In preparation for the upcoming Life is Strange 2, a brand new story in the same universe as the original, Dontnod have released a teaser demo in the form of The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit. This standalone game features nine year old Chris who lives with his father in another Oregon town, Beaver Creek, three years after the conclusion of the original game. Captain Spirit continues the strong themes of childhood nostalgia from the other games in the series, but also dives into other emotional topics.
The gameplay is very similar: you walk around environments and interact with the objects found within. Dontnod have changed the UI in Captain Spirit, which for the most part is unnoticeable due to the lack of interactions available. However, this falls apart somewhat for objects with multiple interactions. The options have to be selected using the mouse wheel now, which isn’t explained to you. I sat there for a while moving the mouse - the control in the previous games - with no effect for a few minutes before working out the change. Captain Spirit also introduces Super options, because you’re a goddamned Superhero, but the tooltip that explained how to use these disappeared before I could read it. I completed the game before I found out how to use these options.
Captain Spirit sticks with Life is Strange’s unique aesthetic, though the actual locomotion of the characters is significantly improved. The way they walk, and the way they interact with each other and the objects in the world is much smoother. Dontnod still haven’t gotten their facial animations perfected, and the awkward smiles and overstated emotions are definitely part of Captain Spirit. The textures and models in general look more complex and detailed than we’ve seen in a Life is Strange game before.
The following paragraphs contain minor spoilers for the themes and story
These games are known for their storytelling, and Captain Spirit is no different. The teen angst and soul searching from the previous games is replaced with something far darker however, with strong themes of alcoholism, domestic abuse and childhood escapism. It is heavily implied that Chris’ dad grabbed him by the wrist during a drunken rage at a televised basketball game, leaving it heavily bruised. Chris’ mum is noticeably absent from the game; she was killed several years before the game begins. There is a lot for Chris to escape from, and his fantasies are vivid.
It’s difficult to say much more; Captain Spirit seems to be little more than a prologue to Life is Strange 2, and I know very little about that game. There is definitely a strange cameo from characters who I assume will be the protagonists of the new game, but they only appear for a few seconds. There’s a few nice Life is Strange references, mentions of Blackwell and Arcadia Bay to help link the universe though no mention of the storm - potentially hinting to which ending of the original game this follows on from.
Overall, as a brief look into the next installment in this franchise, Captain Spirit is a great demonstration that Dontnod can create compelling and interesting characters and stories. It certainly doesn’t feel like an afterthought or a simple marketing campaign, but rather a full-on expansion to the universe. For the low price of absolutely nothing, it’s well worth giving this game a couple hours of your time just to see if you want to invest in the full sequel when it launches in September 2018.
The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit (Reviewed on Windows)
Excellent. Look out for this one.
A worthy (and free) successor to Life is Strange, and an intriguing teaser for the full sequel. Dontnod have improved on most accounts and look to draw in new fans with this prologue.