At its core, Spiritfall Early Access is a game that seems to hold great reverence for animals. Many of the enemies have a familiar animalistic look to them, whilst still feeling otherworldly. The Divine Spirits that preside over the world are also all based on animals, although each is imbued with different elemental powers.
These different elements come into play when the protagonist, the Omenforged, is introduced into the world. Chosen as a vessel by the Perennial Flame, the Omenforged is given a mask by the Divine Spirits. This mask holds the key to restoring their power, diminished as it is. To restore power, the player must fight through dangerous regions full of a multitude of enemies. To bolster a run, resources, items, and blessings, both permanent and temporary, can be collected.
Each blessing is a buff to the basic movement, attacks, and attributes the Omenforged has. By encountering the ice bear Mishved, attacks will inflict freezing damage. Come across the nature stag Sharbora, and restoration items will be more effective. This is a simplified example of just one aspect of each Spirit, but you get the picture.
Resource collection plays a big part too in Spiritfall Early Access. Though a select few items, weapons can be forged and upgraded, ordinances can be enacted and Spirit skills can be improved. All being said, this combines to give a nice sense of persistent progression.
It’s all in the details
All the Divine Spirits are exquisitely detailed, appearing every time a new blessing is chosen. They have a strangely neon glow to them, something I think is very fitting of Divine entities. They also have foreboding statues in the Sanctum, watching over the Omenforged as they are reborn after each failed run.
In fact, everything about this game works for me visually. From the dusty Sanctum to the detailed enemies, it’s apparent time has been spent perfecting the artwork.
The gameplay is also excellent. The Omenforged is very agile, and combining attacks to defeat the hordes of enemies is very satisfying. Swinging a club, or wielding a bow, the combat reminds me of something like a party brawler such as Smash Bros. There are even rooms that are dedicated to a timed battle, with the aim to launch your opponent off the geometry and into oblivion.
What’s not to roguelike
As a roguelike, there’s a fair bit of content available to play through. The variety of enemies, even early on, keeps it fresh. They may only be a few completely different enemies in the game, but there are plenty of variations of said enemies. This keeps each run challenging. There is a slight lack of content, but it was released with a road map already planned.
Sadly, as a roguelike, it fails to capture my attention for long. This isn’t a particular fault with Spiritfall, but rather the genre of the game itself. I feel the industry is so rammed full with this type of gameplay, I’m starting to feel fatigued by it. To the point where I almost immediately disregard any Roguelike game.
I find playing the same few levels repeatedly to be frustrating, especially if a randomly brutal stage completely ruins a run. Objectively, this isn’t a direct criticism of Spiritfall. It stands out from the crowd thanks to some slick, responsive movement and truly beautiful artwork. It’s definitely a game I keep coming back to, fighting my way through a few runs at a time.
The road ahead
As for the early access road map, there is several months’ worth of updates planned. Each one is named, teasing at the contents of the update.
- Spiritforged, out in May 2023, features new weapons, and spirit skins.
- The Frigid Veil, out June 2023, introduces a new region and a new boss.
- Finally, Herald of Darkness, out July 2023, brings a new spirit and a new weapon.
Obviously, all of this is subject to change but a pretty substantial road map is laid out for the future.
Overall, Spiritfall does well to beat back its contemporaries. It combines enough gameplay mechanics to feel fresh, without becoming too overwhelming or muddled. The game also seems pretty devoid of bugs, which is a great start for early access. It also plays well on Steam Deck, which is the platform I played most on.
Thanks for reading through this review of Spiritfall Early Access. If you want to watch the video version then check out the video below!
Disclaimer: A code was provided for this game to aid in writing this review.