Seeing a father in Spiritfarer.

Content notification on death.

When my dad passed away back in 2018, an emotional comet hit my life. While I’ll never stop missing him, I find solace from time to time. Spiritfarer, a game about death, loss, and coping with the calamity of it all, was bound to resonate. But I wasn’t expecting one particular character to feel this familiar.

Atul is a friendly frog with a big belly and a sweet nature. As soon as I first interacted with him, it was like having a lifeline to my dad. You see, my dad had a big belly and a sweet nature, too. As I spent more time with Atul, I came to see even more of my dad in him. He shows Stella, the game’s protagonist, how to catch lightning in a bottle during storms, while he accompanies the minigame dancing around in the rain and playing a jaunty flute tune. Moments like this reminded me of my dad and I playing together when I was little. Others, such as hugging Atul, were a way for me to hold dad, and be held, just once more.

As with reality, the joy is mixed with sadness. One quest, called “Movie Night,” tasks you with recreating Atul’s treasured movie nights with his family. But once the excitement for the idea fades away, all it does is make him miss them, wishing he “was still there”. That line broke me. I miss my dad. What if he misses me, too?

In the end, Atul disappears. There’s no goodbye sequence alike the rest of the characters. One day he’s just gone. My dad died suddenly, too, disappearing, just like his mother did when he was a child. None of this was fair. Savour the playtimes and the movie nights with your loves ones, before they leave through the Everdoor.

By Joe Chivers

Joe is an English Literature graduate and freelance games critic. He once wrote an essay about poststructuralism and Hotline Miami. Find him on Twitter @jchiverswriter

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