Captain Spirit Review
a unique experience 7/10
Rarely, does a game defy definition. Rarely does a game make you question what it is to be a game. DONTNOD does not cease to amaze with their passion project "The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit."
For those who don’t know, Captain Spirit is set in the growing Life is Strange universe. What is unusual is this game is a completely free title. In an era where all free games have some other form of monetization, and are in the mobile or esport category, Captain Spirit is a solo story experience. It isn’t really what you expect to see in the free games section. DONTNOD tells a complete story, but what it really is is a separate prologue to get people excited for Life is Strange 2. You wouldn’t know it though, as it contains its own short story arch and characters simply set in the LISUniverse. It doesn’t FEEL like a prologue. Captain Spirit manages to quickly get you invested in the life of a small boy Chris, who lives alone with his Dad. With no spoilers, Players quickly learn that the mother is gone. The premise of the story is simple, Chris is off all day and gets to play around the house, while Dad watches the football game on the TV. It sounds like a very simple story, and admittedly, it is. However, what follows is a fun and nostalgia filled journey of a small child using his imagination to play various super hero based games. There are are tons of little clues around the house, mainly about what happened to Chris’s mom, and what happened to Chris’ relationship with his Dad. It is heavily implied in the very beginning that post his wife’s death, Chris’s Dad gained quite a drinking problem, and probably has abused Chris. This is revealed at the beginning so isn’t really a spoiler. You get an emotional weight from the story knowing that Chris and his Dad have a pretty uneasy relationship: an innocent boy wanting to love and defend his father dispite his flaws.
Chris goes around the house and the yard going on imaginary adventures going through a check list to do list. This encourages the player to explore and look at every clue in the area. For a "prologue like" game, players may be surprised to learn the game itself contains its very own mini game. If you figure out how to unlock Chris’s Dad’s phone there is a side scrolling jet pack game called Hot Dog Man.
Near the end, Chris has a imaginative adventure where he meets the “arch villain” he has been referring to through the entire game. We as the player learn where Chris derived the name and the unexpected significance to his story. The emotional weight of this reveal was unexpectedly deep.
After completing all the adventures, the player goes to wake up the dad who has fallen asleep watching football. What happens is both unexpected and at the same time seen coming. We also get a small twist that reveals some details of Life is Strange 2.
Captain Spirit is only 2-4 hours long so this isn’t a game that will eat up much of your time. It is also small, only taking place in a house and yard. That being said…it is FREE. I found it difficult to determine how to rate a free prologue masquerading as a game. It had the emotion and story of a full game but with appropriately shorter play time for a free title. While it isn’t anything we haven’t seen for Life is Strange, it is definitely worth a quick play through.