If Stardew Valley took place in a world not dissimilar to the classic Studio Ghibli animated movie Spirited Away, I’d imagine it would look something like this promising new life/management sim RPG. Spirittea launches on November 13 for Xbox Series X, Xbox One, Game Pass, Nintendo Switch, and PC via Steam.
Spirittea has been on our upcoming indie games radar for a while now, and for darn good reason. Mike Rose, founder of publisher No More Robots, describes it as “Stardew Valley crossed with Spirited Away,” and “an RPG where you help spirits, then invite them to soak away their worries at your bathhouse.” Frankly, that might be the most compelling elevator pitch I’ve ever heard.
The story follows a writer who, in classic writer fashion, ditches the city and moves to the countryside for some peace and quiet and hopefully, inspiration for their next novel. Also in classic writer fashion, the player character drinks some magic tea and starts seeing trouble-making spirits crossing over into normal reality. It’s your job to appease these wily wraiths by cooking up spicy noodles, finding their lost treasure, or just providing the ultimate bathhouse experience.
I forgot to mention, you also run a bathhouse in Spirittea, which is where the management sim element comes in. You’ll have to clean towels, chop wood to heat the baths to just the right temperature, make delicious food from your kitchen, and ensure all of your phantom patrons are seated next to their friends – and not enemies – if you mean to succeed. “Each spirit has their own preferences so you’ll need to get to know them all and upgrade the bathhouse to become the best bathhouse keeper around,” says studio Cheesemaster Games.
While that sounds like a lot of work, you’ll have plenty of free time to take up various hobbies like bug catching and karaoke for when you need to unwind, and doing the right hobbies with their associated villagers will boost and evolve your relationships with the townsfolk.
I won’t lie, as much as I’m a fan of cozy games, I’m growing just the slightest bit weary of the seemingly relentless onslaught of games like Stardew Valley, and yet Spirittea has my full attention thanks to a unique cultural twist on the genre, just a dash of spookiness with the whole spirit element, and the addition of management simulation in the bathhouse. I’m all in for Spirittea, I just wish I knew why it was called Spirittea.