The announcement of the longest title for a video game titled The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit was one of the unexpected surprises at E3 2018. To make the surprise better, Dontnod Entertainment released this game for free.
According to the developer, the free-to-play episode serves as a hint to what will come next in Life is Strange 2. Although this short prequel-of-sorts will leave players with more questions rather than solid answers, The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit successfully fulfills expectations that the upcoming Life is Strange 2 is going to be spectacular and gorgeous.
The two-hour game focuses on the life of 9-year-old dreamer Chris Eriksen and his alter ego Captain Spirit. Chris relies on his sets of toys and unlimited imagination to paint the bleak backdrop of a grieving family. As the young boy tries to cope with the loss of his mother, Chris’ father, Charles, also has his own ways of dealing with his wife’s passing: drinking too much booze and a lot of angry yelling to his son, which is similar to the bitter police detective Hank Anderson in Detroit: Become Human. I’m noticing a pattern now...
At times, you can feel the loneliness in the optimistic boy’s life because the only person you can interact with doesn’t have even the slightest interest to be with you. Despite the full presence of his father in the somber household, his father prefers to watch the basketball matches on TV while reminiscing his basketball glory days and venting his sadness by leaving a fist-sized dent on his bedroom’s door. Thank God that doesn’t land on Chris’ face. It could’ve been another different kind of ‘awesome’ adventures.
The house itself embodies another living character that fills with little nuances of what was once before a happy family like his mother’s vinyl collections and cute cartoons, as well as a perfume bottle placed inside his father’s bedroom. The grey colour that’s present in every corner of the house is lacking Chris’ vibrant personality but the dull grey doesn’t extend to his bedroom. His books, posters and colourful drawings bask in the warm sunlight through the overlooking windows.
Following the similar mechanics of Life is Strange, the story grows bigger as you explore every inch of the cold and snowy environment. The game consists of the inside-out house exploration and crossing off Chris’ list of the titular “Awesome Things To Do.” Whether you climb up a treehouse, snoop through Charles’ wardrobe or check the house’s garage, you’re able to piece the puzzles together on how a father and son handle their grief.
As far as the gameplay goes, Chris has been granted special “powers” courtesy of Captain Spirit. When you look at certain items in the house, for example, you can stare at a log in a fireplace to flare it up. It turns out to be a fancy figment of Chris’ imagination, which reminds me when I was a child and tried to open the automatic doors at the shopping mall with my bare hands (I’m still doing it until today actually). It might be annoying in some parts because nothing happens afterward. However, it successfully conveys the active imagination inside the mind of a child.
Chris’ riveting imagination is a major influence for his list of awesome things to do, from fighting the Water Eater (which is just a normal water heater) to facing Captain Spirit’s arch nemesis called Mantroid, to even hitting beer cans with snowballs (a brilliant nod to Life is Strange). The game is also littered with cool easter eggs if you’re able to recognise it.
As you’re channeling through the life of an only child while accompanied by the soft tunes of Sufjan Stevens, the brief playthrough lays out a thought-provoking story without revealing too much. The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit sets a mysterious future for the upcoming game with brand new characters, different kinds of secret powers and a new story that will definitely ensnare our hearts the way Dontnod Entertainment did in the previous Life is Strange.
The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit is now available for free on PC (Steam), PS4 and Xbox One.