Spirittea is an exciting solo endeavour by game developer Cheesemaster Games and is published by No More Robots. The game released on November 13, 2023 to PC, Game Pass and Nintendo Switch. A few days after the game launched, the founder of the publishing company No More Robots posted a thread on X (formerly Twitter) that ruffled more than a few feathers in the game development and content creation communities.
Enlightenment through Spirit-uali-Tea
Spirittea is a life simulation game that I have already personally sunk more than 10 hours into. Slide into the role of a writer in desperate need of inspiration for their next book. You move to a sleepy little town to get away from the hustle and bustle of the big city. Pet dogs, chase critters and steal people’s belongings in this cozy game. The game suggests that you use a controller to play and it is how I have spent my time in the game. Personally my favourite villager is Jan; let us know in the comments who your favourite is!
Your story begins at a bus stop in an undisclosed location. After creating your character, you take a bus ride through a beautiful countryside until you reach the town that you will be calling home (and whatever else you might like, since you get to name it). You arrive at the town at night, and are brought to your house by one of the residents of the town. She lets you know that there are some strange, unexplained things happening in the town but is quick to reassure you that it is nothing to worry about. After entering your home and drinking a cup of tea from an old tea set that came with the house you start to… see things.
The first one of those things you see is Wonyan, a cat like spirit who was a companion to the person who used to live in your house. Wonyan tells you that the unexplained happenings in town are likely the handiwork of other displaced and disgruntled spirits. They explain that the previous person they were companion to kept the bathhouse running at the top of the hill in town. Spirits gathered there to bathe and socialize and most importantly, stay out of trouble and away from the locals! It’s now your responsibility to take up the mantle of repairing and running the abandoned, run down bathhouse. In doing so you’ll help out not only the spirits, but the innocent townsfolk who get caught in the crossfire. You’ll also make a pretty penny to boot!
Spilling the Tea
The game proclaims that it is inspired by Stardew Valley, a well known and beloved indie game about starting over in a small town. Spirittea heavily focuses on the relationships with the NPCs and helping the townsfolk is actually part of the game progression. Through a series of clever puzzles you’ll befriend the lovely people in the town as well as uncover the mysteries surrounding the spirits causing mishap!
One of my favourite things that Spirittea adds to the genre is how you increase your friendship with people. There are a number of minigames and activities that you can do with the NPCs. My favourite one is the cooking minigame where you prepare and eat food together. The hardest one for me is the karaoke because my timing and hand-eye coordination aren’t the greatest.
Graphics & Audio
The pixel art in this game is stunning. It does a great job of conveying the sense of scale in the game. One of my absolute favourite things about the pixel art in this game is all of the animated sprites. They are abundant in the overworld which is common for most games, but what surprised me the most was how much was animated in the menus. It helps make the world feel that much more alive. The character sprites and portraits are wonderfully designed and expressive.
I am a big fan of the environmental sound effects in the game. They create a very immersive and calming experience. Some of the menu sound effects become repetitive. The first song I heard in the game evoked feelings of hopefulness. The soundtrack added a wonderful sense of familiarity, and is something that I’d gladly listen to again and again.
I’ve already sunk so much time into this game, and I’m only on the fourth chapter according to the game. I have been struggling to finish writing this article because I keep wanting to play the game! It’s a fun blend of bathhouse management, building relationships and decorating your house as well as the bathhouse.
Spirittea has been an absolutely delightful experience. Though it may take inspiration from Stardew Valley, it has a very different feel to it. It is a well-paced game with an enjoyable gameplay loop. The art and music are wonderful additions to the game that help to immerse you in the game. For these reasons, I’m awarding Spirittea Thumb Culture’s Gold Award. This is a very cozy game, and if that is a genre that you’re interested in, definitely give this game a shot. If you enjoyed this review, why not check out this article about Moonstone Island, another cozy game.
Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.