Costume Quest Review

Halloween may have passed, but you can still enjoy the spookiness of Double Fine’s latest production, Costume Quest, a downloadable title recently released on the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live.

Reynold and Wren go trick or treating on Halloween and get more than they bargained for, when a group of hideous monsters who are gathering up all the candy they can kidnap one of the siblings due to mistaken identity, on the count of one of the two being dressed as candy. The other is dressed as a giant robot and engages the monsters in pitched combat in order to save them.

It is clear even from first impressions that Costume Quest is not dissimilar from most other Tim Schafer productions, in that it contains witty humour, fantastical and imaginative settings and gameplay elements, and a unique art style.

Costume Quest Battle
A giant robot and a huge knight fighting an orc? Pinch me.

Costume Quest involves the player exploring various neighbourhoods and completing quests in order to stop the evil monster’s plot, and further the whole “rescue your brother/sister ” thing. Locating materials is also a key element, as they can be used to fashion costumes, which have uses in both exploration and combat. The player starts as the aforementioned Transformer-esque robot, and can, after finding the appropriate materials, transform into other monsters or creatures.

Alwaaaaaaaaays I wanna beeeee with youuuu.

The exploration parts of the game is unchallenging for the most part. The quests that can be found are few, and often repeat themselves in later areas of the game. This is fine if you’re really into bobbing for apples or finding children who are hiding in the bushes, but it is still somewhat lacking. This may change with your view however, as the limited options for side-quests keep the game focused. In other words, at least you won’t be searching for gold in the jungles of Tanzania.

The costumes are imaginative, and sometimes downright hilarious and wacky, but there seem to be too few of them. The game is indeed an inexpensive downloadable one, but there remains a feeling of lost potential somewhat. Some costumes can have useful effects outside of battle, like sneaking past enemies. Other costume effects are used only once and never again.

The combat is turn-based, and each character (or costume to be more accurate) has only two attacks – a basic attack and a special attack. The basic attack is performed on the enemy of your choice, and involves a quick-time event of some form, which changes from costume to costume, based on its type. This is fine and allows for easy playability and understanding, as this is indeed targeted to younger audiences too.

The repetitive nature of the combat, however, may be an issue for some players, and the level system is never fully realised, which may be put down to the length of the game. The idea of magic use or status effects like poison or burn is not fully fleshed out either. On the bright side however, the Anthem healing ability (which you’ll be seeing a lot) is ten times more awesome when lady liberty is flaming.

Everything is better with more fire.

The story is aptly simplistic and fun, based around Halloween, candy and evil monsters. The game is fun to play, the dialogue enjoyable to read, and the costumes fun to collect; but even for a downloadable title which is relatively inexpensive – length is an issue. Specifically, the lack of it. This raises further issues with the stamp bonuses not being completely necessary, and therefore this renders the local currency of candy rather worthless. The battle mechanics can praised for their simplicity, yet at the same time, battles require more depth.

I would recommend playing Costume Quest, as it’s cheap, the download is small, it’s fun, and it doesn’t outstay its welcome, if you want to look at it like that.

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