Developer: Double Fine
by: Marc "Djinniman" Allie
Costume Quest, as you could probably surmise from the title, is a role playing game that takes place on the evening of Halloween. A pair of siblings goes out to trick or treat, and one, dressed as a candy corn, is taken away by a monstrous villain with a sweet tooth. The other sibling must recruit a rescue force to retrieve the taken child, and be home before bedtime.
For the most part, Costume Quest plays like a light RPG, with turn based combat. Unlike most modern games of the genre, the characters in Costume Quest have very limited options, consisting of a basic attack, a time-based special, and perhaps an occasional minor purchasable ability. Progression elements are similarly simple. Some might feel that the RPG conventions in the game are watered down, but that is unfair. More accurately, they could be described as streamlined; in this age of stat-obsessed games of all genres, I found this elegant simplicity refreshing.
The visual style of the game is one of the highlights. The art and character design truly makes you feel that twinge of excitement and fun, with just a hint of menace, that can only be found on Halloween. When combat begins, characters transform into idealized versions of their costumes, and use all manner of impressive (though repetitive) animations to defeat foes. This contrast between the simple, almost hokey costumes and the gorgeously rendered characters in battle scenes brings to mind the tremendous imagination inside the mind of a kid when they are dressed up for Halloween.
There’s very little not to like about Costume Quest, but if I were to pick one thing, it would be the sameness of the encounters. From start to finish, you’ll be fighting quite a bit, but nearly all combats will play out the same way. There isn’t much variety in foes, and most costumes work very well together without much need for special tactics. Another minor issue is that it takes a bit too long to recruit enough friends to help recover the missing kid.
The writing is quite enjoyable, and there is a good dose of humor throughout the game. The protagonists are likable and the bad guys are bald-faced caricatures of far scarier monsters. Costume Quest is the perfect title to enjoy with a young gamer. They will love the characters, scour the neighborhood for costume pieces, and try on new ones for all manner of situations. The total game time is around five to six hours, which is also just right for kids to enjoy. I had a great time watching my nine-year old son play, giving tips here and there. It’s a rare game that is appropriate for a youngster, yet still compelling for an adult, as well. I heartily recommend Costume Quest, and look forward to more adventures in the winter-based DLC coming next month.