Life is life really, and through the eyes of a child, even the mundane is rife for escaping harsh realities.
Upon its reveal at E3, The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit’s trailer gave us a new entry to the Life is Strange world from Dontnod Entertainment. Dontnod says it contains links to the new story and characters of upcoming prequel, Life is Strange 2, but whether we’ll see protagonist Chris in the sequel is unknown. It was a surprise to us that the title would be coming so soon, and for free. This free demo doesn’t delve into an array of characters, but explores a father/son relationship post tragedy, and in doing so, it intrigued me enough to pique my interest in Life is Strange 2.
The tone of the trailer suggested something quite playful, but I could tell from the soundtrack chosen there would be something contrastingly sombre at play in The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit. Dontnod needed the dynamic between a struggling parent and their child to be right, and it is. Obviously Chris’ mother meant a great deal to both of them, and although I felt distant from her given she only appears in pictures and mementos, I felt the loss for Chris and his father.
The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit is just under two hours long, but given it’s free I have no complaint on its length. It’s a narrative experience which consists mainly of completing several tasks as Chris, but they’re childlike in their nature: create your superhero armour out of items around the house; turn on the boiler by defeating the water eater. Completing those tasks involves a lot of walking around looking at everything, and it’s a drab house decorated mostly in mementos. Everything belonging to Chris is bright and colourful compared to the rest of the house. Chris is at an age where he can’t necessarily ignore what’s happening around him, but can still use his imagination to escape it.
There are various nods to the first Life is Strange to be found around the house. I won’t go into detail because in a game this short anything could be a spoiler, but this is unmistakably the Life is Strange world seen through the eyes of an excitable and imaginative boy. It reminds you of your own childhood, with the most mundane of items transforming into something fantastical. There were moments where I was smiling at things I too used to do as a kid.
Beauty and the drab
I like the broad look and feel of The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit. In terms of the game’s soundtrack, the tracks chosen and written for this suit the style perfectly. Sufjan Stevens’ Death by Dignity is the main theme for this game – the opening track from an album that centres around the death of his mother. I think Dontnod has perfected its art style because there’s an added beauty to the game here; moreso than I’ve seen before from the team. Often there are moments where we are viewing the immediate area around the house, and it looks peacefully graceful in the snow – a juxtaposition to most of Chris’ home.
Strewn around are vestiges which reveal more of what happened before our entry into Chris’ story. Some of the details in letters Chris already knows, but others are brand new information to him. At the centre of all this is the feeling that we are privy to a very important couple of hours in his life; the end itself suggests that his life is forever changed now – for more reason than one.
Dontnod didn’t necessarily need to make The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit, but I’m really glad that it did. The role of Chris in Life is Strange 2 can only be speculated, but if he turns out to be an important figure than this short title gives us a more readily available connection to him. And even if he’s only a passing character we still get the feeling of a more realised world that Dontnod has created.