About a year and a half ago, I saw an online trailer for a video game that really intrigued me from the second i laid eyes on it. Being a video game, I have this weird expectation that all games involve shooting up aliens or terrorists or monsters of every shape and size. Games where you fight your way through a horde of zombies or drive through the streets delivering the smackdown to local gangsters…and occasionally fighting in a tournament where ripping your opponent’s heart out of his chest is not only acceptable, but encouraged! However…out of nowhere, comes the game “Life Is Strange”, and it changed my outlook on what a game could be nowadays. An award winning title for its originality and depth of character and story, “Life Is Strange” plays less like an action/sci-fi movie, and more like a coming of age indie flick that you might find in the dark corners of your local video store. I shared it on the Shack Out Back and wanted to know how people felt about it. Especially since the game contains material where the two female leads are in love. I can remeber a time, not long ago, where such an idea wasn’t possible. A gay relationship in a video game? No WAY! It would have been snatched off the shelves so fast it’d make your head spin! I can remember a Playstation title named “Bully” that was met with harsh criticism and extreme pressure simply because you had the option to make your character ‘gay’ if you wanted to. You could even get yourself a boyfriend if you wanted to. Well, parents were having NONE of that. Not in a video game for their kids. Strange…the ‘bullying’ part of the game was just fine. But homosexuality? Well, they just had to shut that down, didn’t they? Got forbid.

But “Life Is Strange” didn’t flinch at all when it came to having two high school girls falling in love, and this time…it doesn’t seem as though anyone batted an eye. Because…progress. Am I right? Hehehe! The protagonists, Max, and the free spirited Chloe, meet in school, and through a series of events become close to one another. It turns into a full blown adventure where you, as the player, get to make all of the choices that will ultimately shape the events that both girls have to deal with along the way. A VERY cool game with a bit of a sci fi twist to it. You can find demos and trailers for it on Youtube if you go searching for it. It makes for a good time!

Now, we come to the Summer of 2018…

After the success of their first game, “Life Is Strange” is getting ready to release a sequel (Or, technically, a spinoff) for the newest gaming systems. One that takes place in the same world, but with a different main character. “The Awesome Adventures Of Captain Spirit” was a rather interesting demo that was released in June as a prequel to this brand new addition to the series. You can play through the whole thing in about an hour, maybe an hour and a half, and you take on the role of ‘Chris’, a 10 year old boy with a wild imagination who wants to become a real life superhero, all while dealing with the somewhat recent passing of his mother. He lives with his father who is…ummm…well, let’s just say there won’t be any ‘World’s Greatest Dad’ mugs to be found in the kitchen cabinets! He’s not a complete villain or anything, but to say that he’s a flawed individual would be putting it lightly. He has his fair share of golden moments though. Enough to keep him from being completely unlikeable. He’s just dealing with the death of Chris’ mother too, and not always in the best of ways. The emotional bond between the two…sometimes great, sometimes scary…really tugs at the heartstrings from time to time. It’s a truly immersive experience once you figure things out, and I highly recommend checking it out if you get the chance. Especially since…it’s absolutely FREE! Yes, you can download the entire game to your system without paying a single penny, and enjoy it from beginning to end. How awesome is that?

I have to admit that I was touched by this game. The wave of nostalgia that swept over me while playing was soooo amazing! I smiled until my cheeks hurt! Hehehe! For a great deal of the game, you literally just get to ‘play’. Seriously. You get to grab your action figures, sit on your bedroom floor…and just play. Or go out in the snow. Or climb up to your treehouse and enjoy your Saturday morning. You get to fantasize about being the superhero, ‘Captain Spirit’…master of matter…and just have fun for a while. You get to pick your costume details, and take on a list of challenges toget you through the day, beating the boredom as best as you can.The character of Chris is about as sweet and adorable as a video game character can be, and it’s a treat to learn more about him and his life, eventually becoming him as you move forward.

The soundtrack is a great addition to the game as well, and it fits every scene perfectly, in my opinion. It has tht mellow, laid back, coming of age feel that you would expect from a game or movie with this theme. And then, there are some parts of the story that I found heartbreaking. Playing this game, chances are you’re going to have moments when you really feel bad for the poor kid. And others when you just want to cheer him on and help him to have the best weekend that he can. I couldn’t believe how quickly I connected with this game, and how I found myself falling back into old habits as I began making the same choices (Both good and bad) with his father without even thinking about it. It was a weird experience for me, to say the least.

Following Chris on his exploits, from playing with toys, to conversations with his dad, to doing something as mundane as washing the dishes and microwaving a small bowl of maccaroni, has become an entertaining experience again. Just like when we were kids, and all of life was a game, and every imaginary battle was as epic as any movie ever made. The programmers did an absolutely marvelous job of capturing that aspect of being a kid again. Play it for ten minutes, and you’ll see exactly what I mean. There were many times when I just had to shake my head and think, “Omigod! I was that kid, growing up!” Hehehe, I may not have been an all-star on the basketballl court…but you give me some colored pencils and paper, a few comic books, and a story to tell…and I was your number one guy! LOVED it! So it gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling inside to remember what that was like.

Gameplay is simple. You follow the story as it rolls along, and you make decisions based on whatever situation you happen tobe dealing with at that particular moment. Do you run to the breakfast table the moment your dad calls for you? Or do you tell him to hold on for a second? You’re PLAYING, for goodness sakes! That’s much more important! Geez! Dads don’t know anything. Hehehe! Do you check out some of your favorite drawings? Or do you take on the scary task of possibly seeing what’s in the basement? Even when you’re just having fun with a few action figures, you’re given the choice of being the hero or punishing the villain in a very ‘unheroic’ fashion. I know that a lot of this sounds simple to many of you, but it really is a lot of fun. You’ve got to try it out at least once to see what it’s like.

And…there’s only MORE to come!

Now that the Summer of 2018 has come to an end, those same programmers are ready to bring the full video game title to the fans who have been thirsting for more! “Life Is Strange 2” is set for a September 27th release this year, and if you guys have already played the prequel and have been anxiously awaiting a full blown experience with Chris and his newest adventure…you don’t have much longer to wait at all. A teaser was released to show us a glimpse of what happens next, and where the story is headed from the end of the original demo. It’s sure to be something special when it gets released! So keep your eyes open for it!

I’m not quite sure how much time has supposedly passed since Chris’ original adventure, or how the two stories connect, but it looks as if the story continues on with the boy next door and, I’m assuming, his older brother…who are both on the run. (Don’t ask. Hehehe, I have no idea what that’s about. But something does happen at the end of the prequel that may explain some things. No spoilers.) So, what journey will be taking place in this new part of the story? And will Captain Spirit make an appearance, or possibly even play a major role? We’ll just have to pick up the game and find out, I guess. Word about thenew game is still sort of ‘hush hush’ at the moment.

If youre tired of constantly playing games where you’re putting bullets through your enemies’ heads or brutally beating them down in a rage…and just want to sit back and entertain yourself with a playable movie that will make you laugh, cry, cheer, and gasp with surprise…try the “Awesome Adventures Of Captain Spirit”! You won’t be disappointed!

Also (As a bonus), the main character of the game’s story, ‘Chris’, is voiced by a young actor named Chandler Mantione. Only 12 at the time of recording the vocals for this, I think he did a great job. Below is a video reaction, where Chandler and his older cousin are playing the game all the way through. It seems that this is the very first time that either one of them is seeing the completed project for the first time. Which is pretty cool. Obviously, there are spoilers in this video! So if you’d rather play through it on your own and make your own decisions in the game…do that first, then come back and watch this video later! But if you’ve played it already, or you just aren’t a gamer yourself, then sit back and enjoy. Commentary and all!

Nothing wrong with having a little fun every now and then! Always remember that! Stay gold, Pony Boy! 😛

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