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Tuesday, November 21, 2023 2:30:38 AM

Spirittea Review (someotherstorm)

While I really love this -- as in, it's all I did all weekend -- and expect it will continue to delight me, I do want to try and give a thorough review in case it's helpful. I absolutely LOVE the bathhouse mechanic, it's so satisfying and I love seating the little spirits and hurrying about with the towels. I even like the small little tasks you do to get ready and keep it going, and the upgrades for the bathhouse are really fun and attainable while still being a challenge to keep you engaged. As you can see, I've played 40 hours so I'm really into the game. I just have some suggestions for how it could be even BETTER.
I like the town and the characters, and there's a lot about the game's letting you just...figure things out that I appreciate, but it's not quite intuitive enough to do that in its early state, I think. (It's confusing to know which plants/flowers you can pick and which you can't, what to do with some of the items, that sort of thing.) While I really like this game and am adoring how easily it plays on the Steam Deck, there are a few quality of life improvements that would help IMHO:
1. The tools (thinking about the shovel/net/fishing rod/brooms in the bathhouse) can very easily be set down and left, since you have to equip it and use it and then put it back in the backpack, instead and you can't run with them, Having some kind of radial tool bar where it has a dedicated hotkey or something would really help, I think -- I've had to buy the shovel twice, because I put it down instead of back in my bag and ???
2. The way you have to shift items from your hand/bag/storage/fridge is a little clunky. Also, devs, please let items stack and be ordered!
3. When the bathhouse upgrades are being done, there's....not a lot to do. Villagers are fun to talk to, but i find i go to sleep pretty early because i just don't have enough to do. Filling the shrines is great, but it's not super difficult and other than cooking there's not a lot of crafting to do. I wish there was more, and that you had more to *do* outside of the bathhouse (I feel like this will happen later).
4. The minigames -- while I love the idea and find it really fun to have them, some of them don't really make a lot of sense. Fishing is frustrating until you figure out the mechanics, and even then, the timing is really frustrating with the seaweed catching your hook and by the time you get it free, the timer is up and no fish for you. Also it took me a bit to figure out to hold down B on the Deck for a long cast, i couldn't figure out why I wasn't able to cast into the ocean. The cooking minigame with the lettuce wrap is fun but the perimeters weren't really explained and that's another thing I'll get to, lack of a quest journal or a tutorial to revisit. I think I get it, but the meter when you're with another person is ??? I haven't done the drinking one because it's locked to a quest i have to finish with Leigh, but the karaoke game is mystifying. I know I get a few of the notes at LEAST and still get an F. (Does it take points away if you miss one? Who knows) And the songs are WAY TOO LONG -- there's only a few of them so far and they're difficult, boring, and just far too long. Bug catching is fine but every time I try and bring a villager along, the bugs are nowhere to be found?? I've seen someone else mention that too. But the karaoke game is the one that gives me fits -- look, I don't mind if you have to practice to get good, but it needs to be a little smoother of a rhythm game. Digging is very....clunky, because you have to figure out where to go and access maps through the pause screen, which is annoying.
4. The game is in desperate need of a quest log/journal/one central location for spirit info, recipes, maps, etc. The resources are confusing when it comes to what can be gathered and what has to be bought, and there just needs to be a little more time and attention here toward gameplay as a player, as someone who hasn't lived and breathed the game map and assets for however long. I had no idea you could take grass from that one plant by the beach, just like I had no idea you could pick up the brooms from the bathhouse to clean it. I don't mind discovering things on my own, but it's frustrating to have sixteen websites open. And oh my god, PLEASE, the letters you get in the mail? Can they not have the sender's NAME AT THE BOTTOM, those little pictures are so small it's impossible to tell who sent them. There's no labels on the map, and no hours on the store signs, which I think would also be helpful. like you should have at least ONE of those -- either on the map, or on a sign -- or have it under villager information. The notebook and pamphlet is fine, but switching is confusing and also it seems vital info is weirdly spread between the pause screen and the pamphlet/notebook and I would think all of that could be in one place?? But yeah not having names/labels/hours on the map or the actual places is a little confusing.
There's a couple other things -- the palette could be more vibrant, and it sure rains a lot -- but overall I really am enjoying this. I especially love the aspect of finding the lost ghosts and helping them, and the bathhouse is my favorite part (and I'm a fantasy novelist in real life, so that's fun!) and I know this is an indie game and i love that, i really enjoy playing this and even joined the discord. i think with some patches they'll be able to fix most of these issues, but please devs, that karaoke mini-game is giving me a rage blackout every time I play it, LOL. Also I know this might sound nit-picky but I swear it's only because I love the game and the idea of it so much that I'm leaving such a detailed review.
So yes, I recommend this as a game that gives cozy without being a farming sim, and the bathhouse is really fun to manage -- with a couple tweaks/patches i can see me playing this for a few hundred hours. I really do recommend it but keep in mind it's a new game from a small team, so it's going to have growing pains -- for me, those aren't enough to keep me from playing but I did want to share them.