During the Xbox E3 press conference a few days ago, a new narrative adventure by DONTNOD called The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit was announced. This new game is set in the same universe as DONTNOD’s cult classic Life is Strange, and will also serve as an introduction to the next Life is Strange game. During E3, I visited Square Enix’s booth and was able to see a gameplay presentation of Captain Spirit.
Although Captain Spirit is made using the Unreal 4 engine, a step up from the Unreal 3 engine used to make the first Life is Strange, fans of the series will feel right at home as both the art style and music help bring players into the same feeling and mindset as that of Max and Chloe’s adventures. Speaking of Max, it was funny to see how DONTNOD messes with the audience’s expectations of superpowers in this new game. For those who don’t know, Max Caulfield, the protagonist of Life is Strange, has the power to rewind time, so fans have expected a character with some sort of superpower to appear in the next Life is Strange game. The protagonist of Captain Spirit, a young boy named Chris, is a child who constantly pretends to be a superhero, so there are several instances in which he’ll use one of his “superpowers,” only to then reveal the practical effect that went into him using his “power,” like when he pretends to lift one of his toys with telekinetic powers, only for the camera to zoom out and reveal that he’s just picking the toy up with his other hand. Whether Chris will have any actual superpowers remains to be seen.
In true Life is Strange fashion, there are tons of objects to interact with in Captain Spirit. Chris’s room is full of toys and the rest of the house has plenty of interactivity as well. The gameplay that was shown had Chris only interact with a few things, so those curious about what everything else will do will just have to play the game when it comes out later this month. Among these various interactable objects will be clues with which the player can try to piece together connections to the greater Life is Strange world. One example that was given in the presentation was a letter that Chris can find in the garage that shows that his now deceased mother attended Blackwell Academy, one of the settings of the first Life is Strange.
Interacting with or not interacting with certain objects will also determine how later events in the game play out. In the presentation, we see Chris take on one of his many “missions,” in particular the one involving him having to turn on the water heater. The water heater takes the form of the villainous Water Eater in Chris’s imagination, so normally Chris would be too afraid to take this mission on. However, if you chose to put on your superhero cape at the beginning of the game, Chris will overcome his fear and let his alter ego Captain Spirit take on the monster. And, of course, the narrative path you end up taking will change depending on the dialogue choices you make.
There are also ways in which Captain Spirit deviates from the Life is Strange formula. For example, Chris can interact with objects in different ways; either as normal Chris, or by using a “superpower” as Captain Spirit. Also, Chris’s imagination will sometimes completely overtake reality, effectively transporting the player into a fantastical world where Chris is a superhero with powers taking on various monsters and villains. It seems that, just as how Life is Strange attempted to emulate the constant drama of teenagehood, Captain Spirit looks to capture the magic and sense of adventure of childhood.
All in all, DONTNOD’s new game looks absolutely delightful. And I normally don’t care for stories centering around child characters, as I often think they try too hard to be cute. Apparently, the game should take more or less two hours to get through, depending on how much exploring you do. I can already tell that I’ll probably spend at least three hours with it because I’ll want to explore everything in this game that I can. The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit launches on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC on June 26 and will be completely free. More details about Life is Strange 2 are set to be announced sometime in the coming couple of months, and decisions made in Captain Spirit will carry over to Life is Strange 2.