By Nytrik 10 Comments
So, like the obsessive person I am, I bought my Microsoft Points last night (8/19) to pick up both Super Meat Boy and Costume Quest when I woke up the next morning. All was fine and I swear it was like a juxtaposed Christmas this morning. Considering I've been almost unable to get any new games lately. I played Super Meat Boy for about an hour and then booted up Costume Quest. Boy, was I happy I did that. Thus started a binge that I haven't done in awhile. I played through Costume Quest in literally one sitting.
Sprung into a nostalgic world of Halloween for the early years I immediately became (if I dare say) charmed by the cute and simple pleasure that Costume Quest offers. Ignoring the story and what transpires you can call Costume Quest an RPG in the vain of Paper Mario or the Mario RPG's. The key difference these RPG's hold from normal JRPG's would be the idea that in Paper Mario or Mario RPG you don't simply activate the skill and wait for the effect. The skill's effectiveness depends on a timed button press or waggle of the stick. In Costume Quest the only attack you have to worry about effing up is the basic attack and softening blows from enemies. Missing the button presses isn't too punishing on the basic attack functions, but if you miss the button press to defend yourself prepare to reap the consequences. You'll be hit a considerable amount harder than if you were to soften the blow. They do a good job of making you pay attention by changing up which one of the face buttons you need to press to block or successfully enhance an attack.
Every third or fourth attack you'll have the option to choose whatever it is your specific costume does for a special attack. I found these special attacks to be pretty great in presentation. They're visually interesting and full of snappy camera shots and neat effects. If Costume Quest does anything right (which it does a lot, don't get me wrong) it does everything correct in presentation, but more on that later. These special attacks for the most part are pretty neat in the effects they offer when cast. Some damage, some heal, and some disable the foes you're fighting. You know, obvious things to expect from the genre as far as special abilities go. Some are splash, which is really helpful against multiple enemies. More often than not you'll be facing about three enemies at the same time, all with their set of turns after you take your starting few. This can cause some really big problems with the health of your party members. Early on there is literally no way to heal your party back up, and there are very few defensive options. Well there's only one early on and that's the knight costume's special ability which only comes around every 3-4 turns (My memory fails me in regard to the exact number). When you receive the statue of liberty costume things come a little easier if you decide to use it, but I really liked the knight costume on my trusty friend Everett. I guess I'm harping more on the lack of items within the game to help you out in a clinch. However, this game is so forgiving if you loose a battle that you literally loose nothing from it. At least nothing that I noticed. You might loose candy, but I had so much candy throughout the game that I really wouldn't have noticed. The enemy you were fighting doesn't even disappear you both are thrust back into the normal world as if nothing had ever happened. This all being said, the "lack" as I call it of healing doesn't really matter in the long run, unless you never want to loose a battle. Which isn't an achievement or anything, so I don't see the point in wanting that past personal obsession. What's even more forgiving about the battle system in this game is that the gift of all your health restored after every fight. This leaves you never wanting to miss a battle or not fight a monster because the fights are often quick and they keep you entertained with the button presses. Overall Costume Quest's battle system is really enjoyable, and the lack of punishment makes you determined to defeat that battle you just lost too. The 'lets give it another go' mentality.
Costume Quest, I feel suffers from a lack of distribution of information in a great deal. Not that it detracts from the experience or leaves of vital information, I would have just liked an explanation mid-battle of what my special abilities did. Instead of swapping costumes out, waiting 3-4 turns, and then activating the ability to try to guess what it did based on the appearance of my enemy. Good thing most of them heal or damage. The ninja one I had to actually look up to figure out what it did. Turns out it protects you, neat.
Without spoiling any of the environments, I have to harp on one of them that just seems a little odd. Nothing wrong with it, I was more just along the lines of "Oh? Oh yeah? Sure, why not?". All of the environments are dabbled with Halloween flair to really give the game that suburbian Halloween feel. Green glows, jack-o-lanterns, skeletons, cob-webs; you name it. It's probably hanging off of something in Costume Quest. The environments themselves have a satisfying amount of little secrets and destructibles to keep you running around in small circles on your roller shoes for at least an extra hour than you have to. I found myself hitting every single thing with my dumb little pail that the game would let me, including people. So if anyone gives you any sass you can give them a good womp with your pail. It's pretty amusing because they all their own versions of "What the hell? Screw you buddy.". The levels feel populated and keep in-line with the idea that: Yo it's Halloween, kids are walking around. The occasional adults also populate the areas, as well as wandering enemies. Yep, the enemies are totally not only experts at B&E but they are roaming the streets assaulting kids. Man, I just made Costume Quest seem way darker than it ever embraces. Realistically Costume Quest is genuinely amusing at some points. The dialog isn't even close to being dry and it's actually pretty funny sometimes. I met an Italian fellow that made me chuckle. It's never there for good hearty laughs, but they're worth a smile and a bit of recognition. I feel like the only way to explain the story is that of a 90's cartoon on Nickelodeon. To be honest this could have been a cartoon back then and we could all be being fooled right now.It really has that feel of being a kid on lock down. We all really wanted our Halloween costumes to spring to life and kick the ass of weird ogre creatures. I mean, if this happened to you on Halloween you'd be effing stoked. Don't even front.
The costume transformations are pretty bad ass too, even the unicorn is pretty bad ass. It heals a party member for full health WITH RAINBOWS. So everything feels pretty awesome and fantastical in the world of Costume Quest. They also do a pretty good job of letting you get everything your first play through. Right before the final boss fight there's a pseudo-"are you sure you're ready?" prompt. I stumbled on what I thought was the last boss fight a little scared because I hadn't gotten the last of the stamps and costumes yet. There's portals to the earlier zones and ways to traverse between them. So you don't ever feel like you're locked in where you are. You can always back track and make sure you have everything. It's a really big pet-peeve when I can't get things my first run through, so that's why I don't play Dead Rising (har har). In turn, I ended the game with all of the achievements, and collected everything I could collect. None of it was overtly hard to find or felt "cheap".
The only gripe I have on Costume Quest is that it left me wanting more. I simply want more of it. I feel like it's not enough. I want to fight more monsters and find more costumes. About 2 hours before the game ends the battle system starts to take a turn for depth, and starts to become even more enjoyable and I really wanted the game to have much more of this. It's not a long game by any means, but it's also an extremely quality experience for the price it asks. I hope to see DLC and extra story add-ons for this game. It really sits in a place in my heart. It's definitely worth your 15 bucks and future DLC purchases. I fully support this turn that Double Fine is taking with smaller games in bit sized additives. I'm just a little torn on what the future of Costume Quest would be. I mean, we could all just accept that it's Halloween forever and be happy, but I doubt that'll happy. I'd like to see them at the later years, with some weird costumes and truly bad ass representations--All right I'll stop.
Now, if you'll excuse me I have to play Super Meat Boy.
EDIT: Blame my lack of images on my lack of funds to purchase a capture set up.