Think back when you were a young child on Halloween. Innocent and bright eyed, with imagination flowing from you’re gray matter like a uncontrollable waterfall, churning all kinds of thoughts of fear and excitement from the creeps and critters that “haunt” the streets at night on your endless quest for candy and other confectionary treats. You’re costumes, be it homemade or store bought, became the uniforms of the journey.
This is the feeling that is present in Double Fine’s “Costume Quest,” an XLBA and PSN title that oozes charm and whimsical wonder in a simple RPG candy shell. The debut project of Tasha Harris of Double Fine, with Tim Shafer serving as a support role, puts you in the role of either Wren or Reynold, twin siblings who just moved into a new town around Halloween, and you embark on a forced co-op candy collection by your parents. Very quickly things go south when one of the siblings (depending on who you choose to be the main character in the games beginning) is kidnapped by goblin-like minions because of her candy-corn costume. As it turns out, these monsters are attempting to snatch up all the candy in the town for themselves. It is up to the remaining sibling, along with two fellow recruited children, to scavenge the town and take down the candy-collecting creeps.
The premise and plot is short and simple, and the typical off kilter wit of many Double Fine productions shines through thanks in part to the dialogue. The characters all have a personality, even the evil minions have some of the best lines in the game. There are plenty of moments where you can’t help but chuckle at the games charm.
The game has you trick or treating in three sections of the town, collecting candy and fighting enemies as you go. The games simple RPG elements consist of the most awesome battle animations of the kids transforming into the very costumes they wear. Be it a Robot straight out of mech warrior, a light-saber wielding starman, or even the statue of liberty, the eleven collectable costumes in the game each come with unique animations, attacks and special moves, be it healing the party, stunning enemies, or causing massive damage.
Combat works primarily on quick time events. Each of the costumes uses a variety of these events, pressing the four main buttons at specific times or within a time limit, or even rapidly tapping the buttons for the same effect. The combat is very reminiscent of “Super Mario RPG” in that regard, making it easy to play and enjoyable for the games rather short duration. To add to the strategy are a number of purchasable stamps that can augment abilities, such as higher health or damage.
The game does suffer from repetition though. The same side-quests are pretty much found in the games three levels, be it bobbing for apples or trading gross out cards with other kids for experience. You know, kids stuff that does happen on Halloween. It is kind of annoying to see the same type of side quests in every area with the same goals in mind each time.
The game also has really no difficulty to it. You always will attack first against the monsters, pretty much reserving only minor strategies against the games four bosses. The battles often end quickly so the monotony doesn’t last that long at the very least, making the game enjoyable in it’s simplicity.
The graphics are pure sugary sweetness, cute and cuddly cel-shaded greatness that fit’s the whimsical world that was created. The battle animations are also pretty damn amazing, and easily the highlight of the entire game besides the story. The sound is well done, with a simple, somewhat spooky background music looping for both the worlds and the battle animations. There is no voice dialogue in the game, but the game doesn’t really need it either, instead using comic book text boxes that fits into the games aesthetic rather well.
So the story is lighthearted and the gameplay is repetitive, and the six hour game does drag when dealing with the side-quests. I have seen other reviewers complain about these points, but for me, it fit’s the game well. The games charm and wit, combined with the simple game mechanics give it an amazing premise and an enjoyable downloadable title. So if you have the $15 bucks to spare, pick up the game and relive your childhood fantasies this Halloween.
Final Score- B+