Giant Bomb Review


Costume Quest Review

  • XBGS
  • PS3N

This lightweight RPG oozes charm and humor.

Costume Quest is a game that thinks Halloween is awesome. It's a celebration of the hyperactive imagination of children, the good-natured awkwardness of kiddie Halloween costumes, the all-consuming desire to acquire as much candy as humanly possible, and the need to slaughter dozens and dozens of candy-thieving monsters along the way. Alright, so that last part wasn't exactly an element in any of my trick-or-treating forays as a child, but that makes it no less fun to experience. Developed by Psychonauts and Brutal Legend makers Double Fine, Costume Quest delivers an adventure that is as cute as it is fun to play. Its breezy nature and brief length might be a bit of a turn-off for some players, but anyone else ought to be immediately charmed by this downloadable role-playing game.

  Your costumes start out cute and kid-friendly...
 Your costumes start out cute and kid-friendly...
In the game, you play as either Reynold or Wren, bickering twin boy-and-girl siblings who seem none-too-pleased about their parents forcing them to stick together as they prepare to go out trick-or-treating. No sooner are they out of the house and knocking on neighbors' doors that one of them (the one you didn't choose to control at the beginning of the game) is kidnapped by a horrible, candy burgling goblin. He skitters off toward a mysterious black gate at the edge of the suburbs, and you're off on a quest to save your sibling, while ridding the world of candy grubbing beasts in the process.

That quest comes in the form of a game that feels a little bit like "My First RPG." In the game's overworld, you'll find yourself wandering around three distinct areas (the suburbs, a local mall, and a carnival village on the outskirts of town). These worlds are chock full of hidden stuff to find, not to mention a couple of additional children who are more than willing to tag along on your quest. Eventually you'll find yourself going door-to-door and trick-or-treating. Behind each door lies one of two things: A costumed adult, who usually has some pithy comment for you before they unload gobs and gobs of candy (the game's currency) on you, or a horrible monster of some fashion, who usually says something equally pithy before engaging you in battle.

Battles play out in turn-based fashion, and once a fight is engaged, your characters morph from cute little kids into giant, battle-ready versions of whatever costume they happen to be wearing. Costumes are earned throughout the course of the game (either by finding the materials in chests, or by completing side quests for other characters), and each one comes with its own unique set of combat abilities. There are attack-oriented costumes--like the robot costume that turns you into a giant Gundam-looking cybernetic thing with a fist-firing basic attack, and a special attack that blasts missiles at all enemies currently on the screen--as well as more defense and stun-oriented costumes--such as the Statue of Liberty costume, which, yes, transforms your character into a giant-sized Statue of Liberty, capable of blasting fire as a basic attack, and for a special move heals all party members via a delightfully patriotic mural that features the American flag, bald eagles, and Abraham Lincoln's floating head. The less said about the French fry costume, which morphs you into what would happen if you cross-bred the greasy snack with an enraged spider, the better.

The combat moves are executed through a variety of different timing-based button presses. Sometimes it's a well-timed press of one button, sometimes it's a meter that can only be filled up by pressing the left control stick over and over, but in every event, it's all pretty simple stuff. The variety of costumes and related combat moves is actually pretty good, but it won't take you long to find the costumes you're most comfortable with, and odds are you'll stick to those throughout the course of the game. That fact does make the combat a tad repetitive, as does the fact that few, if any, of the battles are terribly difficult. I don't think I lost a fight until I got to the last boss, actually. The addition of battle stamps, purchasable items that give you added abilities like increased attack strength and additional stun abilities, add a bit of variety to the proceedings, but not a great deal.

  ...But once imagination gets involved, they turn deadly.
 ...But once imagination gets involved, they turn deadly.
That said, whatever repetitiveness the game might suffer from is pretty well trumped by its positive onslaught of charm and humor. This being a Double Fine game, Costume Quest's dialogue is unsurprisingly quite clever and humorous, but more to the point, the world of this game is simply adorable as all get-out. There is a distinctly cartoonish, almost cel-shaded look to the game, not to mention a smoothness and stylish quality to the animation that makes this one a real eye-pleaser. The delightfully Halloween-y music certainly adds to the atmosphere, as well.

Additionally, while the game's quest isn't a terribly long one, the basic pace and design of the game feels just about right. Each world is just big enough to make exploring it a fun endeavor, while not being so large as to be unwieldy or confusing. The game never gets fetch-questy to pad its length, sticking to quests that you'll solve naturally over the course of your exploration. And while the mechanics of the game are undoubtedly simple, the combat never gets old. Even if you do end up sticking to a few specific costumes and attacks through most of the game, you'll undoubtedly want to see them all, and try out each of their different moves a few times, since the battle animations are often pretty entertaining.

Perhaps Costume Quest could have benefited from one additional world to explore, a little bit more in the way of costume and combat variety, or a slight uptick in challenge, but ultimately, these few issues do little to hinder one's enjoyment of what is an incredibly bewitching little title. What Double Fine has done right here easily trumps what few issues it might have. This is an easy game to lose yourself in for as long as it lasts, and, by the end of the adventure, all I could think to myself was how much I'd like to see these characters again come next All Hallows' Eve.
Alex Navarro on Google+