In Costume Quest, you control a ragtag team of children on Halloween night. What initially starts as a normal trick-or-treat evening for our loveable Halloweiners - er, trick-or-treaters goes awry when one of the twins (the one you didn’t choose as the main character) gets kidnapped by goblins.
Costume Quest’s first treat is when you realize you’re not playing a kids’ game. Instead, you’re playing a ridiculously clever game with loveable dialogue and a story cuter than a baby juggling lollipops. Randomly confronting NPCs is almost always worth it, as they rattle off jokes about the complexities of Manifest Destiny or other things stupid little children wouldn’t actually know about.
Unfortunately its first trick doesn’t take much longer to recognize. The game has a little-too-consistent gameplay mechanic that shapes nearly all the battles of the game. You knock on doors in the neighborhoods… wait during a drumroll… and when the door opens its either a friendly neighbor giving out candy or a douchey goblin trying to eat you. It definitely gives a new take on “Trick or Treat” but by the last act, the formula has worn a bit thin.
The game’s straightforward approach is both a trick and a treat. The linear nature of the game makes it seem almost instantly familiar, like a game you’ve played before, and allows its quirks to take priority. But at certain times, the linearity makes things too simple.
Take for instance, the turn-based battle system. To achieve a critical strike, you only have to do one thing per costume – press one button repeatedly for the Dracula costume, press another at the right time for the Robot costume. There are tons of costumes to unlock but some of them share the same critical strikes, making fighting even easier. To add additional attacks to a costume, you have to spend your hard-earned candy on Battle Stamps. The simple fighting mechanic is perfect for younger gamers, but vets will be bored by it quickly.
Battle Stamp stations are spread between the three locations, which boil down to suburban neighborhood, mall, and rural neighborhood. From the time you buy stamps at one station until you find the next station, you’ll have developed a strategy and costume mix that works every time for any battle. In fact, once you’ve mastered a costume’s critical strike there’s really no reason to switch out of it. Later-level costumes come with small improvements to life and defense, but they’re hardly noticeable and it’s more fun to try and assemble the single most ridiculous group of heroes (Robot, Statue of Liberty, Unicorn).
If Costume Quest was a full-retail game, we’d recommend it with a few caveats. But seeing as its fifteen bucks, fans of RPGs/Halloween/Neglecting their children should pick it up without hesitation.
Oct 22, 2010