I got to see some of The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit in action while at E3, and it looks like I’m going to get gut punched hard by whatever misfortune will like come to this kid. Captain Spirit is going to be an emotional journey, I’m sure, and I can’t wait to play through it once it comes out for free on June 26th for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.
The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit is all about exactly what’s in the title of the game. From the start you’ll be able to help create the design of Captain Spirit through Chris' drawings, and then you start off on quests to defeat monsters and solve the world’s (his home’s) problems. A battle with the water heater will become one of epic proportions, a monster that fills the sky that must be defeated by Captain Spirit.
This is brought to life by the creative flairs of Chris manifesting before your eyes in video game form. We’ll see what that water heater monster looks like in-game, through Chris' eyes, to then cut to just a leaking water heater in the real world. While exploring around the house, you’ll have the opportunity to see things from the Chris' view point or from Captain Spirit’s, which always puts a fun twist on the world around you.
Being a narrative heavy game, Captain Spirit’s key relationship is between Chris and his father. The short demo I saw showed an awesome dad who would play along with his son’s imagination, at one point acting like a zombie who Captain Spirit had just defeated. The dad makes his breakfast and indulges his kid’s whimsy, which gives the impression of a truly happy kid. At least in the short bit that I saw.
However, there are some subtle and not so subtle hints that not all is well. For one, the dad is having a beer with breakfast, and that’s not because he works a night shift and just got off work. If Chris questions him, he gets very angry and says he doesn't need his kid questioning him. Once Chris is done with breakfast, dad turns to the living room to watch some basketball. If you go take a look, you’ll notice that the beer has turned into some harder stuff with a higher alcohol content.
While you’re going around to find the pieces to put together the suit for Captain Spirit, I noticed a few other things that showed not all is well. Chris is more concerned with his imagination at the moment so he doesn't take note, but there’s clear signs that something happened to mom all around him. Missing pictures, packed boxes with things for mom, and a parent’s room obviously only occupied by one parent (and some beer cans). Chris presses on through all of it, even ignoring the fist-shaped dent in the door.
I’m getting this odd feeling that this is less a game about Captain Spirit and Chris, and more about the dad and what losing his wife, leaving him an only father, has done to him. Having played Life Is Strange, I’m just setting myself up mentally for something terrible to happen. The dent in the door and the reaction at breakfast point to a dad with anger problems, but nothing was shown that made me believe any violence is directed towards Chris. With that said, we don't know what a alcoholic with anger issues may do in an out of control moment.
In any case, Captain Spirit looks to be a fun that will give you the chance to see your childhood imagination come to life. However, behind all that lurks something darker. Anyone who has lived with an alcoholic family member, or anyone they are close to, will see some shockingly accurate signs. So, I say buckle up for an emotional journey that looks into loss, grief, alcoholism, domestic violence, a child's imagination, parenting, and a whole lot more. What a mix.