Arietta of Spirits is a story-driven top-down adventure where Arietta and her family vacation to a remote island but things take a turn.
Immediately after starting Arietta of Spirits, you're sucked into a rich narrative as Arietta and her mom and dad are on a road trip to an island. After playing many fantasy adventure games, it's always weird seeing the cast in an ordinary-looking car. Anyway, they discuss the past and present and you learn that the vacation to grandma's cabin on the island has been a family tradition. In fact, mom has been to the island every year for her entire life. But now that grandma has passed on, it's the first year that Arietta's family is going to the island without her. Of course, grandma's death is on everyone's mind and once they're on the island for dinner and grandma is not in her chair, they become quite sad.
Arietta is soon visited by a spirit named Arco. He comes from the spirit realm which exists parallel to our own. Arietta and Arco then visit the spirit of grandma who has trouble passing on to the spirit realm because she lost a family ring. Arietta promises to recover the ring but as she will soon find out, her adventure becomes something much more dangerous as she battles against supernatural forces.
As you can see, Arietta of Spirits is deeply story-based. It's not a particularly long game at only a few hours but it has a lot of dialogue and cutscenes for its playtime. I thought the story was charming and although we are out there battling supernatural monsters, it does have a happy ending and nothing too bad happens until the very end of the game. It's also an action sword fighting game. The sword combat is quite simple and later on, you get an extremely useful spirit shield that lets you absorb all damage as long as the shield is active.
Arietta of Spirits features a very beautiful retro pixel art style, a fun soundtrack, and the whole game is set on an idyllic island which is the perfect place to explore. There are collectibles to find, too, in the form of 20 spirit cubs and you get something special if you manage to find them all. There's also a few other fun little side-quests and some clever hidden achievements to find if you go out of your way to look for them. There's even an extreme difficulty setting packed in if you manage to complete the game on normal mode. On extreme, one hit means death! That's perfect for genre veterans or players who want to experience Arietta of Spirits a second time.
Overall, I like everything about Arietta of Spirits and there's surprisingly nothing that I don't like about it. The only caveat is that the campaign is only a few hours long. Even finishing everything to 100% won't take very long. Of course, many gamers want to buy games with a lot of playtime for their buck which is understandable so if you're bothered by paying good money for a short game, you might want to give it a pass. In my opinion, Arietta of Spirits' positive qualities more than make up for its short playtime.
If you're a pixel enthusiast and enjoy classic games like the Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, you're sure to love Arietta of Spirits. It has an awesome heartwarming story and tries to be like a classic SNES adventure game and it succeeds well at doing so.
- + Heartwarming and memorable story
- + Solid retro adventure game feel
- + Collectibles, sidequests, and many other features extend replay value
- - Overall campaign is fairly short at only a few hours total
- - Doesn't take long to 100% everything