PAX East Preview: Spiritfarer

Indie developer Thunder Lotus Games made a name for itself with its 2015 title Jotun. Based around Norse mythology, the game was something of a hardcore action title that featured an exquisite hand-drawn art style. Positive reception led to ports across many different platforms with the game eventually landing on Nintendo Switch in 2018.

Following up that success, Thunder Lotus released Sundered in 2017. A roguelike take on Metroidvanias, Sundered helped propel the studio forward with a unique combination of procedural generation and exploration. With a similar art style to Jotun, it seemed like the plucky Canadian studio had found a signature vision it could call its own.

Now, Thunder Lotus is back with Spiritfarer. Employing yet another hand-drawn style, Spiritfarer sits in a completely different genre from its predecessors. More of a management sim than an action title, the whole task of this game is to gather resources, craft materials and meals, and help people ease their way into the afterlife. I guess it’s kind of like Pixar’s Coco, just with fewer songs.

In a new, short gameplay video this morning, we can see that Spiritfarer won’t be breaking the tradition of 2D gameplay that Thunder Lotus is comfortable with. We can’t glean a whole lot, but one thing remains certain: that artwork is gorgeous. There’s always something so special about seeing pixel art in HD that makes me pine for the days of retro gaming.

Spiritfarer was present at both PAX West 2019 and Gamescom, but we don’t really know a whole lot. What we do know is that this is a more relaxed title from the studio’s past, that it deals with some heavy subject material, and that it will feature co-op support. The game is also heading to Xbox Game Pass for both PC and console and will arrive on PS4, Switch, Mac, and Linux when it does release.

I’ll be honest and say the main reason I wanted to check this out is for the art style. Sundered didn’t do a whole lot for me, but I’m always willing to check out quirky games that deal with tough subject material. Spiritfarer promises to tackle that, so I’m game to see it.

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