Title: The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit
Available On: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One (Reviewed)
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Dontnod Entertainment
Official Site: https://captainspirit.square-enix-games.com/en-gb
Release Date: June 25, 2018
Where To Buy It: Microsoft Store, PlayStation Store (Free)
Life is Strange is finally back – well, Life is Strange 2 has been confirmed to be coming out in September this year but in the meantime, DontNod has released a demo in anticipation of the sequel. This demo, The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit, is a standalone free episode out now on Xbox One, PS4, and PC. Chris is the main playable character in this episode; this young boy’s vivid imagination sees him don a cape and become Captain Spirit, a superhero protecting the town from monsters. One such foe you will face off with is Snowmancer, one of Captain Spirit’s most fierce foes (really a snowman in Chris’ backyard). So, how does this standalone stand on its own?
Right from the get-go, there are immediate parallels with the original Life is Strange story that received wide applause. Strikingly, the art style and soundtrack will straightway transport you back into the Life is Strange universe. What I personally enjoyed about the original Life is Strange is the escapism it offered but also how relatable the characters were. Everyone can relate to Chris in this standalone episode because who didn’t let their imagination allow them to become someone else as a kid?
The superpowers serve as the surface gameplay mechanic for this demo. But, it is the underlying emotional story and relationships between the characters where this game shines. Like Life is Strange before it, expect to have your heartstrings pulled at throughout this short episode. Whilst this episode may serve best for returning fans of the Life is Strange universe, it’s self-contained story is so well fleshed-out in the short space of time that it serves well for newcomers too. The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit will appeal to anyone who wants to sit down for an emotional journey.
Gameplay wise, you can expect to see similar mechanics to Life is Strange; that is the ability to walk about and explore in a pre-defined area and interact with objects. The compelling draw to this game is the vast details packed into a small area. There’s a lot to learn about the characters by just taking your time to explore. Where this demo differs to the game before it is for Chris to interact with objects in a special way. Captain Spirt’s superpower is to bend matter to his will and for a 10-year-old with a very active imagination, you can have a lot of fun interacting with objects in this way.
Outside of Chris and his father, there are very few characters you actually interact with. One feels like this is by design as the quaint snowy environment gives an impression of solitude. It’s apparent Chris is lonely and his imagination is his form of escape. This is emphasized through Chris’ troubled relationship with his father. Chris’ father has become a broken man since the death of Chris’ mother; losing his job, his house, his whole livelihood. It’s immediately shown that he suffers from alcoholism as he spends his days watching Basketball games and neglecting his son. Due to this, Chris’ imagination is his way of escaping from all of this.
The episode isn’t too long and can be completed in 1 hour or so. You won’t be sinking too much time into this demo because it is, for the most part, defined to one area but The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit does a great job at delivering an emotional story. You’ll find that the supervillain that Chris faces, Mantroid, derives his name from the two streets that Chris’ mother was killed on. It’s revealed late on that Chris’ father is constantly reminded of his wife when he looks at Chris and this is implied to be a reason behind his abuse.
A lot of backstory is revealed via letters scattered around the area. Some of these are easy to find but others require you to do prerequisite tasks to find. For instance, letters to a mysterious new lover are locked inside Chris’ father’s wardrobe. The key to which is only stumbled upon when interacting with the lamp in his bedroom. This highlights the encouragement to actively explore every room so you can unlock all the hidden details surrounding the environment and the characters of the story.
Verdict: Ultimately, this standalone episode provides an engaging way to prepare fans for the next story in the Life is Strange universe. The story evokes a lot of emotion in the short space of time that the player will play as Chris. After the end credits roll, we are told we will see Chris again in Life is Strange 2 but it is, for now, unclear just what kind of appearance he will make. It is nice to know though that this standalone episode will, in some fashion, tie-in with Life is Strange 2, episode 1 of which will be releasing in September 2018.
- An emotional story
- Detailed interactions
- Fun superhero quests
- Lack of characters
I’ve been gaming on consoles for over 15 years. I mainly play on Xbox and PlayStation but I also enjoy other systems.