I thoroughly enjoyed Life is Strange, but given how it ended, I wasn’t exactly screaming out for a sequel. The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit is a free prologue tasked with getting us interested in whatever the hell is going to happen in Life is Strange 2. Well, mission accomplished.
Captain Spirit wastes no time before tugging at the heartstrings with saccharine music playing in the background as we help Chris design the superhero costume for his alter-ego Captain Spirit. We don’t know much about Captain Spirit, but Chris’ superpower is undoubtedly his imagination. He plays with toys as they land on an alien planet for the first time before taking off in their spaceship.
Chris’ imagination comes in use when you see the sorry state of his home life. His mom died a couple of years ago and he now lives with his alcoholic and abusive father, Charles, who has a habit of falling asleep drunk on the sofa instead of keeping his promises to his son. It’s not a particularly original premise and the writing is a bit heavy-handed at times. Charles’ alcoholism is so obvious you can practically smell the booze through your monitor and it’s fairly clear he’s been beating Chris. The lack of subtlety could be down to the short runtime of this prologue and I’d like to see a defter hand at work in the sequel.
There isn’t an overall goal to complete. Instead, Charles watches the basketball while drinking whiskey and Chris is left with six tasks to fill his Saturday morning. You don’t have to complete them all to finish and I ended up triggering the conclusion by mistake after ninety minutes. Chris’ missions include making Captain Spirit’s superhero suit, defeating the evil Water Eater, and checking in on his superhero buddies.
The puzzles require little more than interacting with everything you see in the environment. It never gets much tougher than trying to find a PIN code or using a map to find a secret route through the junkyard. One puzzle was a little dubious. I won’t go so far as to call it moon logic, but it didn’t exactly feel like a believable solution either. Occasionally Chris uses his superpowers to do things such as making firecrackers explode (once the fuse has been lit) and turning on the television (with the remote). It’s all tongue-in-cheek and Chris is in on the joke.
While the tasks are simple, they fit wonderfully with the overall narrative. You aren’t just collecting beer cans for recycling: you’re collecting beer cans because your alcoholic father has drunk himself into a stupor and you’re destroying them with your super strength before using them as target practice. There’s a sadness to even the most mundane events, such as finding a pitiful collection of discarded cigarette butts in the snow after destroying the evil Snowmonger.
You learn about Chris’ dead mom through the usual collection of newspaper clippings, photos, and notes. She was a bit of a superstar and all-around perfect woman, or at least, that’s how it appears so far. She was a teacher, artist, and musician, who encouraged Chris to follow his dreams. Despite it all being rather on the nose, most of these moments are fairly touching, especially given the way you uncover some of them. I suspect there’s a lot more to Chris’ mom than meets the eye but we’ll have to wait until September for more answers on that.
The few fixed cutscenes and conversations offer you choices on how things play out although, in this prologue at least, your choices don’t make much difference. Chris might appear to be naive, however his conversations with other adults make it clear he knows exactly what is going on. It’s sad to watch him covering for his father’s many inadequacies despite being let down once again.
Captain Spirit ends on a rather obvious cliffhanger, however there’s more than enough here to have me eagerly anticipating Life is Strange 2. I’m convinced the death of Chris’ mom isn’t quite as clear-cut as it first appears and I’m looking forward to helping Chris uncover the truth. It’s always tricky to score a free game, but I enjoyed the 90 minutes I spent with Captain Spirit and recommend you give it a go.