A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit is a mature interactive story adventure that's available for download on the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Windows PC. The game follows a young boy who's coping with real-world issues by using his imagination -- and his fantasy of being a comic book superhero. There's some mild violence when the boy, Chris, plays with his action figures and as he enjoys his make-believe adventures. It's also implied that Chris has been physically hurt by his father, who's fighting a losing battle with alcoholism. Throughout the game, Chris' father swears directly at Chris on occasion and can be heard using profanity in the background, cursing at the television with frequent use of "f--k," "s--t," "ass," and more.
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What's it about?
THE AWESOME ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN SPIRIT tells the story of a kid who's tied a blanket around his neck as a cape and zoomed off for adventure, pretending to be his favorite comic book superhero. Nine-year-old Chris Eriksen uses his imagination to become Captain Spirit, venturing forth to defend humanity from the evil Mantroid and his cadre of supervillains. While Chris may run into things like a broken water heater and a snowman in real life, it's Captain Spirit who faces off against the likes of the menacing "Water Eater" and "Snowmancer." For Chris, real life is tough: He's coping with the loss of his loving mother and caring for a father who finds solace in the bottom of a bottle. But as Captain Spirit, Chris finds the strength to carry on, and players get a glimpse at the reality of his world. Is it possible there's even more to Chris' story?
Is it any good?
This emotional tale will tug at players' heartstrings while engaging them in a larger adventure surrounding a little boy who's going through a very challenging time. Like anyone needing a break from reality from time to time, Chris could use a little escapism. The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit tells the story of the fantasy he creates to cope with the world around him. Players take on the role of an observer, guiding Chris' journey and discovering bits and pieces of his family life along the way. From the start, it's hard not to feel empathy for his situation and admire how, in spite of the issues he faces, he keeps his attitude positive. What the game lacks in fast-paced action or mind-bending puzzles, it more than makes up for in heart and emotion. In many ways, it feels less like a game and more like an interactive movie.
While Captain Spirit is a self-contained story, it also serves as an introduction to the Life Is Strange 2 game. Some of the choices you make here will affect events there. And it's also a story that's meant to be played multiple times, which is good because it's a pretty short experience. From start to finish, Chris' story clocks in at about two hours. That might be hard to swallow if this was a full retail release, but if you look at it as one chapter in a greater story (and a free chapter at that), it's a great way to visit the Life Is Strange universe and to introduce newcomers to the emotional journey that usually comes with it. Still, even on its own, Captain Spirit manages to do something amazing. It genuinely pulls at your heartstrings as you view the world through the prism of Chris' imagination. And when the credits finally roll, you'll be left with a sense of hope -- and a desire to learn what's still to come.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about alcohol abuse. What are some of the symptoms and signs of alcoholism? What are some ways that alcoholism can affect loved ones? What sorts of treatments are available for alcoholics -- and for those having to cope with the alcoholism?
What are some positive and negative ways to work through tragedy and grief? What should kids do when they're facing unhealthy and harmful behavior from those they care about?
Other than Chris' resilience, what other character strengths does he demonstrate in The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit? Why is it challenging to remain positive in the face of problems like Chris'?
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