Costume Quest is a fun and quirky little role-playing/adventure game from Double Fine Productions and THQ. You control a group of kids on Halloween night, and your goal is to go around three different levels trick-or-treating, collecting candy, and battling monsters. Your characters can switch costumes throughout the game, and each costume has different abilities, both for battle and exploration. For example, the Robot costume features a Boost ability that lets you move faster and skate off the top of ramps. In battle, the Robot plays as a ranged physical attacker whose rockets can set the enemy on fire. Different costumes play differently; for example, the Statue of Liberty costume serves as your first healer. Any costume can be put on any character at any time; think of it as a massively simplified job system.
The gameplay is pretty simple, overall. Battles rely mostly on well-timed button presses, so you’ll need fairly quick reaction times and a certain level of familiarity with the controller in order to do well. Your characters’ ability can be boosted through battle stamps, which can be bought at a store in each level. Candy is the game’s form of money, and can be found through exploring levels, discovered in treasure chests, or gotten through trick-or-treating. Each house you approach will reveal either an adult human, who gives you candy, or a monster, who you’ll have to fight. Battles earn you experience points, candy, and Creepy Treat cards, the game’s main collectible. There’s also a bobbing for apples mini-game that can earn you rewards, as well as various sidequests that let you do things like trade Creepy Treat cards or find other kids that are playing hide-and-seek.
Double Fine’s characteristic sense of humor shines throughout the game, in everything from the dialogue to the battle stamps (one allows you to T.P. your enemy, which stuns them). Even the premise of the story is an entertaining one. Wren and Reynold, a pair of twins, are the main characters, and you get to decide which one you control. Whichever one you don’t control ends up dressed in a candy corn costume. Only problem is, monsters are patrolling the town trying to collect all the candy, and they mistake said twin for a miraculously large, talking piece of candy corn. Your quest begins as you attempt to get back your twin, enjoy your Halloween, and still make it home before bedtime.
To a certain extent, I see Costume Quest as being a game that might have difficulty finding a niche. Hardcore gamers will likely want more depth and strategy, and be turned off by the game’s simplicity, short length, and the repetitiveness of the controls. Casual gamers, on the other hand, may not know the controller well enough to do well in the battle system. And while the overall concept is one that kids and younger gamers would likely enjoy, the humor is definitely more adult-oriented. (Nothing dirty, mind you–just a lot of jokes that would fly over most kids’ heads.)
I enjoyed Costume Quest a lot for what it was, however. While the gameplay is simple and repetitive, the game itself is short enough–only three levels long–that it didn’t have enough time to wear on my nerves. I also thoroughly enjoyed Double Fine’s comedic writing ability, as always. Costume Quest is short and simple, but it’s fun, and that’s what playing games is really all about. As long as you go in knowing what to expect, it can serve as a fun and refreshing break from more complex, mature games.
Overall Rating: 4/5
What I Played: Beat the entire game and got all Costumes, Creepy Treat Cards, and Battle Stamps. Completed all quests.