08th Jan2019

‘The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit’ Review (PS4)

by Xenia Grounds

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With the new episode of Life is Strange 2 ‘Rules’ getting closer to its release, it makes sense to review the prequel to it: The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit. This DLC came out long before we knew anything about Life is Strange 2 so playing it again after playing through the first episode of LiS2 makes the DLC a bit different.

You don’t need to have played any of Life is Strange beforehand to play this DLC. There are little Easter Eggs for fans to enjoy but other than that, it is its own thing. On a serious note, since this could be triggering, I will mention that The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit contain themes such as abuse, alcoholism and grief in its two-hour campaign if you choose to play it. While I do recommend playing this DLC for reasons I’ll mention in this review, it can be upsetting at times but very purposely so.

The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit follows nine-year-old Chris Eriksen who has a troubled relationship with his widowed and alcoholic father, Charles. Chris deals with the hardships in his life through his active imagination and being his superhero alter-ego, Captain Spirit. The heart of this DLC lies with this escalating and problematic dynamic. Charles isn’t a complete monster. He probably was a good father prior to his wife passing away but his issues are shown to be getting increasingly worse. For instance, he’s punched his bedroom door hard enough to make a fist-sized dent, he shouts at his son frequently and swears a lot around Chris or at him. You can understand why Chris needs his highly imaginative outlet because he’s so isolated from his dad and the winter setting symbolises how cold the relationship between father and son has become.

Chris and his active imagination is where the gameplay comes in. Like most kids, Chris wants to make errands around the house more fun. He does this by imagining the water heater in a dark room as a monster he needs to tame or using discarded beer cans as targets for a snowball shooting range. As Captain Spirit, you get to go to your archenemy’s (Mantroid) planet by using the Spiritmobile or blowing up the snowman in the backyard. It will remind you of those days of innocence and childhood pretty well while giving players different types of gameplay like puzzles, combat and shooting mechanics. You don’t have to complete everything on the checklist to finish the DLC but the best parts of the DLC are only seen if you take the time to look at the items around the house and cross things off Chris’s list.

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That said, it isn’t all fun and games as some things do take a heartbreaking turn. The mother is dead and the tragedy of her loss is heavily shown. Some of Chris’s adventures as Captain Spirit capture the trauma and sadness he feels about her death. No spoilers but the name ‘Mantroid’ becomes very dark when you realise what it symbolises.

Admittedly, there doesn’t feel like there’s much weight to the choices you make as it’s apparent now that the real consequences are waiting in Life is Strange 2. Having played the first episode, it’s nice to spot the things that were foreshadowed for it in The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit.

The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit is good. It has serious themes this series is known for while also providing the power and beauty of the imagination. It’s not known how much of Captain Spirit will factor into ‘Rules’ yet but I have a feeling that if you do play this, things will fall into place a lot quicker in ‘Rules’. I can’t wait to see how LiS2 Episode 2 will continue the story from where the DLC ends but I am looking forward to seeing Chris again on the 24th January.

Expect a review for Life is Strange 2 – Episode 1: ‘Roads’ to be coming soon.

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