Costume Quest, A Review

 

Costume Quest

From the minds of Tasha Harris and Tim Schafer, the creative genius behind Psychonauts, Brütal Legend, and The Secret Of Monkey Island, comes this cute and quirky downloadable title where monsters have invaded your neighborhood in an attempt to steal all the candy for their mysterious leader.

Today is Halloween, the one day in the year that you live for. Dressing up, going Trick-or-Treating for candy into the long hours of the night, and ultimately stuffing your face with all the spoils you collect. Your name is Wren or Reynold, depending on the gender you choose, and your mother tasks you with attempting to make friends because you had just moved. But you pay no mind, don your costumes, Wren as a piece of candy corn, Reynold as a robot, and you hit the streets.

The first stop goes well, you collect a lot of candy. But when you hit the next house things go horribly awry. Reynold decides that Wren’s costume is too embarassing to to be seen with. So Wren goes by herself and inadvertantly gets mistaken for a giant piece of candy corn and is snatched up by a monster looting the house for whole bunches of sugary treats. It’s up to you to find and rescue her, even if you don’t want to.


Addison – This year really seems to be the adding up to the revival of adorable games. Between Kirby’s Epic Yarn and The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, Costume Quest has a long road ahead of it to be crowned most adorable game of the year, but I think it has a chance. The “D’awww” factor is really hit upon in this game, but the “awesome” factor is what takes the cake. From start to finish, I was never without a smile, either because of the dialog or the battles. Tim Schafer’s style of humor is present in both, and it really pushes the plot along, even if it is pretty basic and short.

One thing that this game has, that most others overlook, is believable dialog. Everything that is said gives a sense that it would be said by real children and people, and the humor allows the characters to be developed in a short period of time. It’s hard to say if voice acting would have made it better or not. On one hand, it would have given the characters a better personality, judging off of Double Fine’s usual caliber of voice acting, but it might have taken away from the point of the game, to envision yourself as these characters, to relive your childhood, even if in a small fashion.

The battles are simplistic in nature, but I never found myself not having fun during them. Between the awesome special moves, the beautiful animation, and balance, no battle ever seemed boring. I will say that after awhile, you need to take a break, for battles can seem very same-ish if you don’t give yourself some time in between. The boss battles are always entertaining thanks to the extra dialog and special animations, though I wish there were more of them, rather than just battling the same looking enemies at every house. With the different costumes, the lack of different attacks doesn’t seem so apparent, but when you take away the balance and small quick time event, there really isn’t any difference between them.

If I had to make one huge complaint about the game, it would be the music. While the theme is great, as well as the battle music, I never really noticed the general background music in the game. It all seemed boring and uninteresting, especially during cut scenes, for the music doesn’t change or adapt to the situation. Even if the scene was tense or emotional, the music stayed the same and just seemed like a rushed beat made without care. I’d also say that during the game, it can be hard to navigate some areas due to the camera, but that rarely happened. All in all, I had no major problems with the gameplay or the navigation, just some places can get you caught and glitch out your other characters trailing behind.

This game really did something for me. There are a lot of games out there that try to create an emotional response, but usually end up failing and making it heavy handed. Costume Quest told a simplistic story with likable characters and awesome dialog and was able to make me care about what happened, rather than just going through a series of set pieces. You could feel the friendship through the dialog and understand the problems that they have. Even if the entire thing is tied up with a childish wrapping, I could still say that I felt something for them, and that is what makes this game so good. With the addition of an Arrested Development reference and cool art style, Costume Quest grabbed me and never let go. Here’s to hoping for a sequel that takes place in Comic-Con or PAX!

I Give it 5 out of 5 .

Rating: ★★★★★


Dalton – I believe there are two fundamental questions you should ask before you decide whether or not to play Costume Quest. #1 Do you love Halloween and is it currently October? #2 Do you like everything about Double Fine games including their humor and often middling gameplay mechanics? If you answered yes to both then hurry and play Costume Quest before Halloween hits, I really don’t think it works unless you play it in the month of October. It got me seriously hyped about Halloween and brought back some great memories from my childhood of trick or treating.

The game itself isn’t anything too outstanding, it’s a solid RPG system enhanced by the classic Double Fine humor and cool battle mechanics such as the various costumes, my favorite of which shot out the colors of the American flag with Abraham Lincoln’s disembodied head. The costumes also offer some neat light puzzle solving in the hub world such as using a lightsaber to get past dark areas, rollerskating off ramps, etc. The story and dialogue are very charming and occasionally got a fairly hearty laugh out of me, it’s not a particularly long game but I don’t think it would really work if it was any other length. However the $15 price tag and some issues such as infrequent auto saving make me hesistant to suggest an outright buy. I really dislike the new $15 standard for downloadable games and on principle usually don’t buy games at that price point. Yet I still feel that for someone that answers an enthusiastic yes to both of my questions, you’ll find enough to justify the price and feel satisfied after the credits roll.

Despite my penchant for hating review scores I’ll join the crowd and give it a 4/5.

Rating: ★★★★☆


Edward – To start off with, I have nothing against Tim Schafer/Double Fine games, but to me, this one just lacks the hooks that draw me in. To begin with, the gameplay was easy to pick up, but nothing special and a little bit twitchy in some parts. The candy-bashing moves to release the candy from rubbish bins, and bags needing to be in the exact place to trigger the actions. The costumes that can be pieced together by finding “spooky” chests, is a fun way to drag out the game and adds little to the overall neighbourhood experience, with the original robot suit having a Rollerblades upgrade to go faster, and the Knight suit having a shield that is nigh on useless.

The visuals are cute, and add to the child-like aspect of the game, and let’s be honest, this is a kids game, there may be a bit of adult content in the dialogue, but that’s about it. The cel-shaded colour scheme is pretty on the eyes, but the isometric viewpoint can get a little bit painful at times, with the character completely hidden from view when in selected areas, which can make navigation a little bit more challenging.

The music and sound effects are little to scream about, with the background music looping horrendously often. Add to the fact that nobody talks in the game, yep, it’s just like Animal Crossing, where people make those yip or bloop noises to indicate talking, as well as the fact that there’s no option to advance the text before the timeframe allotted for the conversation, so you’re stuck with sitting there until the game advances.

The battle system, what little there is, is not very impressive at all, with attacks using the “gunblade” approach of quick-time button presses to increase the strength of the attack, and if you miss the press, your attack could fall short, or you could end up becoming even more damaged when you attempt to dodge. The timing of the button-presses is lenient however it is still annoying. The Costumes that you pick up add a little flair to the battle system, and choosing the right one before you enter a “random” house battle, is key to victory, or rather just doing the same thing but with a different animation.

Overall, Costume Quest is not a bad game, it’s just not a good game, it has a few nice little features, but the presentation and gameplay really leaves a lot to be desired, definitely give it a go if you’re a fan of Tim Schafer/Double Fine, but try out the Demo first to get a feel for it to justify your purchase.
I give it a 3 out of 5.

Rating: ★★★☆☆



Eric – Much like Halloween night itself, this game is unique, but brief. Costume Quest actually does a great job of applying it’s setting to common RPG mainstays that make it interesting from the outset. It starts off with the novel concept of going door to door trick or treating. This is where you usually encounter your enemy battles. In said battle, your costume determines how to perform your basic attack and what your special move will be. Battling has been simplified to just attacking or running away, making it very accessible.

The main problem with this game is that it takes its formula of trick or treating, finding kids, trading cards, and battling a boss and repeats this two more times. Battles don’t tend to last too long, but they are relatively frequent, easy, and repetitive. The costumes mainly differ in their respective special attacks, but as the combat is so easy it’s hard to warrant using a costume that has a niche special. Battle stamps, materia-esque costume modifiers, help add a bit more to the game, but most are just upgrades of previous stamps. As an RPG, this lack of depth makes it hard to recommend to fans of the genre.

Fans of Tim Schafer and/or Double Fine, however, will enjoy the games charm. While not as manic as, say, Psychonauts, the subtlety is still there. Unfortunately, due to the brevity of the game, there isn’t quite as many gags as I would’ve liked. In addition, it felt like the plot was rushed towards the finale and has a rather abrupt ending. It also didn’t help that the text in the chat bubbles can be a bit hard to see.

Costume Quest has a few neat tricks that makes it stand out from other RPG’s. Sadly, these can get stale relatively quick. In the end, it was a largely enjoyable, if flawed, game that I would love to see a sequel to. You’ve got a year, Double Fine…

I give it a 3 out of 5.

Rating: ★★★☆☆


Ian – Because I have a soft spot for games that look oriented for children, this one was right up my alley. The gameplay was simple but addictive. You go from house to house collecting candy from adults but you have to be careful, not always do adults come to the door. Sometimes it’s a monster that was raiding the house for candy. At that point, you’ll be thrusted into battle. The battles consist of minor quick-time events that determine how much damage is done or protected against.

The art is quite adorable but nothing groundbreaking, using a sort of cel shading to give everything a geometric and colourful look. The graphics engine is simple but some errors have slipped through, allowing for some mildly humourous situations. Like, in the mall, when you are searching for 6 kids that are hiding, there is one child on the second floor that is visible when he shouldn’t be, making it seem like he’s suspended from the same wire holding up fake bats on the ceiling.

The writing is what you would come to expect from a Double Fine/Tim Schafer game. It’s witty and has that light bite of cynicism. It is also littered with pop-culture references including one boy dressed in a banana costume who quotes the hit show Arrested Development. Despite the fact that children are speaking, they have that sort of Charlie Brown-esque way about them that has them using words that normal kids their age wouldn’t know. Like ‘inadmissible’.

My personal thoughts on the game are so: It’s really cute, it’s really fun, somewhat lacking in the variety but what is there is definitely fresh. It’s not an artistic masterpiece by any means but if you need to kill a few hours, just fire this game up and forget about all the generic shooting games that everyone seems to love. I’ll probably play this around every Halloween just because it’s something neat and new.

I give it a 4 out of 5.

Rating: ★★★★☆


This is too awesome not to include.

Average of the R&R crew scores: 3.8 out of 5

 

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Costume Quest was provided for review by THQ on PlayStation Network. It is also available on Xbox Live Arcade.

About Staff