The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit was a lead-in to Life is Strange 2. It is designed to be a title that helped promote the new title in the franchise, but also is a standalone title for the majority of it, and is quite well made.
Captain Spirit focuses on a young boy, Chris Eriksen, and his desire to be a superhero, a common dream of young kids, and a relatable one. He imagines himself as Captain Spirit with a band of fellow superheroes who fight against a league of villains.
Of course, this is just a fantasy, and while the trailer hints that Chris Eriksen has some kind of special powers, this doesn’t appear to be the case. Instead, DontNod develops another interesting and unique character and shows why they are revered as great storytellers.
From the beginning of the Captain Spirit, it’s clear something is off, and throughout the game, you learn more about Chris’ home life. Captain Spirit doesn’t pull any punches, and while it tackles well-worn character archetypes, it doesn’t directly confront them when possible. Chris’s father is not well adjusted, and you’ll see Chris early on lament times his father has failed him. When we finally meet the father, he casually picks up a bottle of whiskey to go watch the game, and there’s plenty of beer cans.
What Captain Spirit does well is developing their characters and emotions through these storytelling elements. Yes, these can be minimized as just tropes, but at the same time, it doesn’t just scream “He’s an alcoholic” but instead makes you feel and empathize with Chris’ character and start to understand the world he finds himself in, as well as explains why he feels more comfortable being Captain Spirit. It’s exactly what people want when they say “Show don’t tell”.
A lot of Captain Spirit’s story is well done, but heavily spoiler-ish and I’m going to avoid diving further into the themes. However, Captain Spirit delivers an emotional journey for a story that can be played through in under an hour. I found myself uninterested in rushing through the adventure because I wanted to learn more about the characters and the setting I found myself in.
Captain Spirit’s gameplay is less linear than Life Is Strange. Instead of a storyline, Chris comes up with little adventures he’s planning to go on, whether it be designing his costume, building his arch-nemesis, or even just playing a game on his dad’s phone.
Each quest is separate and can be completed at any time or in any order, and it appears that no quest is required. There is a specific action for the “conclusion” of the story to take place and that appears to take around only a couple of minutes to be possible. Once that final action is started, the ending of Captain Spirit will play out in consecutive discussions.
So people can speed through Captain Spirit in under 20 minutes, there is still a lot of optional content for players to work through, including various puzzles and tasks. Most of the tasks are pretty obvious, though a couple requires some “pixel hunting” searching for items, and there is one password that is quite obtuse. For the most part, Captain Spirit is here for the player who wants to explore at their rate and is well done for that. So many of these optional tasks feel just silly enough to be worth achieving, such as getting a full costume for “Captain Spirit” or battling the “Water eater”
Captain Spirit is an odd title to judge. On one hand, it’s made to get people interested in Life is Strange 2, and ends on a cliffhanger, which is cleared up in Life is Strange 2. Yet it’s a free entry, almost a teaser for the larger game. Though after playing Life is Strange 2, I’d go so far as to say Captain Spirit is the better title, compared to the larger journey.
As a free title, Captain Spirit is worth taking the plunge. It’s short enough that it won’t bore anyone, it’s deep enough that fans who enjoy the game will have a few hours of fun. But the story is what matters because it delivers a compelling narrative in a bite-sized package.
I give The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit a
That’s high, but it’s mostly because it’s a free game, with content that is only available in the Captain Spirit download. There is a tie-in to Life Is Strange 2, but it doesn’t change too much of Life Is Strange 2 to discuss beyond the fact that this “demo” also adds something special to the game it’s promoting.
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