With the follow up to the award winning Life is Strange only a few months away, DONTNOD Entertainment figured they’d release a demo of sorts to tide us over until the main event, Life is Strange 2, arrives on the scene. The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit is that demo and it’s completely free for all as it aims to give players a taste of what’s to come, with some choices directly affecting your experience in Life is Strange 2. But is it worthwhile to actually play The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit, or are you better off just skipping it?
The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit is set in Beaver Creek, Oregon, with the main protagonist being a 10 year old boy, Chris, who has a super-hero alter-ego, Captain Spirit. Chris believes he possesses magical telekinetic-like powers, but in reality, he’s just a kid with an over-active imagination. The story follows Chris on a regular Saturday in the lead up to Christmas and how daily life plays out now that his dad is a single parent after some kind of incident took his mother away. It’s anything but a normal day though.
You’ll play as Chris throughout, with him occasionally dipping into character as Captain Spirit, and there are certain objectives to accomplish during the, roughly, two hour experience. The way in which you approach these fantastical side-missions is up to you as Chris can wander around his house, interacting with a load of items. Venturing outside is also a possibility, but that area is pretty limited in comparison.
What’s cool is that they’re all quite vague objectives and so the onus is on you to explore every possible environmental interaction in order to figure them out. Each objective leads to imaginative scenes involving ‘Captain Spirit’ and his adventures, as he attempts to defeat the henchmen of his nemesis, Mantroid. One in particular sees you ‘blowing up’ the Snowmancer – a snowman – using firecrackers from a locker, but you’ll need to find the code for the lock on it and it’ll only become clear by taking in all the lore it has to offer.
And despite the short length, there are lots of subtle hints at the bigger picture of what’s going on in Chris’ life; why he allows his mind to escape reality, how both he and his dad are coping on their own and what’s actually happened to the mother. Credit has to go to the writing team for almost instantly making Chris an endearing character that you begin to care for and worry about. There’s a darkness to the narrative that’s there for those who want a deeper experience, as well as clues about their lives before this and even a nod to Blackwell Academy from the first season of Life is Strange.
Aside from the interactions, there are little mini-games, seeing Captain Spirit firing a toy gun at a home-made firing range and navigating a maze, but the best without a doubt is a Hawt Dawg Man: Mustard Party 2 game. It’s like Flappy Bird, however you need to guide Hawt Dawg Man past BBQ grills and vultures – it’s good fun for a little while at least. The only other thing to do is engage in conversations which come across as earnest and real, with terrific voice acting for the few characters present. The only niggle I have is in regards the mood change between some scenes only seconds apart, which seems senseless; one moment it’s a bit of a heated exchange and the next it’s all sunshine and rose petals.
In terms of the visuals, the snow-covered woodland and surrounding area looks lovely, as does the inside of the house with brilliant art work on posters and books – even the toy figures are well designed. The character models seem much improved on the first series, seeming more realistic in movements and when talking. What really helps to create an emotional atmosphere though is the soundtrack and when it lets you kick back and listen to the couple of tracks included, it feels like such a peaceful and idyllic world.
The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit is one of the slowest adventures out there, but given time and a chance to show off the depth it has, it’s rather impressive for a demo. Of course, the storytelling is the bread and butter here, albeit with a tentative approach instead of throwing every nugget of information at you. The joy is in finding documents and really listening to the dialogue to get a better idea of the situation at hand. Just don’t expect to influence the narrative too much though, with dialogue options quite limited.
The Captain Spirit character is the part of the demo that caught my attention beforehand, but it’s the human characters that made me want to stay and know more. And after the ending of The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit, I’m absolutely ready for Life is Strange 2. I highly advise giving it a go seeing as it’s free.