During Microsoft's E3 press conference yesterday, Thunder Lotus debuted their next title, and it looks to be a little different from their past two (Jotun and Sundered). Spiritfarer places you in the role of Stella, a ferrymaster who's job is to care for spirits before taking them to the afterlife. It is, as Creative Director Nicolas Guérin put it, "a positive game about loss, friendship, empathy, and what is left behind."
Looking at Spiritfarer strictly from a gameplay perspective, it is a management sim. You'll hunt, fish, harvest, cook, and craft to keep your spirit passengers happy and content on the voyage while also building up your ship to provide more living spaces and comforts. The game will also let a second player join in to play as Daffodil, the cat, who has all the same abilities as the player controlling Stella and can help keep things going smoothly on the boat. Moving beyond that narrow view of things, though, Spiritfarer is clearly going for something more than just another management sim.
Watching the trailer, there were moments that brought to mind films like "Spirited Away" and "Howl's Moving Castle;" not so much from the animation style, which looks really good, but the brief glimpses of character interactions. Something about the way Stella tried breaking rocks and harvesting plants reminded me of Miyazaki's style, not to mention that squirrel (I think it's a squirrel? maybe a raccoon) merchant. I'm going to call him Risu and he will be my best friend.
There's no official release date for Spiritfarer (it's currently listed as a 2020 release) and despite it debuting at Microsoft's press conference, it'll be headed to all modern platforms: PC, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. I'm really looking forward to this one.