different. Leaving the brutal stabbings of the Assassin’s Creed games behind, he wanted to create something a little more close to his heart. Making a death-positive game meant finding compassion in the times where people need it the most. 

We knew we wanted spirits on the ship and we knew we wanted Stella taking care of them, being there for them, and doing things for them.

Nicolas Guérin, Creative Director

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