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E3 2018: Captain Spirit Interview with Dontnod Co-Creative Director Raoul Barbet

Dontnod Entertainment's Life is Strange is recognized as a coming-of-age tale of life in high school, broken homes, restoring friendships, pain, loss, and teenage angst. So it was surprising to hear that Dontnod is returning to the Life is Strange universe in a slightly different manner.

The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit is a tale of a young boy named Chris who gets lost in fantasy, becoming a make-believe superhero in his imagination to help him get through day-to-day life. His life is becoming more difficult by the day, with his father falling more and more to alcoholism following the loss of his mother.

There's a lot to learn about Chris, so to find out more, Shacknews hit the E3 floor to speak to Dontnod Co-Creative Director Raoul Barbet about Chris, his home life, improvements from the first Life is Strange, and also how this free episode will tease the upcoming Life is Strang 2.

Shacknews: Can you talk about Captain Spirit's link to the Life is Strange universe?

Raoul Barbet, Dontnod Co-Creative Director: After Life is Strange, we were beginning to work on a second season for Square Enix. When we were creating the story and the new characters, Captain Spirit/Chris was one of them. So we decided to create this demo/spin-off on Chris, so you'll find some links between each of the games (Life is Strange, Life is Strange 2, and Captain Spirit). If you play Captain Spirit, you'll see the consequences of your choices in Life is Strange 2. So they are linked together.

Shacknews: What can you tell us about Chris, the main character?

Barbet: So Chris is ten years old. He's quite a lonely boy. He lives with his father and they have a difficult relationship, as you've seen in the demo, because of their family history. So the player will be able to find a lot of information about Chris, his friends, of course the story of his father. I would say one of the main themes of the game is really to talk about imagination. The fact that when you're a ten-year-old boy, you can leave a difficult reality sometimes to play with your toys and imagine some new ones. So Chris is a character with a lot of imagination who pretends to be a superhero, so with this in mind, you can do a lot of fun stuff.

Shacknews: There seems to be a customization element to it, too. You can design his mask and his costume. How much of a customization element is there? Are there other things you can customize in the game?

Barbet: I won't talk too much about this, to let the players find out. But yes, Chris can do some small customizations like that, like his costume.

Shacknews: One common theme that this story and Life is Strange seem to share is the idea of a broken home. How does Captain Spirit deal with that theme differently?

Barbet: The very beginning of the story goes into how as a child, at ten years old, you're not an adult, of course, but you begin to realize some difficulties of adulthood. So we really wanted to talk about that. When you write a story and create characters, you have a backstory around the characters and Chris' story comes out at the beginning. You will see, it's because we wanted to talk about a specific theme, in this case, the theme of a father and his son that live together, but you will discover another meaning during Life is Strange 2. That's why we wanted to have this broken home.

Shacknews: Something you introduced here was the idea that you can make dialogue choices while on the move. You weren't able to do that before. What are some examples of what players can do with that?

Barbet: It's something we really wanted to do for Life is Strange 2. For example, if someone says "Hello," you're walking and you just want to answer directly. That was the first idea. As you're moving in the environment, you can interact with people, talk with them, etc. We tried to use it at some specific moments and also, even if you don't have any choice, sometimes you can talk to someone, like if you fall and someone goes "Are you okay?" and you're still in gameplay. It's a kind of dialogue that was easy to implement, but was very important to us.

Shacknews: Physically, does this story take place entirely in Chris' home?

Barbet: Between one and two hours of gameplay, the main environment is Chris' house and garden. And with his imagination, you can go elsewhere.

Shacknews: You've sort of alluded to this already, but in what ways will Captain Spirit help both the players and the development team prepare for Life is Strange 2?

Barbet: For the development team, of course, we have a new engine. From that point of view, it was very interesting to test some new techniques, new renderings, etc. For the player, it's a chance to discover a new character. The players are used to Arcadia Bay and that story, but here it is a new character and a new city. We have consequences, but most important, I think they will be prepared for the Life is Strange 2 story with this introduction.

Shacknews: And just to be clear, this does not take place in Arcadia Bay?

Barbet: No, it takes in Beaver Creek, another fictional city in Oregon.


This isn't all we heard about Captain Spirit. Hours after conducting this interview, I returned to the Shacknews booth for a live interview with Dontnod's other Co-Creative Director Michel Koch, where we dove further into this upcoming story. Be sure to check out that interview below.

The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit is set to arrive on June 26 on PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4, completely free of charge.

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