Spiritfarer is a gorgeous game that’s filled with deep and unexpected emotions. You play as Stella a ship captain that ferries people onwards to the afterlife. While it may sound morbid the game is actually very sweet and just a delight to play. To check out our actual gameplay guide tab open here. This article however will focus on the stories of the characters and passengers you take onboard your ship to look after.
In Spiritfarer you take these delightful anamorphic animals on board your ship and fulfil their little requests. But if you spend the time to talk to them you begin to hear little tidbits of their life beforehand. You hear about their happiest moments, their memories and their regrets. The tough-talking Gwen all full of false bravado was living a life of quiet desperation. Giovanni enjoyed his life to the fullest but in the end, regretted hurting his love. These stories are what make Spiritfarer such a memorable game and if you have yet to finish playing I’d advise you not to read this because – spoilers.
Update 22nd December 2021: This article has been updated with the four remaining characters – Lily, Beverly, Jackie and Daria that have been introduced to the game in 2021s free DLCs.
– – – SPOILER WARNING – – –
In death, Stella cares for the spirits not ready to move on, much the same as she did in life. Stella was a palliative care nurse that helped to look after patients in the last days of their life. When medicine could no longer help them. She eased as much of their pain as she could right up until the day she became ill with cancer herself. All of the characters we meet, except Buck, are former patients or family members of hers that she helped in her time on Earth.
The first spirit you meet is Gwen a beautiful and graceful deer. Gwen’s parents and Stella’s parents were friends before they both moved to North America with both of them growing up together. Heir to an aristocratic but mostly dysfunctional family, Gwen had a difficult relationship with her father. He was proud of his daughter, but would often distastefully parade her and her intelligence as a way to receive self-aggrandizement. This sort of distant and demeening upbringing caused Gwen to be resentful and rebellious.
Gwen may come off as emotionally distant but she does love Stella. Symbolic of her rebellious nature, Gwen picked up smoking at a very young age. Yet, despite all her courage and bravado, she never mustered the courage to smoke publicly or in front of her father. Ironically, smoking is what eventually killed Gwen, when she passed from lung cancer in her 40s. As she reached the final stage of her disease, Gwen traveled back to her parent’s manor in Northern Italy’s Alpine Lakes region, and considered committing suicide. But she was stopped by Stella who managed to reach Gwen before that could happen.
Atul the happy jumping toad is the spirit of Stella’s paternal uncle. He emigrated to the northeast of France at the same time as Stella and her parents. Before they settled a decade later across the Atlantic Ocean.
In his previous life he was a handyman, which is why you can always see him fixing up stuff around the ship. Atul loved his neice and took great pride in teaching Stella all the skills he could. From fishing to cooking, to simply sitting and enjoying the sunset. From being a handyman in the construction line he eventually became union leader to fight for the rights of disparaged workers.
As cheerful as Atul seemed on the outside, he seemed to be hiding a deep sadness or unfulfillment on the inside. Regardless of all the love he received, no matter how sensational the gourmet food he ate was, he was always restless. Eventually, while Stella was still in Europe in her early twenties, Atul disappeared without a trace. This was a great shock to Stella, and she never truly learned what had happened to him. His disappearance was one of the reasons Stella decided to move to North America with her mother, Marie, and her second sister, Lilly. His disappearance on the ship reflects his disappearance in life, with Stella never having taken him through the Everdoor.
Married to Stella’s Aunt Rose, Summer was an agronomic engineer that worked with large farming corporations in her youth. Due to her constant use of heavy chemicals, she developed breast cancer and left town to heal. During her recovery, Summer developed an interest in biodynamic farming, meditation and overall spirituality. Which she keeps trying to teach Stella even in death. It was Summer who inspired Stella to become a nurse.
Summer vowed to live every day in the glow of what she called the universal love. With Rose, she built a blooming garden in a remote area for just the two of them. Many happy days were spent in this house they made for themselves until Rose passed away. Summer’s last decade was filled with struggles. The dragon she keeps referring to and battling is her cancer. And the loss of Rose left her adrift, without her by her side, she found it hard to take care of herself. Then, when her cancer came back, it was for good. She died with Stella by her side.
The first person I met on my Spiritfarer journey that was not directly related to Stella was Alice. Alice was a stay at home Mom that was one of the first patients that Stella ever took care of to die. Alice posed a pivotal moment in Stella’s life because that experience reaffirmed her will to work in end-of-life care.
Alice was a housewife dutifully devoted to her children, who lived her life vicariously through books. In the end, she had her regrets and wished that she could have had a more adventurous life. The story becomes additionally more heartbreaking as we begin to see Alice affected by some kind of dementia. When Alice starts getting tired and asking you to walk her and forgetting who Stella was. That made my heart hurt.
Astrid is Stella’s adopted grandmother and warrior Lynx. In World War 2 she hid Jewish children even though she was but a child herself. And in her later years, she fought for the rights of worker’s unions. Possibly they met through Atul as they met Stella while she was a teenager in France.
I believe Astrid came from a fairly well to do family due to her relationship with the turtle sisters. That seems to showcase a frivolous and gossiping upper class. She doesn’t appreciate the trappings but knows how to play in their world. According to Giovanni, she was the kind of person who could fill a room with her charisma and presence.
She was practical in life but at love, her heart ruled. She was taken in by the smooth-talking Giovanni. Astrid loved him deeply but she was tormented by his cheating. Eventually, she had to let go of him to live her own life. And she passed away at a very old age, with Stella by her side.
Giovanni was married to Astrid and was Stella’s adopted grandfather. He lived his life by one phrase “carpe diem”. He lived a life of simple pleasures enjoying good food, good clothing and of course women. Giovanni always made sure to do everything in his power to charm everyone around him, even if it sometimes involved doing shady things just to win someone’s heart. Up until his death by a heart attack, he wanted to live his life to the fullest. In the end, however, he did regret hurting Astrid and those around him.
The youngest spirit on your ship in Spiritfarer is Stanley. His presence on the ship showcases that death can come in all forms.
Stanley is an 8-year-old boy that was losing a fight against a fatal unknown disease. Cheerful and whimsical, Stanley is the youngest patient Stella ever had to take care of, leaving an unforgettable imprint on her. He helped her realize that wisdom and peace of mind can be found in the most unusual patients.
Bruce & Mickey
Bruce is the Hummingbird and Mickey is the Buffalo that never speaks. This is an unusual pair of brothers that Stella encounters during her senior year as an end-of-life care nurse. Mickey, an imposing and intimidating behemoth of a man, ends up in a coma after receiving gunshot wounds while in a car chase. His brother Bruce never leaves his side, accompanying him in the most extreme, dangerous, and illegal activities. The two of them are inseparable and, at Mickey’s arrival in Stella’s care, becomes a staple of the ward for many months.
Bruce always talks “on behalf” of his brother, in denial that Mickey is simply not there anymore. Incapable of coming to terms with the fact that his brother, while technically alive, is beyond salvation. Bruce keeps on making outlandish requests and angry comments, but you know it’s just panic on behalf of his brother. First stage denial, second stage anger. The acceptance will break your heart.
As Stella travelled through Japan as a young adult, emancipated and in control of her life, she meets Gustav. A spectacular German art curator, Gustav has a brilliant career that leads him to travel the world, curating exhibitions for a multitude of museums and galleries. His extensive knowledge of art, history, and architecture sometimes makes him come across as a smug intellectual.
At a relatively young age, Gustav develops a degenerative disease that physically paralyzes him, but leaves him with a clear mind. He was likely in a wheelchair in the latter part of his life (which is why his spirit is a bird, which can fly free). Gustav continues working as much as he can, but his condition stifles his career, sours his mood, and forces his mind towards more contemplative subjects. It can be assumed that this disease was what ultimately killed Gustav.
One of Stella’s last patients, Elena was an indomitable woman whose stubbornness and lack of empathy carried on even until death. In life, Elena was a teacher. She worked in a school that made sure everyone would pass. It was the kind of school that’s the main lesson was that “money can buy everything”. She was never impressed by any student that had come through her classroom, no one was focused enough for her. They were distracted, talkative, doing anything but paying attention to what Elena would attempt to teach.
In her mind, there is one memorable day from her life. A student had come back from a rowdy gym class; it was Elena’s first year on the job and the student was fuming. Though she tried to control them, they were too rowdy and wouldn’t sit still. That day she snapped and screamed at the student. It was the first time that they listened. Elena had told them truths that would only reveal themselves later in life, truths that only came after losing someone or something dear to you. She focused on talent and excellence, to never let herself lose her resolve again.
Elena hadn’t ever felt useful to the gifted students, nor did she like breaking the spirit of the weaker students. She disliked seeing them just struggle as she tried to teach them because they didn’t know why she challenged them. She says she challenged them due to the fact that they never listened, which to Elena, is the easiest thing. But it was her favourite thing, she knew that eventually, these students would learn. They would learn through the hardships and know how to survive, how to be better and how to become leaders.
Buck the lizard is the only spirit that you meet that has already gone through the Everdoor, he’ll keep you company until the end of the game.
Buck has already passed on when Stella meets him. In Stella’s life, Buck was her sister Lily’s friend who died in his teenage years. Stella remembers Lily’s recounting of many of Buck’s, after his death. Although Stella never actually met him in life, his story fascinated her, as well as the geeky personality Lily described when she talked about him. Buck’s habits of escaping his reality through tabletop RPG’s led Stella to believe, in a very peculiar way, that his attunement with the end of his life defined him. This made her fall in love with Role Playing Games, idealizing Buck in the process.
Lily joined Spiritfarer this Spring on April 20th 2021.
Lily is the spiritual manifestation of Stella’s younger sister and is the only one not actually dead. Instead, at this point in time, it’s hinted that Stella is in some sort of coma. So Lily’s spirit is likely her trying to communicate with her sister from the living world. She’s there to help Stella make her final departure.
Lily will only appear towards the end of the game after more spirits have gone through the Everdoor. As their cabins fill with flowers, more butterflies will appear on your boat. Eventually, a flower above Stella’s cabin will glow at night and interacting with it will cause the butterflies to settle and form Lily. Unlike the other spirits, she doesn’t need a house, food and doesn’t speak. You only see her at night near your room and she comes in the shape of several butterflies surrounding a flower.
When Stella makes her final departure, butterflies follow her rowboat as she heads to the Everdoor. Signalling Lily’s escort of her sister to her final resting place.
Beverly joined Spiritfarer this Summer on August 31st 2021.
This diminutive little owl is Stella’s old neighbour that you’ll find in Oxbury. She’s in the twilight of her years but unlike Alice is a chatty little thing often regaling you with long stories about her many friends. I think she’s of Southeast Asian descent, considering her love and affinity for Laksa.
Stella and Beverly met as neighbours when Beverly moved to the city after selling her farmhouse. It seems that as she got older, her memory starts to fade, and she began to forget names and recent events, causing her to repeat the same things to Stella over and over again.
When you meet her she mentions 3 people, Henry, Sarah and David. Henry and Sarah are her children, and David was her husband, who passed before her. David was a maths teacher for a high school named Chelsea High. Beverly met David on a blind date, as her friend Pauline, who was the school’s secretary, matched them up.
She mentions that her family house was designed by a professional architect, but when her children moved out she sold it. The house was a cosy little farmhouse and it meant the world to her. And she gets a little upset when you build her one that is not up to her standard.
Jackie & Daria
Jackie and Daria joined Spiritfarer this Winter on December 13th 2021.
Jackie and Daria appear on a brand new island Overbrook, that houses a broken down hospital. It’s being run by a cantankerous old hyena who’s the sole caretaker and it houses one slightly difficult and erratic bat patient – Daria.
Daria is suffering from an undisclosed illness. Apparently loathed by Jackie, she seems to have a particular interest in music as a means to her wellbeing.
The Winter update is the last introduction of characters that we get to Spiritfarer. And while the theme of loss and heartbreak runs rampant throughout the game, it’s the different characters and experiences that shape the overall message of the game. That each person’s story is unique and ultimately there’s no right way to say goodbye.
The team at Thunder Lotus have created a transformative experience on one of the hardest topics that a person will have to deal with. And they did it respectfully, immersively, interestingly and in a way that broke my heart but made me smile. Spiritfarer is a game unlike any other and I hope you took something away from the experience.