Why You Should Play
- Engaging narrative with good environmental storytelling.
- An endearing and relatable protagonist.
- A free to play prequel to Life is Strange 2.
- Plenty of nostalgia to make you feel like a kid again.
The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit was a bit of a surprise announcement at E3 2018, but a nice one at that. As soon as we discovered that Captain Spirit would take place in the same universe as Life is Strange, we knew that we would be in for a heartfelt experience with an intriguing narrative. Luckily, Captain Spirit did not disappoint.
The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit is a short gameplay demo created by Dontnod Entertainment, the developers behind games like Life is Strange and Vampyr. Captain Spirit is a short two-hour demo that is completely free to play and serves as a direct prequel to the upcoming episodic game, Life is Strange 2.
In Captain Spirit, players step into the shoes of Chris, a young boy who lives alone with his father and has a very active imagination. With blankets of snow covering the ground and nowhere to go beyond the treehouse and garage, Chris transforms into his imaginary superhero alter-ego Captain Spirit to pass the time. Of course, Chris doesn’t see it that way, as Captain Spirit has a full list of Awesome Things to Do that must be completed to ensure the safety of the universe.
Most of your time in Captain Spirit will be spent roaming about Chris’s house, completing tasks on Captain Spirit’s to-do list while his father sits on the couch to watch the basketball game. The house itself is intentionally bleak, and due to Chris’s father being so emotionally withdrawn, the whole house feels rather lonely. There are also small details that help reinforce the bleak mood of the house, such as mom’s old drawings and letters, or dad's beer cans that clutter up the kitchen.
However, thanks to Chris’s active imagination, you are capable of seeing even the most ordinary objects in a new light as Captain Spirit. You play through the perspective of Chris, who is able to transform mundane household scenarios into epic adventures using Captain Spirit’s “powers”. This is a simple mechanic that allows you to trigger cutscenes and have Captain Spirit interact with toys and objects in imaginative ways.
The way that Captain Spirit perceives the world perfectly captures what it felt like to use your imagination as a kid, especially if you were an only child who had to come up with unique ways to entertain yourself when there was no one else to play with. Captain Spirit views his environment through rose-tinted glasses in a way that only a child really can.
Some of the tasks on Captain Spirit’s to-do list include finding all your costume parts, navigating the Maze of Doom, and even taking down menacing villains like the Snowmancer or Captain Spirit’s archnemesis, Mantroid. None of these tasks are particularly difficult, but they do a good job at conveying the world through Chris’s perspective while providing a means of indirect storytelling.
As you complete tasks both inside and outside the house, new details about Chris’s past begin to emerge, painting a subtle picture as to why his father seems so distant and why the house feels so lonely. We don’t want to spoil any details here, so we suggest you play through the short demo to discover the narrative for yourself.
Visuals and Performance
The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit does a great job at creating a contrast between Chris’s room and the rest of the house. The house itself is dim and grey, with most of the light coming through the windows from the sheets of snow outside. Chris’s bedroom, on the other hand, is much more colorful and bright, making it seem warmer and more inviting compared to the rest of the house.
There’s action figures strewn about the room, a box of toy weapons on the floor, and a drawing station setup on his desk. The walls are covered in posters of superheroes, Hawt Dawg Man, and Chris’s own drawings, giving the area a very homey, superhero-lair feel to it that will make you nostalgic for those simpler times as a child.
Game of the Week
Although the game is short, there is a lot to enjoy in The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit. It's a melancholic tale permeated by moments of levity and whimsy. Chris is a charming and endearing character that is easy to relate to, and the setting does a great job at establishing the mood for Life is Strange 2, which is scheduled to release in September.
While the gameplay is simple, the subtle exposition and environmental storytelling in Captain Spirit is well done, and you’ll likely come away feeling invested in Chris’s story. We’re prepared to see what’s next for Chris and his father, and we’re looking forward to experiencing more of the world through Captain Spirit’s eyes.