If you're a Life is _Strange_ fan, then the highlight of E3 may have been that the next chapter in the story was coming out soon and that it was totally free. As such, it seems to be a foregone conclusion that fans of the series will play it, but is it everything they've hoped for? While The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit doesn't deal with any of the previous characters or plotlines in the franchise, it still feels every bit like a Life is Strange game. In the end, the point of Captain Spirit isn't really to be a great game in its own right, but to whet your appetite for Life is Strange 2, and in that regard, the game accomplishes its goal perfectly.
The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit introduces Chris, a pre-teen boy living with his father in Beaver Creek, Oregon at Christmas time. Very early on two things are established. Chris' mother is dead, and Chris' father isn't very good at being a single-dad. That doesn't stop Chris from loving his father, however. While the boy isn't oblivious to what's going on around him, he clearly still idolizes his father. He also desperately misses his mother. These emotions color everything that happens in Captain Spirit.
The game sees the player take on the role of Chris and spend a Saturday inside his imagination. He has created the superhero alter-ego Captain Spirit who battles an enemy known as the Mantroid. You take Chris around his home and surrounding yard to help him find components for his superhero costume as well as do other random tasks. It's a bit more of a traditional point and click style adventure game than most Life is Strange episodes, as gameplay is mainly limited to interacting with the various objects around you until you find a key item or change the state of another object in order to progress to the next step.
It's clear why the decision was made to make The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit free. While the portion of the story here is small, it's likely useful to the overall narrative of Life is Strange 2. It's still not clear how these stories will connect, but if this had been the first episode of Life is Strange 2, players would likely be upset with the overall lack of depth and length. This certainly feels lacking when compared to an episode of either previous Life is Strange games, but at the same time, after having completed it it feels like anybody who doesn't will be missing something when the new game is released.
While there doesn't feel like there's a great deal to do here, everything that is here to do feels important. Every interaction between Chris and his environment gives us insight into him and the way he sees the world. Some of it makes you smile, most of it makes you sad, but it will all cause a reaction of some kind. There are also a number of interesting references to find throughout Captain Spirit that connects the events of this game to the previous Life is Strange titles. These may exist simply for fan service or they might be more important to the larger story being told. It's too early to tell at this point.
Both Chris and his father are interesting and complex characters. Chris has all the childish innocence that you'd expect from a kid his age, but he's not clueless about the state of his life. He knows his dad drinks too much, and what happens when he does. Chris dad, on the other hand, isn't a complete monster, but he's also a man losing the fight to his demons and is clearly in the process of becoming one. Completing each quest in the game tells us a bit more about who Chris is, but each answer opens up several more questions.
Bizarrely, it feels like Captain Spirit exists as a sort of P.T. for the narrative-driven adventure game. Its real purpose is as a playable trailer for the next Life is Strange title. It's unlikely this one will earn quite the following that P.T. did, but like that one,, The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit is still worth playing, possibly more than once, on its own merits.
There are a number of different directions where Life is Strange 2 could be going based on where The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit leaves off. We'll have to wait until September to know for sure. It has certainly done its job and made me want to know.
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