You had me at Stardew meets Spirited Away
Simulators are a huge part of the gaming industry, and they’ve especially been seeing some love for the past few years after the success of games like Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Stardew Valley. This year it seems like there are more sims than ever, and simulators are one of my all-time favorite gaming genres, so I’m over the moon about it. Out of all the trailers for simulators we’ve seen this year, one that caught my eye was Spirittea, which is being developed by Cheesemaster Games and published by No More Robots. The logline is that it’s Stardew meets Spirited Away, which was automatically enough to get me on board. I played the demo, and so far, things look pretty promising.
What’s Spirittea‘s premise?
It’s the classic moving-from-a-big-city-to-a-small-town story that community sims tend to have, only when you get there, you drink some special tea that allows you to see into the spirit world. Spooky! After drinking the tea, an adorable floating cat friend named Radish (how adorable!) comes to greet you, and tells you that you have been tasked with running the bathhouse on the mountain that has stood abandoned for years.
From there, most of the demo is your first day of working at the bathhouse, which leans heavily into management simulator territory. You are tasked with keeping the boiler full of fresh firewood to warm the bath water, washing and drying towels for the guests, showing guests to the bath, putting salts into the bath water… you get the idea. I used to play a lot of those Diner Dash beauty salon spinoffs on my iPod Touch back in the day, so it was pretty familiar territory there.
A relaxing management sim
There’s a mechanic in there too where each of the spirits that visits you corresponds with a season, and the spirits have a preference of where they sit in the bath (and who sits next to them) based on that season. It’s up to the player to figure out which season goes with which spirit and keep them happy according to their category. I didn’t have enough time to figure all of that out while playing the demo, but I know it’s an extra level of management sim challenge that I’ll be looking forward to contending with in the full game.
Spirittea also alludes to being able to purchase upgrades to make your bath-tending life easier, and I imagine those become pretty handy when there’s a lot of game left to explore. Outside of the bathhouse, there’s a whole, adorable little town to explore that’s full of townspeople. Unfortunately, none of them would talk to me during the demo because I had important bathhouse duties to tend to. That leaves yet another feature of Spirittea to look forward to, because making friends in community simulators is one of my favorite things about sims games.
Much more of Spirittea to look forward to!
I also have to mention the art and music — the whole time I was playing, I was bopping along to the soundtrack because it was just delightful. It fit the atmosphere perfectly, and it was catchy enough that I noticed I was enjoying it, but not so much that it was distracting. The pixel art was also gorgeous, and definitely had me looking forward to spending more time exploring the town and the surrounding area.
I still have a lot of questions about Spirittea, and the jury’s still out on whether it will fully scratch my Stardew itch, but from what I’ve seen so far, I’m excited to give the full game a shot once it’s out. All we have by way of a release date right now is a “Coming Soon” on the Steam page, so for now, it’ll just be sitting pretty on my wishlist.