A charming adventure game that shows how one kid finds joy in life, even in difficult circumstances.
The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit is a new game in the Life is Strange series, and it follows the story of a boy named Chris, aka Captain Spirit, who uses his active imagination to cope with abuse, neglect, alcoholism, and other tough stuff that kids have to deal with in real life. Captain Spirit manages to pull it off in the most charmingly authentic way possible, and while this game isn’t meant for kids, it can provide a unique opportunity to address these topics with older teens at home.
What is it?
The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit is an adventure game. It’s focused on exploration and puzzles, so there’s no combat or complex mechanics to grasp in order to excel. This free game in the Life is Strange series follows Chris, a young boy living in rural Oregon, as he goes through a typical Saturday with his dad. You control Chris’ actions as he plays with his toys, builds his Captain Spirit costume, and, if you’re so willing, does chores around the house.
What’s the point of the game?
The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit is a narrative driven game, so it’s all based on story. The story unfolds in the way that you, the player, determine. There are things that you must do to advance the timeline, but you don’t have to do everything on Chris’ heroic “to do” list before you complete the game. The point of any Life is Strange game is to, well, feel -- to feel for the characters that you’re playing as or alongside and feel for the story as it’s revealed.
Life is Strange games deal with heavy topics, and The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit doesn’t slouch away from one of few topics that touch a child’s life in the worst way: abuse. Much of the game itself isn’t centered around the topic, because Chris just wants to be a superhero. Not just any superhero: Captain Spirit.
Can kids play this game?
It depends on how old your kids are. This isn’t a game for young children, even though it’s colorful and witty and Chris is so charming that he makes your heart ache. But if your kids are too young for the mainline Life is Strange games, The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit is a good introduction. Chris (and his alter ego, Captain Spirit) doesn’t go around lamenting his life, even though it really isn’t great. He’s a superhero. Chris is kind, gentle, imaginative, creative, and has the kind of sincerity that only a kid has access to. And Captain Spirit is a hero to people of all kinds.
This isn’t a game to let your older kiddo play on their own, however. The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit deals with the death of a parent, alcoholism, child abuse, neglect, and a whole lot of loneliness along the way. There are a number of teaching moments and opportunities to connect with your child during The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit. Allowing them to dive in on their own without you being there to provide context or support in the moments where things get intense or emotional means that they could either come away feeling pretty poorly or they may not understand the importance of the themes in the game.
Why should kids experience this game, even if they shouldn't do it alone?
We’re living in an age where empathy is hard to come by -- we see more and more that toxicity and cyberbullying are normalized. That isn’t because people are devolving into neanderthals, either. It’s because we aren’t seeing one another anymore. We’re not seeing the world through someone else’s eyes. We’re not connecting to experiences that aren’t our own.
The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit is a window into the troubled life of a little boy and his dad. It gives some perspective as to how children grapple with death and abuse while finding the joy in life, no matter how hard it is to see it sometimes. It gives breath to the fantastical without trivializing Chris’ pain and sorrow. It’s hopeful. But more than anything, it can show your kiddo a life that they’ll never know, but may be touched by at one time or another. Perhaps it’s at school. Perhaps it’s on the playground. Maybe it’ll help your child understand that not all parents are like you (or me) -- and that children are the most resilient creatures on the planet.
Do you recommend buying it?
The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit is a free game available for download on Xbox One, PC, and PlayStation 4 (but not Nintendo Switch), so it’s not a matter of purchase price. But yes, I recommend downloading this game, sitting down with your kids, and having some hard, but worthwhile, conversations about the themes that The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit presents throughout the game.
And, of course, to enjoy Chris’ sweetness, his playfulness, and his adventures as Captain Spirit.