Review by Kaas
"A nice and short Halloween RPG, which is definitely worth checking out."
Costume Quest is a small, happy and fun little RPG/Adventure made by Double Fine Productions, founded by Tim Schafer and well-known for their games Psychonauts and Brütal Legend. Costume Quest is out for the Xbox Live Arcade and the PlayStation Network, but I'll be talking about the XBLA version, of course (although I really doubt there's a lot of difference between the two versions, if any at all).
Costume Quest starts off with two kids, a boy named Reynold and his sister Wren, who are getting ready to celebrate Halloween. They have donned their costumes and are all set to go trick and treating: Reynold has a robot suit, and Wren is dressed as an ugly piece of candy (that is, if you chose to play as the boy). Once they're outside their house, the fun starts. Wren gets abducted by an evil witch, and there are monsters all over the place stealing candy. It's up to Reynold to recruit friends to help him out, find different Halloween costumes, get his sister back from the monsters and collect as much candy as possible!
As you've read above, you probably won't be playing this game for the plot. It's a simple and charming story, without twists, and it plays out without many surprises. That's not to say it isn't enjoyable, because, as simple as it may be, it's been crafted really well and you definitely feel a sort of connection to the characters. The dialogue is very well done, and worth a few chuckles along the way, even if it simply oozes cuteness and friendship. There are also a handful of sidequests to complete, and while they don't really add to the main story, and are not really diverse, they do keep you occupied and make it feel like there's always something around to explore or collect. The sidequests can range from finding children who are playing Hide-and-Seek, to bobbing for apples and finding a way to get to that seemingly unreachable treasure chest.
The graphics of Costume Quest are really nice, and fit the game perfectly. They have a cartoony vibe to them, yet they're not cel-shaded. It sort of looks like a next-gen Banjo-Kazooie game mixed with Wind Waker and the Sims, if that even makes sense. You walk around the playing area in a fixed bird's eye view perspective, and you can't control the camera. There's plenty of color, and there are lots of points of interest on the screen. There are sadly only three different areas in the game, but they are rather large, and split up in multiple sections (you have to complete quests to unlock the next part of the level). There are lots of costumes to collect (you were playing Costume Quest, remember?), and they all look very cute when you are wearing them. However, this changes drastically when you enter a battle
There are no random encounters in the game, which is becoming the standard in modern RPGs. Monsters are walking around the map clearly visible, and you simply have to walk into them to start a fight. As soon as you start fighting, your costume will change. For example, you start the game with a simple robot costume made of a cardboard box, a simple helmet and some sort of hoses for arms. Start fighting, and you will transform into a giant mechanical robot with wings and rockets! When you transform, you also receive a few nice battle abilities: a regular and a special attack (the special move will become available after 2 turns). Of course, the regular and special attacks are different for every costume, which adds a bit of depth to selecting your costumes before going into battle. You can choose a variation of costumes purely made for attacking, but you can also have a tank (high defense and high hp), an attacker (high damage) and a healer (replenish lost hp). It's not really necessary, since the battles never really become hard, but it's definitely nice to at least have the option. Battles follow the turn-based regime: you attack first, then the monsters attack. Defeat monsters to receive experience (you gain levels with enough xp, which will increase your defense and attack) and candy, which is money in the game. You can buy battle stamps with candy, which either have a status effect (higher dodge rate, higher defense, etc), or a special ability, like being able to stun or poison the enemy. As you gain more costumes, you also gain access to new areas, because most costumes have a special ability outside combat. To mention the robot costume again (I don't want to spoil the other costumes, as they're fun to discover), it comes with roller-skates which let you travel faster and jump off ramps, which give access to other areas. Other costumes have other abilities, so if you're stuck, try out those abilities.
To gain access to the next level, you will have to go trick-or-treating. There are a set number of houses in each area, and you will have to visit all of them. When you knock on the door, a human or a monster opens the door. If it's a human, yay free candy! If it's a monsters, it's battle time. As soon as you visited all the houses, the gate to the next area opens up and you're free to leave. Since there are only 3 areas, this makes for a rather short game. I did all of the quests and collected everything, and I finished the game in around 6-7 hours. Then again, I was smiling the entire time I was playing. You will not get bored playing, as there's always a small quest to finish, or a costume to collect. I was originally planning to give the game a 7/10 because it's short and easy, but I decided to go with an 8/10, because those 6 hours were lots of fun, and not every game needs to be hard to be enjoyed. Costume Quest is a nice and cute Halloween-themed RPG, and you will most definitely enjoy it, despite its few flaws.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 10/28/10
Game Release: Costume Quest (US, 10/20/10)
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