Operation Backlog Completion 2024
Jun 292018
 

When The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit was announced during E3 at Microsoft’s press conference, I commented that even though it looked lighthearted, I didn’t trust it since it’s a game from Dontnod (and set in the Life is Strange universe, no less).

My suspicions were well-placed.

The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit is free, takes about 2 hours or so to complete, and alternates between being cute and sad.

Gameplay is pretty much like it is in Life is Strange, except you can use Chris’s “superpowers” in various situations. Chris is a little boy who pretends to be a superhero called Captain Spirit, and most of the game follows the adventures he plays out around the house.

He’s also struggling to cope with the death of his mother, as well as his father’s newfound alcoholism and bouts of anger.

Oh.

There were times when Captain Spirit felt like a lighthearted nostalgia trip, but the underlying darkness always lurked nearby. If you enjoyed the parts of Life is Strange that discussed what Max and Chloe were like as kids, or the “Farewell” bonus episode to Before the Storm, you’ll probably enjoy The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit as well.

The very end teases two additional characters who will probably play a role in Life is Strange 2. The ending screen confirms that Chris will return in Life is Strange 2, but it’s unclear if he’ll be the protagonist or not. I think one of the two brothers will be the main character, especially with how they’re introduced.

Click for Captain Spirit spoiler
That scene looked to me like one of them has actual powers and saved Chris from falling.

Many parts of The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit made me smile, but it ultimately left me feeling sad. Still, we all know I’m going to play Life is Strange 2 no matter how depressing it is.

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Mar 072018
 

“Farewell,” the bonus episode for Life is Strange: Before the Storm, is available now.

It’s only about an hour long, and it doesn’t add much to the story, but I’d still like to share my thoughts on it.

(For a series where I’ve been dissatisfied with the conclusions of both games, I sure do end up writing about Life is Strange an awful lot.)

“Farewell” is a standalone episode that takes place earlier in the timeline, before Max moved away.

It manages to be both happy and heartbreaking at the same time: happy because you get to see Max and Chloe having fun together, and heartbreaking because you know how it all works out.

Happy, non-cynical Chloe is my favorite Chloe, so I enjoyed getting to see at least a little of her.

There really isn’t a lot to this episode. No big revelations, nothing much we didn’t already know… but it was short and sweet (and sad), and it filled me with nostalgia for the days when I was a kid hanging out with my friends. Back then, I couldn’t imagine anything more terrible than moving away and leaving my friends, so Max’s worries resonated with me.

And the ending hit me especially hard because of things that happened in my life earlier this year.

I think that’s part of what makes the Life is Strange games so effective despite their flaws. They feel real. They evoke nostalgia. Their endings might fall flat in some ways, but the journey there is strong.

So even though I have mixed feelings about both Life is Strange and Before the Storm, I enjoyed “Farewell” and I’m looking forward to learning more about Life is Strange 2. According to the official announcement, they’ll announce the story and characters in “the coming months.”

Maybe this time we’ll get a happy ending.

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Dec 222017
 

The final episode of Life Is Strange: Before the Storm is now out. There’s still the bonus episode, but since that isn’t part of the main story, we can consider Before the Storm complete.

In many ways, Before the Storm is a lot different than the original Life is Strange, and not just because the main character is Chloe. It doesn’t have the same intensity and darkness. Before the Storm could be emotional at times, but not in the same overwhelming way as the first game.

At times, it almost feels like more of a slice-of-life story, even though it definitely has some pretty serious moments. The first two episodes were fantastic and really made me excited to learn how everything would come together. Unfortunately, Episode 3 is easily the weakest.

It felt very linear, without a lot of important choices, and while that wouldn’t be bad if it brought everything from the first two episodes together into a solid conclusion, it didn’t quite manage that. It felt like it set things up but then didn’t follow through.

Click for Before the Storm spoilers
The fire was a huge moment at the end of Episode 1, but it remains a background event. Rachel doesn’t have powers, they don’t deal with the consequences of her causing so much destruction… nothing.

Why was Sera smiling at the end of Episode 1? Seeing her smile as the fire spread made her seem like a very sinister person, which doesn’t fit the Sera we see in Episode 3.

Moving on to Rachel, I didn’t expect Episode 3 to give a definite answer on whether or not Rachel was manipulative, but I thought it would come up. Maybe we’d see more evidence one way or another. Maybe Chloe would have to deal with figuring out Rachel’s intentions. Instead, it was dropped and only referenced by Eliot.

Ah, Eliot. My theory about Eliot turned out to be correct, but it felt pointless. I thought he would be tied into the plot somehow. Instead, the entire Eliot scene in Episode 3 could be removed and change nothing. Did they just want a stalker character? Or was the point to give all of the “Rachel is manipulative” arguments to a crazy character, so it could be shot down without dealing with it in a more meaningful way?

Finally, while I didn’t pursue a romantic path with Rachel, I get the impression I saw about as much romance in Episode 3 as anyone else did. Instead of continuing the Friendship/Romance split paths, Episode 3 returned to being more ambiguous no matter what you picked.

And strangely, while Before the Storm is Chloe’s story, it always felt like the story of Chloe and Rachel… until Episode 3, where their friendship takes a backseat to Rachel’s family, and Rachel herself is less present for a lot of the episode.

Still, Before the Storm had some fantastic moments, even if its conclusion wasn’t the best. The tabletop game in Episode 1, the play in Episode 2, most of the dream scenes… it was filled with great moments.

It also feels like a much happier story than the original, despite some emotional moments, as long as you pretend it isn’t a prequel. Since it is a prequel, it’s hard to escape the feeling that no matter what choices you make, you can’t really change anything.

Click for Life Is Strange (both) spoilers
I tried to make peace with David and accepted his photograph, but in three years, Chloe will still hate him.

My game ended with Nathan and Samantha happy together, but in three years he’ll be a wreck, not getting the help he needs, kidnapping and murdering people while being used and ultimately disposed of by Jefferson.

Chloe and Rachel are happy together now, but in three years, Rachel will be dead, and either Chloe or the entire town will have to die.

It was nice to go through Before the Storm thinking that maybe the right choices will actually create an alternate timeline not canon with the original game… but the post-credits scene destroyed any hope of that.

Just like with the original Life Is Strange, the conclusion of Before the Storm feels unsatisfactory and maybe like they intended to do something different and changed their minds near the end. Nevertheless, it still had many good moments and is even a somewhat happy story if you pretend it stands alone!

What did you think about Life Is Strange: Before the Storm?

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