Costume Quest (2010) Video Game Review

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Created by Double Fine Productions (Monkey Island, Brutal Legend, Psychonauts), artistically designed by Tasha Harris and written by gaming legend Tim Schafer, Costume Quest can be best described as 1 of the more amusing and underrated Halloween themed games available.

Set on the night of Halloween, we follow a set of twins, Reynold (the boy) and Wren (the girl), who have moved into a new neighbourhood and have been encouraged by their parents to go trick-or-treating in order to meet other kids, make new friends, and of course, get free candy.  When 1 of the twins gets kidnapped by a monster, it’s up to the other twin to rescue him/her with a little help from new friends before curfew.  It’s very simple, but that’s the gist of the story.

In terms of graphics and design, it’s evident that we’re not going to be looking at the next Naughty Dog game.  But as far as being a cartoon game is concerned, it’s very eye-catching, and the designs would be easy to recognise when looking at game covers.  Some would say it looks so easy that even a child could draw it…but maybe that’s part of it’s appeal?  So a child can draw it if they like the game?  Due to there being no voice actors this time, the game’s dialogue is presented in comic book speech bubbles, which has a nice effect, as long as you can read within pace and don’t have a trigger-happy finger/thumb.

Music-wise, Costume Quest wouldn’t be worth a CD purchase, as a majority of the tunes are less than a minute long.  But this doesn’t stop them from being really well made, full of charm, and evidently halloween-sounding.  It has a wonderful use of plucked strings with xylophone keys, creating a slight Danny Elfman effect while also maintaining a childhood feel to it.  Is it scary music?  Far from it, since it’s not intended to be scary, it’s intended to be halloween-themed, to create a mood for that time of year.  It even has a little Psychonauts easter egg if you can find it.  There’s also a tune that brings back memories of The Monster Mash.  See if you can spot it (it’s so different to Monster Mash, but you can tell it was the effect they were going for).

What about the gameplay?  To be honest it’s a mixed bag.  You start the game by picking a twin, and the twin who gets kidnapped is dressed as a large candy-corn, which is why he/she was kidnapped.  It’s definitely an RPG in nature, as you spend most of the game collecting candy to buy upgrades, trick-or-treating in order to move the story forward (and collect candy), fighting monsters in epic power rangers-eque/Megazord battle sequences to gain experience and collect candy (where your costume becomes a giant realistic version of itself, fighting monsters, who are also giants), and trying to find treasure chests/do side quests in order to obtain either shortcuts, pieces of new costumes that can be created (each costume has different purposes and special moves, with some being needed to move the story forward) or, you guessed it, collecting candy.  The battle system in Costume Quest reminds me a little of Shadow Hearts and South Park: The Stick Of Truth, in the sense that the impact of your attacks and defences are based on your timing.  When you’re told to press a certain button within a gap of time, it can either make your attacks more powerful or your defences stronger.  Sometimes it works well.  But on a keyboard, it can be rather tedious when you’re asked to press shift and Q (I played this on Steam).

The strength of the game though, comes in the form of Tim Schafer’s writing, which has his sense of humour written all over it (quite literally).  It’s light-hearted, definitely doesn’t take itself seriously in any way, and makes for a pleasant journey throughout the game.  Some could call it “South Park Light”, since it’s about kids saying funny things without being too edgy.  Double Fine gave themselves a limited amount of time to work on this project.  Not so that they can get it out there faster, but so that they could keep what was important to the story, and not get too side-tracked.  As for the characters?  They’re fun in the sense that Tim Schafer gives them their amusing dialogue, and despite the lack of peril, the love/hate relationship between the twins is nicely done.

Would I recommend Costume Quest?  If you’re looking for a really good RPG, this might not be it.  But if you’re looking for something that’s light-hearted, funny, with a simple story and simply something that is perfect for the month of October (you know what I mean), it’s definitely worth a look.  The humour plays an enormous part to its appeal, and it could be enough for anybody to give this a go.  Also, it’s worth

Graphics: ***

Art/Design: ****

Music: ****

Gameplay: **1/2

Story: ****1/4

Characters: ****

Overall: ***3/4

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