PC Games

Published on March 4th, 2024 | by Paul Stuart

Spiritfall Review (PC)

Spiritfall Review (PC) Paul Stuart

Summary: Good idea just not well executed, Spiritfall's attempt at the first action platformer roguelike fails to deliver.


Neither Rogue or Action

An action platformer roguelike with combat mechanics paying homage to Super Smash Bros. sounds like a terrific idea, but unfortunately execution is where Spiritfall ultimately suffers and often. Mainly, Spiritfall is neither brimming with action or even a true roguelike, instead a grindfest focused not on any specific run rather upgrades for future ones.

With this being said, I can’t wholly dismiss what developer Gentle Giant attempted with Spiritfall, in it a pretty clever premise. Unfortunately, I found Spiritfall execution to be both monotonous and frustrating, with rarely the replayabilty allure the roguelike genre is known for.

To explain, Spiritfall possesses roguelike elements in there randomly generated rooms in a level’s run, but they are filled with the same enemies, and boring cheap shot artists at that. Run upgrades rarely help a given run, especially with near impossible bosses awaiting as the big reveal. In tandem, combat mechanics are over-simplified and rarely accurate, with lots of cheese from a distance, but little opportunity to truly chain together any semblance of a battle combo that inspires.

The greatest reward lies after death, in room choices – and rewards that follow – enabling weapon and character upgrades for future runs. Thus, expect to grind always and often to become just a little bit stronger post hoc, fighting uninspired similar enemies via elementary fighting mechanics. Several hours in I’m stronger…but the boredom persists. This is the kiss of death for a roguelike where current run should always trump future ones, with upgrades naturally embedded in experience.

While some may enjoy the Super Smash Bros. fighting and platform mechanics, I found Spiritfall’s frustratingly non-responsive with over-emphasis on waiting out enemies moving up and down platforms. Protagonist – regardless of weapon – seems to possess some hitch to attacks, and flying enemies always just out of reach of most. I also couldn’t shake the feeling that room selection truly mattered little beyond a predetermined approach favoring certain items (via room selection choices) over others to buy post run upgrades. Finally, the very similar enemies and their boring appearance, unnecessary armor, and tedious patterns got old fast. Insult to injury is starting Spiritfall from the same level…every time…with no change in final bosses or any core game dynamic (besides power upgrade) along the way. Imagine Returnal, but without a newness for each run.

This is not to insist Spiritfall isn’t beautifully presented. Its art style is clever, and it is literally drawing from a Miyazaki-like lore to piece together its story. Still, being forced to do uninspired runs to grind away via multiple shops dulls the experience. And the limited action options create tough immersion or any sense of strategy truly being executed to beat runs.

This review may seem like blasphemy for those longing for roguelike meets Smash Bros., in any way, shape or form. That, however, is not me. As a huge fan of the roguelike genre – therefore highly critical and praiseworthy of offerings within – Spiritfall falls well short of legends like Binding of Isaac, Vampire Survivors, Brotato, and most recently Balatro. Also, and playing on Steam Deck, Spiritfall’s irritatingly long black screen at start was quite off-putting.

Final Thoughts

Spiritfall tried something different in an action platformer roguelike, but unfortunately falls a bit short in actual execution. Presentation is solid, but experience is certainly not the kind to keep you wanting one more run.

About the Author


A gamer for over 30 years, Paul Stuart has an unhealthy obsession with Assassins Creed, God of War, also sport and virtual reality titles. In his spare time, he teaches Muay Thai kickboxing, runs WrestlingInFlorida.com, and drives his toddler crazy.

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