The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit opens with the song Death with Dignity by Sufjan Stevens, a beautiful song but one I rarely listen to without listening to the entire album. I believe similar sentiment will be felt towards Dontnod’s free spin-off game. While perhaps marketed as more of a standalone experience, in the end Captain Spirit feels more like the prologue to the upcoming Life Is Strange 2 than its own narrative. The roughly hour and a half experience offers interesting glimpses into the world and characters of its upcoming follow up; however, I feel it offers little for those not already considering pre-ordering the upcoming season.
Captain Spirit is, in essence, the story of a typical Saturday in December for a young kid with a big imagination. We fight the terrifying boiler room monster, don the costume of the titular Captain Spirit and make our way through a hidden maze, though there is more to the narrative than Chris’s big imagination. As we go to the kitchen for breakfast, we see Chris’s father mounting up beer cans on the kitchen side before walking away with a bottle of whiskey in hand. The relationship between Chris and his father, Charles, is at the centre of Captain Spirit, and I like the narrative’s mix of superhero antics with the deeper elements of a father and son relationship.Though it’s a shame that the story doesn’t receive any sort of a payoff or resolution in the end. As I mentioned at the start of the review, The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit feels like more of a first chapter to a story rather than its own narrative, and as such the story sort of just ends as it seems to get going. What’s here is fine, while it’s prone to similar moments of awkward dialogue and delivery like its predecessor, it had a couple of touching moments; unfortunately, it doesn’t lead to 100% satisfaction by the end.
Gameplay is a similar scenario, I liked the idea of Chris’s imagination being a part of the gameplay, with L2 activating Captain Spirit’s powers on various items around the house (and always ending with showing the very normal ways in which he did it). The entire hour and a half experience is the player checking off Chris’s awesome tasks list by collecting and moving various items around the house. For the most part the objectives are fun, though some of them can be a little tedious (I’m looking at you map I had to take a picture of because you wouldn’t just go in my inventory). Whenever the Captain Spirit persona takes over and the world is transformed around Chris is when the game is at its best, though it only happens a couple of times. Overall, it’s essentially an hour of one of the house levels in the original Life Is Strange, not much happens but it’s enough to keep me going.
Presentation and soundtrack are of the highest quality of the original Life Is Strange; if there is one thing Dontnod excel at, it’s that indie flare. The hand-drawn aesthetic of the menus and soft texture all come together to give the game an earnest feel. I also loved the over-the-top nature of the game’s imagination sections, with them feeling distinct from the rest of the game’s environment. The game’s small location is packed with little details with Chris’s room being filled to the brim with interactive objects, and it helps make this home feel lived in and crafted with care. There is also some great use of environmental storytelling littered throughout, and I appreciated the game respecting my intelligence to piece together on my own. It looks great, excluding a couple of muddy textures and some of the pictures and items that look downright awful. It’s presentation is the strongest point, making me want to stick around in the world of The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit.
In the end, The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit is a fine little adventure. It’s hard to complain too much about a free game, and it offers a fun hour and a half of adventuring around the house, though your enjoyment of its narrative will likely depend on how excited you are for the upcoming Life Is Strange 2 coming this September. It had a few fun moments, and I’m somewhat intrigued to see its characters and mechanics developed further. The little adventure didn’t have me instantly hooked or overwhelmed with hype for the full game, though it’s an earnest effort and is a narrative not often seen in video games. You can do a lot worse with your weekday afternoon than taking a nostalgic trip and playing The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit, and I feel it’s narrative will definitely resonate with some. Overall, I liked it for what it was as a fan of the original Life Is Strange, though I can’t see it offering much to those not already into Dontnod’s coming of age, indie movie narratives.
Developer: Dontnod Entertainment
Publisher: Square Enix
Platform: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Release Date: 25th June 2018
Check out more information about The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit HERE
Read our review of Life Is Strange HERE