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KKP Best Of 2020: Game #3

For the rest of the best in 2020, head here.

#3: Spiritfarer

We’re not sure who asked for a Metroidvania-slash-house-ferry-simulation combo that deals with dying and death, but in a whimsical, relaxing, and uplifting way. But I’m glad Spiritfarer exists.

It’s really hard to list a game these days that conveys its key message about saying goodbye without wanton antagonism. Somehow, Thunder Lotus’ simulation and platformer hybrid manages to convey its 20-hour gameplay without the lead character Stella actively fighting and killing anyone, or anything. Instead, all supposed bad beasties want to be your friend, and the only way to progress is to build up your boat base with gardens, chicken coops, and a foundry, as well as help your new boat companions with whatever last requests they have.

The only “killing” you’ll be doing involves sending your spirit companion through the Everdoor. But not without hearing their final words and a really touching theme playing while you’re paddling the boat to their final destination. You will have your “breakdown and cry moments” especially with companions like Alice and Atul when you’ve completed their respective story arcs.

Furthermore, Spiritfarer doesn’t bludgeon you with its message, unlike most indie games that have a point that they want to get across but somehow forced in gameplay elements that just hit you as subtly as a sledgehammer. You’re left to piece together the info you’re given, and the fact that the houses you built for your companions (as well as their respective resource-gathering activities) still remain once they’re past the Everdoor, reminding you that they’re gone for good.

If there’s a game that really brings in the feels this year, Spiritfarer is it. And it does so in a somber yet charming fashion.

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