Spirits of Spring 1

Mindless video games where players shoot at everything in sight and don’t look back are loads of fun, but games that have a subtle message can be just as fun if they are done right.

Spirits of Spring is an adventure game that explores the notion of loyalty, friendship, and understanding. It also points out just how terrible bullying can be and how it affects victims. We’ve got a game review of Spirits of Spring for you today.

Design

Players embark on a walking adventure that takes place in a magical land where it is always springtime. The story’s protagonist, Chiwatin, must find out why the magical trees are dying and turning his land into permanent winter. At the same time, Chiwatin must help his friends, avoid being attacked by mysterious crows, and struggle not to turn into a crow himself.

The game takes place from a skewed top-down view. Similar to a point-and-click adventure, players touch and hold a finger on the screen where they want the character to move. Even though it seems like an expansive and explorative world, players are guided along the correct path by subtle obstacles like tree lines or cliffs.

Players collect magic from flowers by walking up to them. As you collect magic, you’ll develop a trail of dots. These dots can be used to extend your reach or create bridges across the water. The more magic you store, the further your reach will go.

The dots are also used to restore magic to dying trees. The trees are what keep the area in perpetual springtime. When they die, the land around them turns icy and cold.

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Gameplay

Although the game has a few typical mechanics, it is heavily based on the story that unfolds. You won’t be choosing your own adventure, but you will learn what it is like to be constantly under attack, to the point at which you start to feel like attacking yourself.

Part of the goal is to restore the magical trees to life and bring springtime back to the land. Another part is to find the crows and stop them from destroying the trees.

Chiwatin is a bit clumsy and tends to fall over while he is running. You’ll notice times when he looses his footing and tumbles over. The crows notice this too, and think it is funny to scare him and make fun of him.

As the game progresses, the crows get meaner. Chiwatin must decide whether to take advice from a mischievous fox or take the higher ground and not give in to his anger. We all know what anger leads to.

The game will automatically save at various checkpoints. If you leave the game, you will be able to return to the most recent checkpoint, or you can go back and play earlier checkpoints.

Players will spend most of the time with Chiwatin, but will sometimes control the rabbit and the bear. Each animal has special abilities that make it possible for Chiwatin to find the crows. The rabbit can tunnel underground to find places that are impossible for Chiwatin to get to. The bear can swim across great bodies of water to explore new areas.

Players must track down the crows by following clues, like prints in the snow or feathers. Sometimes, the crows find you and will torment you where you stand. In these moments, there is no way to react. Players must watch the events unfold with no way to help Chiwatin or his friends. Eventually though, you will be able to help him down the correct path to saving the land and learning how to deal with problems that he faces with the crows.

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The Good

I absolutely love the story line. Even though young Chiwatin is dealing with magic and forces of nature, the overall theme is something many of us have felt in our lifetime. Being bullied can make you feel helpless and hopeless. Sometimes, you feel like everything would be O.K. if you could stop your tormentor, no matter what that means. However, the truth is that hurting others won’t necessarily make you feel better in the end.

Aside from the great story, the game is fun. Players run around a beautifully designed landscape, finding hidden paths and discovering new areas. The soundtrack is complimentary to the different parts of the story, sometimes tranquil, sometimes restless.

The Bad

My only complaint with this game is that it is too short. It plays out in three acts, each of which includes five or so checkpoints. When the game is over, there is no reason to replay it.

Value

At $4.99, this game comes at a high price considering there is no replay value. However, after researching the game development company, Minority Media, I feel good about the cost. The creators of this game put more than just time into creating it. The story comes from personal experiences and the team is dedicated to making non-violent empathy-focused titles that help players experience games on a deeper level.

Conclusion

You are looking at a premium priced game with no replay value. However, you are also looking at an interesting, story-driven title with deep, emotional value. The game isn’t hard to play and the puzzles aren’t too challenging. Think of it more as a very interactive book and less as a game. It is worth the five bucks. This game is available on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Download it in the App Store today.

Related Apps

This game reminds me a bit of Almightree: The Last Dreamer.

What do you think of Spirits of Spring? Let us know in the comments below.