Candy Corn Anyone?
It's good to see people getting really excited for Halloween in video games. The kids in Costume Quest feel like this is the most important holiday of them all. Even more important than some holiday that happens near the end of the year. These kids really want to trick-or-treat right. And who wouldn't?
Double Fine brings us a charming and lovable adventure of a boy, or girl, on a quest to save their sibling from danger on Halloween night or face the wrath of being grounded. Monsters have invaded the your suburb to steal candy and it's up to you to stop them. It's a good thing you transform into giant awesome versions of what your costume is. It is literally how awesome kids think of themselves when they go trick-or-treating wrapped in tin foil.
Costume Quest is essentially an RPG. A very simple one at that. It takes mechanics reminiscent of Paper Mario or the Super Star Saga, where you are engaged in mini button presses during the battle. You can score critical hits or even mitigate damage with successful timing. The costumes in part are inherent with varying abilities that are akin to classes in RPGs. A battle stamp system on top of this adds effects that may happen during battle, such as status ailments or added damage to attacks. They are very simple and easy to understand mechanics that many can easily pick up and learn with a few encounters.
It's not how the game plays that makes Costume Quest put a smile on my face but how it conveys Halloween through a very eager and willing child's eyes. The writing should be expected from Double Fine. With clever and funny writing that had me chuckling throughout the game. The passion that the kids portray really put me back to how awesome Halloween was when I was a kid. It makes the whole game feel genuine and thoughtful. Like it was really kids who came into the office and threw out ideas about "How awesome would it be to turn into this giant spider made of out french fries?!", or "Have candy be like money!".
One of the things that caught my eye was the lack of a hard save system. Auto saves do happen from time to time but I've only noticed that it was as I was changing locations in the world, which I later discovered towards the end of the game. The simplicity of the battle system left the battles toward the end of the game to feel draggy. If you blow through the game in one sitting then it's no problem but if you taking your time with it then you might come across some bumps. That isn't to say that the game is short. I went through it at roughly five hours after I defeated the final boss. For a $15 down loadable game it's a good amount of questing and gathering candy.
This game caught me by surprise at how much of a good package it was at the end of the day. If you don't mind simple game mechanics and a not quite there save system, you should be in for a treat. A candy treat that is! Dohoho. Double Fine has reinforced their ability to bring good writing and solid themes to video games. It'll be interesting to see what they will bring us next.