Spirit Roots, in stitches – First Sip Review
Spirit Roots is a traditional 2D platformer developed by Fireart Games and published by Drageus Games S.A.
The story in Spirit Roots is fairly simple but cute. Well, maybe cute isn’t exactly right. But it’s an interesting idea. Essentially there is a small star-system ravaged by war (so yeah not exactly cute). After a hundred years of conflict, all of the planets had been mostly destroyed. However, each planet had a small segment remaining, just enough to stitch them all together into one planet. Peace remains on this stitched-together world for thousands of years. That is until the “calamity” an unknown event that breaks the bonds holding the world together.
Our unnamed hero is split from his family and must break the treaty’s one rule to get back to them. It’s a fun and interesting idea, especially the imagery of the stitched up world. But it also brings to mind quite a lot of questions. Such as, if the rule was never to cross another region’s borders, how was the hero split from his family? Also if his goal is to return to his family why is his journey taking the long way around the entirety of the planet? Didn’t all the borders split so wouldn’t it be simpler to just cross one border instead of all of them? But ultimately, it’s not about these things, it’s just a simple story about returning to your family even if it means breaking the rules.
The art in Spirit Roots is quite lovely, the characters and backgrounds look almost hand-painted. There is a fun cartoon style and smoothness to the animation that reminds me of a Zoink game like Stick it to the Man, an Image and Form game like Steamworld Heist or a Thunderful game like the upcoming Spiritfarer. Seeing as Thunderful was formed by Zoink and Image and Form alum. Likewise, it reminds me of Oneshark games Chicken Assassin: Reloaded and their excellent but sadly incomplete Twist of Destiny.
There are some issues with the art still though. While each of the 5 worlds you can visit are different visually a lot of them feel somewhat like reskins. Like you’ll see very similar platforms and spike setups from the stating Village stages all the way to the Frozen Kingdom. There are new things introduced in each of the worlds, but again each world still feels similar to the others and each level in each world is pretty much the same.
There are also a bunch of times where I noticed my character was either standing on top of a background item, hit an invisible wall or connected with something that he shouldn’t have. But I’ll focus more on the hitbox issues later.
No real complaints here, the music is nice and inoffensive. The sound effects are fine too. The noise the main character makes when he is teetering on the edge of a platform is kinda funny. Each world and boss fight have their own music and all of them fit well and sound good. It’s nothing amazing, like I haven’t looked for a soundtrack, but it’s effective for what it is. The one suggestion I have is that checkpoints should make a noise when you walk past them. While something visually normally happened like red eyes appearing from a tree trunk in the Dark Woods world, I found that the Desert checkpoints I couldn’t really see what changed and a noise would have been useful.
Other than that, sound-design is also fine. Nothing stellar, nothing horrible.
Spirit Roots is a classic 2D platformer. Jump, double jump, avoid traps, collect souls or coins (the game calls them souls in the tutorial but coins at the end of the level). The main difference between Spirit Roots and other generic platformers would be that you have both a long and short-ranged weapon. However, it doesn’t really change much, the sword is normally easier to use but if enemies are far away or standing in a small location you can shoot them from a distance. The main issue with this is that each world has 2 types of enemies and 1 of the 2 will have a shield making the gun useless so you have to use the sword on them, but you never really have to use the gun at all.
Each standard level has 3 goals, get to the end, defeat all enemies and collect all coins/souls. Beating a level will give you between 1 and 3 points based on how many of the goals you achieved and unlock the next level. New worlds are unlocked by hitting milestones, 44 will unlock the final level the Frozen Kingdom.
Boss levels are pretty much what you’d expect, a level with a boss. Rather than collecting things you just need to survive and kill the boss.
Hit and Miss
It’s a fun game, but the real hit it takes on gameplay is hitboxes. There are so many times I died by something that didn’t seem to even touch me. Likewise, sometimes I killed enemies without my attack actually connecting. There were also many times where I would strike an enemy and then my follow-up attack would pass through them and I’d die.
Not really hitbox related but there’s also no way to cancel an animation which means the time between shooting, striking and jumping can cause issues. And lastly, when you respawn there are no invincibility frames which for a standard level is fine. But when you’re fighting a boss it can result in the boss spawn-killing you.
Spirit Roots suffers from a lot of the same issues as StretchBot but ultimately I had more fun with it. A lot of the deaths I experienced felt cheap and were the result of issues out of my control like weird hitboxes. But it was a less frustrating experience than with StretchBot or even Ghosts’N DJ’s. In the credits, I noticed that the game received a PC-port, which would explain a little about some of the issues. For fans of platformers, Spirit Roots has enough to offer to keep you interested. But for hardcore gamers, it’s still a little light.
In Coffee Terms
Spirit Roots in coffee terms is like a flat white. It’s pretty standard, tastes ok, not too strong not too weak. It looks nice, with some foam on the top and a nice picture on it. But after a while, you’ll want something a little more satisfying. Still, a worthwhile drink to try out and the cafe has potential in hitting the next level if you stick with them.
Spirit Roots Links
Nintendo eStore: https://www.nintendo.com/games/detail/spirit-roots-switch/
Apple Store: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/spirit-roots/id1418504512
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.fireart.SpiritRootsP&hl=en_AU
Spirit Roots Review Summary
One half of the YouTube brother duo, The Game Bros with Sirhc and Ar0n, Chris is a lover of games, movies and other great things you can do from home.
Coffee of choice: I like the sweeter kinds, mixed with chocolate, coconut, caramel etc. but I won’t turn down a flat white or a straight black either.