Costume Quest

October 24, 2010

Brought to us by the makers of Psychonauts and Brutal Legend, Costume Quest is Double Fine’s first RPG. They’ve managed to take the genre and give us a game based around Halloween: a pair of twins go trick-or-treating and end up getting tangled in a quest of defeating candy-stealing monsters while the player’s character saves their kidnapped twin.

In terms of gameplay, Costume Quest adheres to the Halloween theme rather well. The player chooses the twin they want to play as and the two skip off to trick-or-treat. Upon discovering monsters are stealing the neighborhood’s candy, Reynolds or Wren engage the monsters in battle by becoming the outfit they’re wearing. What may be a cardboard robot at first becomes a giant robot complete with exploding fists and missile barrages.

The costumes function as a class system with each one having its strengths and weaknesses. The Knight has strong defense and defends the party, while the Statue of Liberty can heal. But the battle system isn’t as complex as it might sound. While playing it I saw a lot of parallels to the Paper Mario games. Every costume has two attacks: a normal attack and a time-charged super attack. The normal attacks function like quick-time events where if you do the task on-screen, more damage is done. While simplistic in how it is constructed, the battle system kept me engaged, as once I was done attacking I couldn’t put down the controller and wait for the enemies to attack thanks to the defense-increasing quick-time commands.

Costume Quest also appears to borrow material from Paper Mario with its Battle Stamps. These are equippable accessories the player can put on their costumes for increased passive attributes, or an additional command in battle, and helps to give the gameplay a bit of strategy. Should I make my Fry Monster have a counter-attack or should I allow it to stun enemies by throwing rotten eggs? The choices were numerous.

Outside of battle, the player is free to roam through three main areas completing quests and searching for candy and hidden items. The game is linear, so there’s no aimless wandering or open-ended gameplay to distract your or shy you away from your goal of trick-or-treating and rescue. As a cool bit of added functionality, several of the costumes have functions outside of battle: the Robot has jet skates that allow you to jump ramps and the Space Warrior’s light-up sword functions like a flashlight to get the player through dark areas.

Visually, the game is gorgeous. The cel-shading really brings out the character and kid-like joy associated with Halloween while still managing to shine when the game shifts to the Godzilla-esque battle sequences. I never had a problem with the camera or the visuals at any given time.

The audio, on the other hand, was a bit different. The music seemed a bit repetitive at times and would fluctuate in its dynamics. Outside of battle the music was soft or quiet but when I’d get into battle, there’d be a recognizable audio increase that threw me off occasionally.

Overall, Costume Quest is a great game that manages to bring back the spirit of Halloween with a fresh concept for an RPG. For $15, you get a simple and fun adventure that doesn’t overstay its welcome or water down the experience with things like random drop rates or level grinding.

Pros: Engaging and active gameplay, great humor and writing, visually beautiful, has the right amount of length and content for what it tries to do.

Cons: Audio volume seemed a little unbalanced, not a whole lot of replay value.

Score: 5/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.