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I’m sorry, Spiritfarer. I never really gave you enough of a fighting chance, and you came back right when I needed you again. Consider this review my apology.
After playing through That Dragon, Cancer this summer, I realized that I wasn’t being fair to this genre of “games for impact.” We don’t all play games for the same reason. Sure, plenty of games market themselves as straight entertainment, played for pleasure and excitement. But there are games that aim to not necessarily be fun, but be compelling. Games that seek to provoke a wide range of emotions and questions rather than just provide means to an end.
Spiritfarer was one such title that I admit I originally approached with the wrong mindset. It did not do me any favors to rush through in order to complete the game on my limited PC Game Pass, or to try and move onto the next title on my growing backlog, because this is a game both about taking your time while making the most of every moment possible. I also found myself stymied by the supposedly “shallow” gameplay loop while also complaining about its excessive runtime. That’s why upon my second playthrough of Spiritfarer, finally buying my own copy on Steam, I found myself constantly surprised and overwhelmed that all of these preconceptions turned out to be wrong. It all starts by properly contextualizing Spiritfarer’s appeal and purpose.
Just like That Dragon, Cancer, Spiritfarer grapples with the omnipresence of death differently. Death may be a game mechanic, but it is not a punishment; rather, it is the final destination. Heavily inspired by Spirited Away’s hotel for spirits, Spiritfarer tackles one important question; what if we didn’t fear death as much? As part of the Death Positivity movement, the game encourages its players to think of death as more than just a mechanism or taboo subject, and to have healthy and open conversations as to speak more freely regarding all the consequences and feelings surrounding it. To better handle its subject matter, Thunder Lotus focuses the gameplay loop on preparing you to care for souls at the end of their lives as well as the various processes associated with the cycle of grief.
As the newly dubbed Spiritfarer, the player character as Stella must find lone spirits scattered across the vast seas, and handle their final requests. These requests can range from a variety of fetch quests, to constructing little homes and decorations for them, to feeding them their favorite meals and handling their last regrets and affairs with other characters. As a backbone for this request structure, Stella must construct other various facilities and travel to other locales to gather resources and both upgrade the ship and gain new abilities to access new events. Once these last requests have been fulfilled, the spirit will ask to be taken away to the Everdoor, and pass on to the afterlife.
One particular complaint kept popping up in the back of my mind as I kept fulfilling my duties. A year ago, a close friend and I had a discussion regarding Spiritfarer, where he complained that Spiritfarer didn’t feel cozy at all. If anything, he felt pressured and constantly anxious that there was always something more to do. There were new crops to tend to, or more ore to smelt, or more fish to find and more dishes to cook, and so on so forth. I certainly related to his dilemma; in fact, during quiescent nights where I had the option to go to sleep to start a new day, I often found myself cleaning up my remaining tasks and frantically checking my stockpiles to see if anything else had to be worked on. I simply could not afford to lose time; if daytime was the only acceptable time to travel in order to explore new islands, then even my nighttime had to be optimized to fulfill my obligations and stay “on schedule.”
It was then that I realized, that there was a method to Spiritfarer’s madness. This constant state of scrambling and juggling tasks to keep everyone happy that had made me feel so uncomfortable… was the same exact state taken on by those in palliative care. Moreover, it was the same feeling that my family had experienced when taking care of my grandmother and grandfather on my mother’s side during their last years. They were often fickle with exactly what had to be done; sometimes, I didn’t know if they even knew what they really wanted. We often left my grandma’s apartment with this sense of restlessness that kept us up at night, unsure if there was even anything left we could do to ease their final moments. It was this delicate but never-ending push and pull that we had become so accustomed to, that I had almost forgotten the sensation after my grandma left us in March 2020. I can sincerely say that no other video game I have ever played has forced me to reconfront my feelings and memories from back then… and I can’t help but respect Thunder Lotus for the audacity to not only address it, but also impart those feelings so effectively through gameplay as an compelling example of player perspective.
To Spiritfarer’s credit, I later came to understand that this sense of coziness is not lost at all, because there are plenty of surrounding elements that alleviate this heaviness. The art style, as well as the color palette, is a key factor; the graphics are heavily influenced by the Japanese woodblock painter Hiroshi Yoshida, which the lead artist stated as “bringing [her] serenity.” That tranquility and desire to explore the landscape was a key motivation behind the lush and vibrant environments of Spiritfarer, combined with the use of soft pastels and a lack of the color “black;” darkness is instead communicated through softer alternatives such as dark reds, blues, and greys. It’s not without its use of contrast either (see: Bruce and Mickey’s “McMansion” of clashing red and white), which both allows the game to express more clearly express character personalities while providing the opportunity to allow for the player to experience “negative feelings” such as sadness in a softer environment. Finally, Spiritfarer’s fluid hand-drawn animation also breathes life into its many characters while promoting mobility through Spiritfarer’s expressive gameplay.
Spiritfarer also shows further care in establishing mood and ambience as to gently tuck players into an emotional experience outside of the art style. Firstly, Max LL’s accompanying soundtrack appropriately imparts moods without the need for excessive flair and gusto. Simple piano, string, and flute melodies provide ambient backdrops in tunes such as At Sea or At Night. More exotic instruments play important parts in tracks such as Furogawa to convey curiosity, or more upbeat pieces such as Hummingberg excite players into romping around the island to soak in the sights. Then, you’ve got your frenetic such as Freeing the Dragon and Pulsar Pursuit to spur the player into action and snag as many timed collectibles as possible to assuage the spirits’ wants and fears. Finally, epics such as Last Voyage convey emotional upwellings through volume swells while establishing a sensation of finality to bring journeys to a close. Honestly, I couldn’t have asked for a more fitting soundtrack to instill a sense of adventure for Spiritfarer while appropriately illustrating more thoughtful moods along the way.
Secondly, while many post-death games are often filled with hostile and frightening creatures, Spiritfarer instead chooses to surround the player with friendly and welcoming personalities. Of course, there’s the spirits themselves; while some spirits can initially come off as aloof or even acerbic and uncompromising at times, you soon get to learn more about their backstories and interests that allow you to warm up and celebrate with them. Around the vast expanses of Spiritfarer are also many sea creatures and island inhabitants that are sincerely interested in you, with many going out of their way to help you in your role of caring for your friends. There’s also a lot of silly “dumb” jokes and melancholy humor across many of these characters to poke light fun at the world they live in and the situations that Stella finds herself in, all while providing a welcome distraction when juxtaposed with the emotional subject matter of the game itself.
Further adding to this coziness is the lack of a permanent “fail-state” within Spiritfarer. There’s no way to reach a “game-over” screen or enter a state where the player is directly punished for errors. For example, mining requires a specific timing of holding down and releasing the X button, but holding for too long doesn’t lead to negative consequences such as losing resources or health. Rather, you receive a cutely animated sequence where Stella accidentally drops her pickaxe and glances back at what happens, before she picks up the pickaxe again with a smile on her face. It’s like the game is gently encouraging you to try again; sure, you didn’t play optimally and messed up your timing, but it’s okay, for you can always give it another go. Vice versa, you’re also rewarded for playing well due to the ability to save time from optional animations and the potential to gain additional resources (i.e. cutting planks strictly by the lines gets you double the amount of planks you would have gained otherwise), but failure in these cases is not so much a permanent setback, but rather a delayed success.
Similarly, this “feeling” of failure translates to the spirits themselves. If the spirits aren’t fed properly, they will complain to Stella and have lowered mood. Again, this isn’t a permanent setback, because this mood can be risen by feeding them their favorite dishes and hugging them. Of course, there are visible consequences here to playing “well;” happy and ecstatic characters will often aid Stella by playing music to make other characters happier as well, or participate in the ship’s tasks by giving you valuable resources (raw ingredients, ingots, dishes, luxury sellables, etc). Most importantly though, these characters feel alive, both because of their written design/stories (often heavily based off the development team’s friends and families, resulting in a lot of personal investment) and because the gameplay loop of performing their last rites and caring for them creates attachment; you get to learn their histories a bit better based off the stories they tell you as they request specific chores that reflect upon their quirks and personalities.
As a result, I found Spiritfarer’s gameplay loop engaging due to its great emotional investment; not only does it give you just enough time to grow attached to spirits before sending them off, it also emulates aspects of grieving extremely well in a video game setting. For example, as characters finally depart for the Everdoor, all other characters on the ship will gather around the departing rowboat to say their farewells, similar to how friends and family surround loved ones on their deathbeds. Another example of this occurs during scripted resource gathering events scattered across the map; you would typically need to speak to a specific spirit to begin the event, but once that character has departed, Stella must instead start the event from the departed spirit’s door. This connection, as well as the inability to remove the deceased spirit’s former house (now analogous to that of a tombstone), constantly reminds the player of the experiences and memories of those who have moved on, and emulates the process of revisiting final resting places or old ramblings of deceased loved ones. Thus, Spiritfarer thoughtfully embeds traces of former spirits to instill both metaphorical meaning and surface meaning that their lives will forever remain with you. By constantly exposing the player to so many different spirits and their transitory stays, Thunder Lotus is able to properly guide players to express these healthy mechanisms that come with loss.
As a related aside, Spiritfarer, similarly to That Dragon, Cancer, utilizes the medium’s ability to capture specific instances to allow players to properly adjust for events in-game. We’ve already talked about the game’s leniency with regards to its fail-states, since every “negative” externality can be quickly superseded with the proper actions; as a result, there are no lasting consequences to playing at your own pace and no real “wrong” choices to be made. However, Spiritfarer also creates opportunities to let the player soak in emotionally-heavy moments without the passage of time interfering, such as the Everdoor scenes. Here, the player can reflect in this frozen moment in ludic space and take all the time they need to absorb the reality of the situation. But as with That Dragon, Cancer, the player must eventually progress and move on, just like real life.
My prior emphasis upon this emotional attachment to characters through the busying gameplay loop might imply that the game itself is mechanically lacking… but I honestly don’t believe that's true. Spiritfarer controls extremely well, especially for a game where the emphasis isn’t necessarily precision platforming. By the end of the game, you’ve got expanded abilities to double jump, mid-air dash, float, and cling to ziplines to quickly zoom up and down and build up momentum. These movement options are further aided by the everchanging landscape of the ship itself, which naturally evolves over time, both from a want to create more aesthetically pleasing or simple to navigate structures, and from a need to construct additional facilities for resource gathering/housing spirits. Furthermore, this structure serves an important purpose, not just as a playground where Stella can bounce and run around, but also as the main stage where resource gather events at sea take place, and Stella must quickly move around the ship to snatch as many collectibles as possible before time runs out. Finally, traversing the expanding ship can be aided by constructing optional devices such as bouncy umbrellas or air-draft machines, should raw jumping on top of houses not suffice enough for clean movement. As such, these movement mechanics and design opportunities provide welcome outlets for creative expression and player agency, which contrasts nicely with the lack of control that often comes attached to games about death.
Finally, there’s a real sense of progression to be found in Spiritfarer, when compared to other “artistic” and emotional indie titles such as Sea of Solitude. As mentioned prior, the ability to unlock new movement options by visiting shrines help keep the player advancing to the next stage, whether it be a signified by an out-of-reach chest or a traversable element such as an air current that you don’t have the movement tech to exploit. Moreover, these upgrades require obols (which are usually given to the player when new spirits come aboard), just as the ship upgrades that allow you to travel to new areas require Spirit Flowers that are left behind from a spirit’s passing. As a result, the personal investment from meeting and saying good-bye to spirits is matched by the extrinsic investment gained from interacting with the spirits, resulting in a powerful marrying of storytelling and gameplay mechanics. By progressing the story, the player is in turn rewarded with new areas, abilities, and accessories to create further opportunities of discovery and novelty.
That said, there are a few other nitpicks regarding certain aspects of Spiritfarer’s design, such as moments of less focused dialogue writing. Spirits will often run out of things to say, and that might limit interaction on the ships outside of jobs to scant bumps where they tell you they’re hungry, especially when you’re super busy micromanaging other tasks. This honestly doesn’t bother me as much as before (since we as humans will inevitably run out of interesting things to say); however, it is a bit more annoying speaking with non-spirit NPCs and either getting “trapped” in several lines where I had to mash X to move on, or being confronted with terse and meaningless scripts where the NPC would continually parrot some variation of “Hello. Leave me alone now.” This wouldn’t be as problematic if I didn’t feel the need to speak with every generic NPC to try and fulfill the requirement, since the “correct” NPC is not marked.
While I did find the gameplay loop much more palatable upon my second playthrough, I do agree that it’s easy to feel as if there’s a bit of padding near the end of the game as well. By this time, most of the spirits have departed your ship, and it’ll probably be down to Stella and a few remaining hardy spirits to pick up the pieces. It can definitely feel a bit lonely and out of place having to finish the remainder of Stella’s backstory with little spirit interaction in the last few hours. To its credit, Spiritfarer remedies this somewhat by finally allowing you to travel at night to quickly sweep up the story if you so desire, and with most bus stations unlocked and most speed upgrades having been fulfilled at this point, it’s not too arduous of a task. I do wish that there was a way to speed up time in Spiritfarer’s endgame though, since the backstory can only really be accomplished at night. As mentioned prior, you can fall asleep to skip nighttime and proceed with daytime events, so it is a little ironic that Spiritfarer’s endgame suffers from the exact opposite problem of running out of things to do in the day and lacking an analogous mechanism to get right back to the story at night.
I’m willing to look past these minor issues and more though, because ultimately those shortcomings end up making the game feel more human somehow. I tend to be a completionist at heart, wanting to 100% every experience and see everything there is to see. But I had to throw away that mentality and go against all my previous instincts, because Spiritfarer is a game about brevity.
While in the video game space, the developers have provided enough opportunities to artificially extent deadlines when so desired, it is Spiritfarer’s impermanence that makes its experiences so fruitful. I didn’t have enough time to learn every single detail about all the spirits, nor am I sure that the spirits were necessarily prepared to spill their entire life story in a single sitting to someone whom they had just met. Similarly, this experience’s meaning would be greatly diminished if you just let it stretch on to infinity and beyond. You most likely won’t have the time to finish every single task or close every loop… and that’s okay too.
Ultimately, while it can feel off-putting to some that characters can seem inscrutable to some degree (which may urge players to seek additional details on a wiki or in the Spiritfarer Artbook), I found myself content with what I knew. The condensed experiences that I had with these characters more than moved me upon my journey, and in fact put me in a headspace where I constantly found myself translating these experiences to my real life. Atul made me wonder if I really got to know my deceased relatives and friends well enough. Gustav left me contemplative regarding humanity’s eternal struggle with meaning. Stanley left my heart broken that innocence, while powerful, was just as fleeting as life itself. And Alice’s story left me speechless and frightened, because I saw signs of my grandmother within her.
That was, until Christmas night, when my dad received the call that my grandma on my father’s side had suffered a stroke. How bitterly ironic that the exact moment as I finished my second playthrough, my grandmother was left in a coma and I’d be forced to recontextualize my experiences once again. I knew that playing Spiritfarer would prepare me for this… but I wasn’t prepared for it to be this soon.
Had these lessons imparted upon me not meant anything? Sure, Spiritfarer is a game about dying… but it is also a game about living with death. Honor those who have moved on, so that you make the most of every moment with those who are still here. I hadn’t gotten the chance to see my grandma since a family vacation right before the 2020 outbreak, and I was hoping that someday, I’d get the chance to make it up to her. Now, I might not even get that chance. What could I even do at this point? Was my best not good enough anymore? Was my time spent all for naught?
I don’t really know. I spent a couple of days agonizing over my inability, my words feeling empty and my actions feeling directionless. I’m still waiting, because at this point, that’s all I have left.
But I’d like to think that my time wasn’t wasted. I don’t wish to make the same mistakes again… even if it might be too late this time. I think a game that’s willing to be as boldly emotionally vulnerable as Spiritfarer, despite all its potential pacing and mechanical issues, is something that has to be shared and treasured regardless of consequences. We can’t let trivial issues stop us from discussing that which is feared to be discussed, because we don’t have all the time in the world to pretend that everything’s okay. We wouldn’t improve if we never erred, and even if some missteps can’t be taken back… at least we can try to stop others from following our paths by connecting and sharing stories, right?
I can’t deny that Spiritfarer might not have hit me as hard the second time had these unfortunate events not occurred almost immediately after finishing. But I also can’t deny that Spiritfarer’s narrative power is the reason why I will always associate this game with everything that’s happened, nor can I think of any game that would have better prepared me for this moment and left such an impact upon me than Spiritfarer. Regardless of any gripes I may have had, this game is now a part of me, and I’m honestly not sure if I would change anything that I had experienced, lest I somehow forget about everything I strove to become moving forward.
So, let me leave you with these final thoughts of what I learned from Spiritfarer.
Grief is not a wave; it is an ocean. Every time you glance at it from a distance, you think you’ll be ready, but then it hits you, and you’re still not ready. As it washes over you, you start to wonder what it’s like to drown. Just to linger in that space a little longer, and try and lose yourself again in that gap in time where there was, before there wasn’t.
But there is nothing deep about drowning. Ultimately, we must carry on, for just as life has no meaning without death, those who pass on have no meaning without those who remain. Your ship will keep getting rocked by tide after tide, storm after storm, and you still might not be ready by the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or however many waves hit you over and over. Nevertheless, you learn to navigate the waters a little better each time. There’s nothing wrong with getting seasick, but that doesn’t mean you have to drown.
Love is watching someone die. But love is so much more than that too. Love is a balancing act between letting others in and watching them leave. Love is living every day like it’s your last, but realizing it’s okay to forget about life too. Love is learning to accept everything about us: the pleasures, the turmoil, the fallacies, all of it. Love is preparing for the inevitable, but also savoring the ephemeral.

Love… is letting go.
Sources referenced:
Representation of Death in Independent Videogames: Providing a Space for Meaningful Death Reflection
Spiritfarer And Death Positivity
Corporate Intervention In Video Games
(also please see Fudj's separate review of Spiritfarer on this site, as I find that it effectively communicates many of its strengths and provided motivation to write this up)
Spiritfarer Explained: Letting Go Is Everything
Mindful Games: Spiritfarer
Spiritfarer Documentary: A Game About Dying
Healing Together on Discord: The Spiritfarer Community
Zero Punctuation: Spiritfarer
Spiritfarer's Art Book: Can be found here or purchased as part of Farewell Editions or separately on GOG/Steam.

This has to be in the top 5 most interesting games I've ever played. Not for the gameplay or even the story, but just for the feel of the whole thing. Everything is slapdash and weird; it's like the games' seams are showing on purpose. The dialogue is fun and snarky, the levels are more engaging than I initially thought they'd be, and there are some legitimate emotional moments packed in there.
I was looking forward to 100%ing this, unfortunately I was having trouble getting certain events to occur, so I gave up on that. It's a shame, I definitely wanted to spend more time with this weird world.
In the end though, the standout aspect of this game is the soundtrack, which anyone who knows this game talks about. It really is great; I recommend listening to it if you don't feel like playing this.
I'll miss this game

The melancholy plot and spectacular Yoko Kanno soundtrack elevate this game above the average 2.5D platformer of it's era, into something truly special.

Every now and then I play a fairly old game that retroactively makes decades-worth of titles that came later within the same classification a little less impressive - that they're just not being very ambitious by comparison.
Napple Tale does and accomplishes SO MUCH despite being built on top of a relatively clunky foundation of iffy platforming. Radiant and imaginative and emotionally charged and I just adored it. Thank you Yoko Kanno for the new favourite soundtrack

One of few games that manages to overcome any cynicism and let you simply indulge in its entirety. It may not be perfect or anything, but Napple Tale doesn't have to be. Purity is something that our mean-spirited industry can only use more of, so I think a few more of these couldn't hurt. It says something that on a console defined by ambitious genre-defying gems, this relatively basic little 3D platformer manages to stick out in the way it does.
When you play a game like this, the part of your brain that let's you rationalize what you just played goes off. Instead, all you can think about is how wonderful the experience was. Even if you can't make out the details, you'll always remember how it made you feel. Almost like a forgotten dream, floating in the wind...

What the fuck, this isn't Nights Into DreamsTM

There's way too much for me to say about this game, so I'll try to summarize things.
This game is easily the best game I've ever played, and I know I share that opinion with lots of others. I bought it 4 years ago very impulsively, but I have 0 regrets. Every minute of time I've spent in this game's beautiful open-world has not gone to waste. There's so much to do in the game, and it provides you with all the freedom you could ever ask for (once you leave the great plateau, that is.) You could play through the game's incredibly well-crafted story, or you could rush straight to the final boss of the game; the world is your oyster.
I could ramble on and on about the game, but I won't. I believe this is an absolute must play for any gamer. Going into the game blind was easily the best gaming experience of my life, and I have no doubt that it can make you feel the same.

This game is to GoW2018 as Gow2 is to Gow1.
Despite the UI looking like shit, the pacing being really off sometimes and having the true GoW tradition where all of the finale bosses are kinda meh; this is probably the best in terms of AAA cinematic games in my eyes, and I don't think any other game will reach the heights this game has.
This is not only a fantastic way to end Krato's story, but just a great story too; like I shouldn't be surprised that a game with millions of dollars has good written and characters but the last time I can think of a AAA game with a great story is RDR2 (Psychonauts 2 maybe?????). Yeah most of these types of AAA games are just movies but 10 times longer and normally have worse writing, and they don't really take that much of an advantage of the medium it's in other than telling the player to "do this" or "kill that to progress the story", but I feel like Ragnarok drives this fine line in between that, it slips up every now but overall it's a really well written and acted game.
I feel like I should be more cynical towards games like these since this game does have a LOT of tropes that are in almost every AAA game has now and is slowly killing it; but idk if it's because of my attachment to this series or just my overall enjoyment of the game but I can't hate this game
in my eyes it is the best way to approach a "AAA cinematic game"
The gameplay is also sooooo much smoother. I still prefer the combat of the Greek Sega but it's still pretty fun here.
I don't have anything else to say other than I'm glad the last game I'm playing this year actually meat my actually met my expectations and then some.

I knew from inescapable reputation that Rondo was the one where Castlevania first dipped into Full Anime for its style of presentation, but nobody had prepared me for the fact that this is not the the Dragon Ball ass Slam Dunk ass 90s shonen extreme hard shit jump treatment I was expecting. Rather Rondo of Blood swerves hard into shoujo aesthetics and this is endlessly infinitely more delightful to me as someone who likes that side of the industry way more and as an American has to work harder to find my shit a lot of the time.
It would be easy to say that Rondo is just giving Sailor Moon, specifically its anime adaptation, and that’s not NOT true. You can hear it in the ethereal jazz pop of most of the arrangements, you can see it in the way characters are framed and in the intense and bright color choices used in the cutscenes, you can see it in the shape of Richter’s face even. But there are details all over these cutscenes and voice performances and castle designs and everything that harken not only to Takahashi’s 90s behemoth but as far back as stuff like Rose of Versailles and Moto Hagio’s European-set works. The VIBE is just more akin to the DRAMA and INTENSITY and FORCE of classic shoujo, where feeling is empowerment but not the same as power, and tragedy mars beauty around every corner. Really unexpected, really delightful.
Delightful is the name of the game, and it’s so so cool to see that of the three main branches of sixteen bit Castlevania, each of the first two have sought to be radically different visions of what the franchise could evolve to be and both are equally exciting and worthwhile. Rondo is not quite as immediately game changing as Super IV; in terms of game feel it’s much closer to tradition, but it starts to differentiate itself i subtle ways. Unlike the NES games you do get a LITTLE leeway midair in jump control, and Richter Belmont can execute a sick backflip in midair from a flat jump. He can’t whip in all directions or swing around but he DOES have fuck off stupid super moves tied to his subweapons. These things are really important because while otherwise the player is as slow and tanky as they’ve ever been in Castlevania (and without any of the slick movement or combat options that other characters afforded in Dracula’s Curse), enemies are way more fast and maneuverable and generally aggressive. If the axe knights on the NES used to throw one or two axes at a time, now they throw three or four and toss out a vertical throw just like you do in the middle of it, and you can’t dodge it anymore. Spear skeletons stab through the floor layers, they’re assholes! It makes for easily the hardest game in the series so far and I had a much harder time getting a handle on it, my longest runtime and most deaths for sure. You NEED that backflip and those special moves to keep pace. It’s not an unfair challenge though, nor unbalanced, and the ever-present infinite continues and generous checkpointing of the series are welcome as ever. Unlike a lot of its peers and despite its appearances Castlevania never wants you to fail.
The appearances are sick tho. The game is absolutely gorgeous, top to bottom, some of the slickest uses of parallax layers I’ve ever seen. Full of little touches. Every boss has a little intro cutscene that happens during gameplay where they come in from the background element. You’re revisiting locations from past games, even Simon’s Quest! Flames look bright, spirits look properly ghostly, dungeons look dingy, you only see that the boss who chases you through that one level is just a torso if you let him catch up enough to fully enter the screen. It’s so cool, a game that really never stops giving.
And there’s Maria!! An entire second character who plays completely differently and is so fun and cool! She’s also hilarious, nobody in this game knows what to do with her. She gets the same like morale-breaking speech from Dracula that Richter does in the ending but she’s like eight years old and a badass so she’s like shut the fuck up Dracula you loser and he’s just like yeah fair enough I guess you’re not a weenie like Richter. I love her she’s so fuckin sick dude make Maria the Star these Belmont guys all suck ass and fail constantly. I don’t think Richter even kills Dracula in this ending?? Kind of hard to tell???? I’m not sure if I just can’t read the cutscene or if it’s ambiguous on purpose or I’m supposed to understand that he got away. I guess Symphony is a sequel to this one and I’ll find out in a couple games.
Regardless I get it I’m on board I’m not gonna be a contrarian here dude Rondo is sick as fuck just a rowdy ass game, good ass time, every five minutes I saw something that had me hooting and hollering. This is gaming for real, doesn’t get any better than this.

I think this game is underrated. I think this game is a buggy frustrating mess but I also think it is the current pinnacle of first person space real time strategy role playing games. There are very few games that scratch the itch that this game scratches and even fewer that are designed to be played in single player.
- Frustratingly long grind
- Euphoric levels of rewards
- Buggy and broken AI that fails to function 10-20% of the time
- A simplistic but easy to learn UI
- Player control of the smallest and largest ships in the game
- Endless possibilites (provided you are willing to invest 100+ hours into them)
- A large open map full of derelect ships, loot caches, and lock boxes
- Mushroom Hunting in the Forest (Crystal Mining in the asteroids)
- Clunky and unintuitive management controls
- Hard but very engaging combat
- OG Minecraft tutorial design (wiki and youtube lol)
- Dope ship designs
- Dope modding scene
- A universe that feels full of life but also completely lifeless
A very specific kind of person will like this game. I would argue that 80-90% of people who read this review probably think they are that person and are wrong. This is not to gatekeep the game but just do your research and understand what you are getting into before you purchase this game. It will take at a minimum 8 hours to get your bearings and figure out how to do the basics. After that it will take dozens of hours of grinding to really make a name for yourself in the universe and after that it will take even more hours before you even get in a position where you can think about building the largest ships in the game. It is awesome and a brutal experience all at the same time. I cannot wait to get back into the game and spend 4 hours just getting a mining ship outfitted and automated.