Surprisingly, it was not too weird to play a Halloween-themed game in the middle of April. Much credit can go to Easter, another holiday that seems to revel in chocolate and candy and disgusting things like peeps. Having now played and immersed myself in Costume Quest, I can safely say I would have played it during any holiday, candy-filled or not. Yup, even on Frog Jumping Jubilee Day (May 19).
Costume Quest is an adventure RPG set in Schafer County, starring one of two squabbling siblings: Reynold or Wren. It’s Halloween night, and everybody’s out getting their share of candy. Including monsters. Your sister (or brother) is mistaken as a giant piece of candy thanks to a crude candy corn costume and taken hostage by the monsters. Soon, a trio forms, and the quest to save your sibling starts, spanning three large areas filled with monsters, candy, trick-or-treatin’, sidequests, and funny outfits.
Gameplay involves traversing around either the Auburn Pines Suburbs, the Autumn Haven Mall, or Fall Valley, fighting monsters, collecting candy, and completing quests from various NPCs.
The most unique element is, unfortunately, not the game’s strongest. Costume Quest has a cartoony look, with cel-shaded characters and vibrant areas. When a battle with a monster starts, our little costumed kids transform into giant versions of themselves, becoming a Transformers-like robot, a valiant knight, and a spider French Fry to name a few. That last one sounds scary, but it’s actually pretty adorable:
Battles then play out in a turn-based fashion, with only a few abilities to select. A special move charges up after two attacks. When one of the kids attacks, there’s a mini-QTE that can power up your punch; without this element, despite how un-fun QTE is, the battles would be beyond boring. They’d basically break down into attack, attack, special move, attack, attack, special move. Health is automatically restored to all kids after every battle, too. I did not have any troubles with the monsters or bosses in this game, and that’s not gloating, just a fact. So long as you set the right Battle Stamps in place and constantly pay attention to every QTE, you’ll be a-okay.
Another irk, at least for me, is that the text moved too fast to read at times. Why not let me press a button to continue with the text after I’ve read it? I understand that a lot of this is done to keep cutscenes moving forward, but boo…I missed out on some dialogue, and that’s a shame as this is a really funny game. Double Fine knows its jokes, and many great one-liners come from knocking on doors and discovering a monster lurking inside. Speaking of that…
NEIGHBOR: Who’s there?
PAULY: Trick or treat?
NEIGHBOR: Aren’t you a little old to be trick-or-treating?
PAULY: What? No, no.
NEIGHBOR: What’s your costume, anyways?
PAULY: I’m a struggling videogame blogger. Please give me a treat. Pleeeease.
NEIGHBOR: Fine. So long as you’ll leave.
Sweet Justice (25G): Finished the game!
Costume Quest could be summed up as “baby’s first RPG,” which is not as negative as I’m making it sound; it’s very safe, very easy, very friendly. But dang is it charming. The story and characters and funny costume ideas carry the quest through and through; just don’t go in expecting a deep battle system or anything that could be described as epic. Not sure if I’ll go after the DLC Grubbins on Ice as it just sounds a bit like more of the same.