DONTNOD Entertainment has been on the rise lately. After the commercial failure of their first game Remember Me, the studio gave us their hit Life is Strange. That game, released in an episodic manner, told a somewhat supernatural story. One that was rooted in realism. Life is Strange took the world by storm, and fans have been clamoring for a sequel ever since. The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit is just that, kind of.
The game is a free-to-play experience, aimed at players who haven’t played the first game. While the story of Captain Spirit is stand alone, consequences from this game will bleed on to Life is Strange 2. However, we were more interested in finding out whether it fits cohesively as a complete stand-alone story and bar the ending, it does.
Now let us start off by stating that yes, the game is short. It took us roughly 2 hours to beat it on our first playthrough. But given Dontnod’s excellent story-telling skill those two hours did feel like an adventure. And the performances, while not extremely spectacular, give off a good feeling of belongingness.
You play as Chris Eriksen, a young boy living with his father. Both are trying to overcome the grief of Emily, Chris’ mother, who died shortly before the events of the game. Chris, like a lot of young kids, has a vivid imagination. And so, he dons the persona of Captain Spirit to pass his time during the holidays. Now, the game follows two parallel storylines, one involving his dad, and the other his superhero adventures.
Let’s discuss the main story involving Chris and his father. For the most part, the storyline is deeply effective in showing us just how and why Chris likes to dress up as a superhero. I won’t get into any details here, but suffice it to say that there are some obvious story tropes in play. Being as short as it is, you get a look into just one day of Chris’ life. Although that one day can tell you a lot. As I said above, the game, just like Life is Strange, is rooted in realism.
As you go throughout the day as Chris, you’ll find a lot of hidden messages and story threads scattered throughout the map. Some of them are connections to the larger Life is Strange universe, while others give more background about Chris’ family. Both of them are welcome. Veteran Life is Strange players will recognize the gameplay mechanics quite easily. Captain Spirit plays exactly like that other game. Which gives way to exploration. A lot of exploration. There is a myriad of activities to do around the house, with many superhero adventures to go through. As clear by now, Chris uses his vivid imagination and “superpowers” on these adventures, and it is a joy to watch them on screen.
I was a big fan of Life is Strange. While I didn’t play Before the Storm, I can say that DONTNOD knows how to make you invested in its game worlds. Even their recent game, Vampyr, focused heavily on interaction with NPCs. When done right, these worlds can feel alive. While Captain Spirit doesn’t have as many characters in those games, the developers have made sure to deliver plenty of content for replayability. As a lot of players will know, player choice is an integral aspect of these games, and this one also has its fair share of those.
DONTNOD has said that your choices will carry on to Life is Strange 2. Whether that’s true or not, we can only hope to wait and see. However, I do know that this isn’t the last we’ve seen of Chris. The game is, in every way, a stand-alone prequel to the upcoming game. But that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying it.
What can stop you from enjoying it is the performance. We played the game on PC, and the performance leaves a little more to be desired. We found the “Effects Quality” slider to be particularly heavy hitting. Turn that down a notch if you want that silky smooth 60fps experience. Also, speaking of performance, the game also lets you adjust the 3D render quality, which is always welcome. Overall though, there’s not much to tinker around within the settings, given the nature of the game.
The game, for the most part, looks pretty great. While there are a few moments where it’s clear that much of the work was put into Chris’ character model more so than others, it works. This game is by no means a graphical powerhouse. In fact, it looks almost the same as the first Life is Strange, with some improvements to the environmental textures.
Overall though, Captain Spirit is a really fun time. It manages to remind us of the developers love for effective storytelling. This isn’t the last we’ve seen of Chris, as it’s made pretty clear that he will show up in Life is Strange 2. It’s a great marketing tactic, and given that we get a sweet little freebie out of it, I’m not complaining.
You can get the game for Steam here.