I finished Spritfarer last night. I’m not ready to talk about that because I need to digest it, so I want to talk about the issues I had with the game instead. Before I do that, however, I want to note that this is in contention for my GOTY. I mean, it is my GOTY so far, and I have a hard time believing that something is going to replace it because no way Elden Ring is releasing this year. Sigh.
::pours one out for Elden Ring::
What I’m saying is that it’s a fantastic game. I adore it. It made me laugh, and it made me cry, cry, and cry again. I poured over forty hours into it in a little more than a week. I would hop on to play for half an hour or an hour and five hours later….It’s fucked with my sleep even more, but at least it’s something I wanted to be doing. I 100%ed the game, and I found most of the secrets. There are a few chests and such I didn’t uncover, but otherwise, I know every inch of this game.
I say all that because I want to emphasize that my wishlist for Spiritfarer (by Thunder Lotus Games) is not about hating the game but about wanting to make it even better. No game is perfect, and it’s my nature to discuss everything about something I love–including the flaws. It’s the way I roll so here we go.
One of my biggest issues with the game is the platforming. I’ve said before (and I’ve said it so many times), if a game isn’t a platformer, the platforming usually sucks. The Dark Souls series is a perfect example of this in that each game has a platforming section that is utter balls. Platforming demands precise controls, and in games where that isn’t the focus, well, let’s just say that it can be frustrating for those of us with shitty reflexes.
In order to explore this fully, I have to talk about the full slate of abilities you can get in this game. Fair warning about spoilers and such. The game is backloaded with the more advanced abilities, which is another issue I have with the game. In fact, let’s talk about that first. The abilities are Jump which you get almost right away, Double Jump, also an early ability. Glide–somewhere around the middle.
Oh! By the way, This is all in the way I played the game which probably isn’t the ‘right’ way to play. I tend to do all the extra bits first and ignore the main missions for as long as I can. That means that I didn’t find things in the organic order, so everything I’m writing about is only in accordance to my game.
Bounce is late game. It allows you to bounce off discrete bounceable objects to go higher in the air. Dash which is very late game and arguably the most important ability which lets you ‘dash’ in the air in order to go farther than you can by running on land, Light–in looking up the name of this one, I realized I forgot one. Ziplines. That’s before Bounce. The reason I forgot it is because it’s my least-favorite. I’ll get to it in a second. Needless to say, it allows you to zipline in certain areas. Light Burst is after Dash, and it was only useful for very specific reasons. Then, there’s a shrine (how you get the abilities) that gives you a passive ability that upgrades your fishing and your mining. This was the very last shrine I found, which is a downer as it would have been more useful early on.
The general issue with the gameplay is that while the ideas were good, the execution was less than ideal. The game is in 2D, but the abilities feel like they want to be in a 3D game. With much more space on top. One thing the game loves to do is make you jump waaaaaay up in the air and then glide to some unforeseen platform upon which you need to land. If you fuck it up, you have to do the whole sequence again. There was one time late in the game where I seriously thought about quitting because it involved geysers, bouncing on top of tents, jerking back and forth, and I was getting increasingly frustrated. There was another time I was in a mine and could not find my way out for several minutes. Again, it was a combination of jumping/gliding that I just couldn’t get the hang of.
I will say it was hilarious how Daffy (my cat, Daffodil, to be precise) gained abilities as I did as well. He didn’t have to do ridiculous contortions to get said abilities, however. The one I love is when he makes a sound like a balloon being filled (helium) and then hurtles himself where I am, all poofed out.
I will say when the abilities work, however, it’s a lot of fun. The problem is that it’s so spotty for me, it creates frustration where previously there had been peaceful calm. The ziplines, especially, were a pain in the ass. Grabbing them was not easy, and then transferring from one to another included a jump that I missed more often than enough.
Another issue with the game is the grind. I know that it’s the way of management games, but I was nearly overwhelmed in the middle of the game with everything I needed to do. Make sure all my crops were watered. Cooked all the things so I could feed my passengers. Make sure NOT to feed them the same thing twice in a row because that made them upset. Hug them once a day except the one passenger who did not like being hugged, but not more than once a day. Each had a mood meter, and it was exhausting trying to keep up with who needed what.
Speaking of the grind, constantly going back and forth between places grew tedious after several hours. I was so glad there was fast travel introduced because that cut down on travel time. Plus, the ability to upgrade the boat’s speed was nice as well. And, I used that time to do all my chores. In addition to what I mentioned above, there was also melting metals into ingots, cutting logs into planks, weaving fibres into threads into fabrics, making sheets of metal and glass, and crushing things into other things. Oh, also making flour out of corn, wheat, and rice. And there’s fishing. And feeding/shearing sheep. And feeding/milking cows. And feeding/breeding chickens (the latter by placing an egg in the incubator) in order to have the chicken make eggs.
When I mentioned watering crops, that’s fields, gardens, and orchards. I think that’s all the chores, and I ended up ignoring them unless I needed the materials. I hated the water drop that indicated I needed to water something as I was incapable of walking by without watering. I ended up leaving fully grown crops in place so I didn’t have to deal with the water drops. Oh, and I could play the guitar to help the crops grow, which I did very infrequently. One more! Once I got the cellar (which was near-ish the end), I could ferment foods. Did just enough to fulfill the discover all the recipes achievement and not one whit more.
I want to note that some of this is my fault. I tend to glut myself on one game until I finish it or get sick of it. There is no time pressure in the game (well, except for those given by a late-game passenger, but I’ll get to that later), but there’s an internal pressure to do it all at the same time. You probably *could* finish the game in 20 hours or so, but that’s not how I roll.
I would say if the processes were automated more, it would have made me much more amenable to doing the chores. As it was, I became a sullen teenager who was told by my mother that I had to do the laundry BECAUSE I SAID SO.
Let’s talk mini-games. There are several of them in which you run across the boat and ‘catch’ certain things as they fly through the air. Firebugs, pulsars, comets, etc. There’s also a droll one, the very last one, that is part of a D&D campaign in which you hit orcs, some of them with the Light Burst in order to get XP potion. By the way, that’s the one thing you use Light Burst for. The other is to light up three lighthouses and then you get the orcs-killing events.
They were frustrating in the beginning when I didn’t have my abilities or much of anything on my ship because I felt as if I could only reach a limited amount of them. Once I got the Dash, which again, was near the end, it made them much easier. The Pulsar Rays one annoyed me the most because they curved around instead of going in a straight path, and I fucked that one up more time than I cared to admit. The Light Burst helped with that one because it ‘popped’ the pulsars, but again, that was within a few hours of the end of the game.
These were my main issues with the game. Again, they were not enough to make me permanently mad at the game, but they did grind me down while I was playing.