Double Fine Productions’ latest take on gaming comes in the form of the downloadable role-playing game, Costume Quest. The title aims to bring back the joy of trick-or-treating alongside the satisfaction of kicking candy-loving monster butt. It doesn’t fail.
The game’s premise is simple: it’s Halloween night and twins Reynold and Wren are outside for the same reason any other kid is — to get candy. Along with your sister or brother — you can choose to play as the either boy or girl twin — you’ll venture out into the Auburn Pines suburbs with nothing but candy on the brain. However, after your candy-corn-costume-wearing sibling is abducted by monsters who’ve come to collect the city’s candy, players take on a quest to save them.
There are three main locations in Costume Quest, each somewhat vast in size. Auburn Pines is where the game picks off, as well as the neighborhood where Reynold and Wren reside; the Autumn Haven Mall is the city’s shopping district which apparently stays open for children on Halloween night; and finally the Fall Valley is a sort of village and carnival area in one — complete with fat stuntmen.
Each location has players clearing all homes of candy in order to advance. Sometimes, you’ll ring the doorbell and instantly receive candy; other times, you’ll instead be greeted by a monster whom you’ll have to fight. Clearing every home opens a gate that allows players to continue the story. Each location has a few side-quests aside the main objective for players to complete, however, they don’t really vary between areas. You’ll see the same apple bobbing, card collecting, and hide-n-seek side-quests in each location. That’s not to say they’re not fun, though, but they are a tad bit repetitive.
Battles in Costume Quest stick to the classic RPG turn-based system. However, in order to keep players involved in the fight, the team at Double Fine has implemented real-time actions that the player needs to accomplish in order to do more damage to, or take less damage from, enemies. For example, players can select an enemy to attack and, before the attack initiates, they’d have to press X/A at a certain time in order to inflict them with a greater amount of damage.
Rather than fight as the children you control outside of battle, players instead take form of their costumes. Throughout the course of the game, the player will obtain eleven costumes that they and their two companions can use in battle. Most of the costumes are pretty cool, boasting a selections like a robot, knight, space warrior, or ninja. When in battle, each costume has their basic attack and a special attack. Special attacks charge up over the course of a few turns and, depending on the costume, are either offensive or defensive. As one would expect, they generally do more damage than the standard attack.
There are several power-ups the player can use in battle called ‘Battle Stamps’. These are purchased via the neighborhood’s rising entrepreneur, Sadie, who sells the Battle Stamps for candy. Only one Battle Stamp per character can be equipped at a time. Power-ups include the ability to counter-attack, increase strength, stun enemies, etc. Unfortunately, players can not obtain multiple copies of the same Battle Stamp, meaning that you’ll never have all three of your characters counterattacking simultaneously — they can’t all be equipped the counter-attack stamp at once. Oh well, you can’t have it all, can you?
Costumes are the core of Costume Quest, so we can’t forget to talk about their abilities outside of battle. There are plenty of obstacles the player will face while not in battle than only a certain costume’s ability can bypass. For example, to pass a ramp, a player must use their robot costume’s rollerskating ability; to pass a dark area, the space warrior’s light must be used; and to sneak past people, the ninja’s stealth ability is key. I like how Double Fine implemented all these abilities as they make costumes feel a lot more significant. Not all costumes feature abilities outside of battle, though, but the majority of them do.
While Costume Quest is a role-playing game, it isn’t anything hardcore. The level cap is 10 and you’ll most likely get there by the time you reach the end of the game. Battles feel pretty basic, only offering the player the ability to attack, however, not providing them other options such as item use. It’s a fun little game, though, that you’ll no doubt have a blast playing. Its humorous narrative is sure to warm your heart. While short in completion time, I definitely have to say that it is one of the best downloadable games I’ve played all year; I only wish it were longer. How about jumping on ‘Candy Cane Quest,’ Double Fine? I’d play it!
Costume Quest was reviewed on PlayStation 3. The game was played to completion. All trophies were earned, as well. Costume Quest launches for PlayStation 3 on October 19, 2010 for $14.99 and for Xbox 360 on October 20, 2010 for 1200 Microsoft Points.