For some people, they waited 4 years for this game to come out. For me, I bought 1 and 2 together in 2015 – but after Halloween ended and the “Christmas add-on” was completed, I decided to leave the sequel alone until this month. Why? Because some games are best played at certain times of the year, much like holiday specials. So. Costume Quest 2.
Set exactly after the events of the Costume Quest DLC Story “Grubbins On Ice”, twins Reynold and Wren return to Auburn Pines through a time hole, to find themselves back home on Halloween night…rather than near Christmas time. While exploring their neighbourhood, they notice an evil looking dentist named Dr Orel White scouting the scene. Soon after this, Auburn Pines is once again invaded by Grubbins (The troll things who stole the candy and your sibling in the last story) when Orel White opens a portal with the help of a time-wizard to release them into the Human world. 2 adults then tell Wren and Reynold to “come this way”, leading them into a different portal that takes them into a house. The house belongs to Everett and Lucy (battle partners in the original Costume Quest), who are now married and grown up. In Everett and Lucy’s future, Orel White has become King of the world, and has turned Auburn Pines into a futuristic dystopia were candy and costumes are outlawed, which might remind some of us of Back To The Future 2 and Brazil mixed with Blade Runner (BBB!) . It then becomes up to Reynold and Wren to save Halloween by jumping through time between the Auburn Pines of Orel White’s childhood and the terrible future he creates, in order to stop him from accomplishing his goal and to go home to an Auburn Pines that still has Halloween.
Now to discuss the building blocks, while also comparing it to its prequel:
The Graphics in this are almost exactly the same as Costume Quest 1, only they’re a little more crisp with some extra texture and weather effects. I guess Double Fine Productions figured that it would be better if they kept consistency, even with the 4 year gap.
The Art/Design, like the graphics, are the same, and maintain consistency with new visuals and levels. All remains well in this area, as they remain very pleasing to the eyes and adorable.
The Music maintains the child-like, playful essence of its older brother. But it also has a greater variety this time, ranging from futuristic sci-fi to…Well, we now know that Costume Quest is set in Louisiana, because of the Bayou and The French Quarter in Orel’s childhood, which are very much based on New Orleans, which includes its own New Orleans Jazz-inspired tune that suits the scenery and game perfectly. Some tunes from ‘1 also made a comeback – in particular the better ones, and the battle theme is much easier on the ears from multiple listens…although it’s missing the Camp Theme from Psychonauts this time.
The Gameplay, especially on the PC version, is vastly improved! Especially in the battle mode. In Costume Quest 1, it was easy to press the wrong button and miss the critical attack that required good timing. This time, your attacks are based on the numbers 1, 2 and 3, and using W.S.A.D. to select actions and targets. They’ve managed to make it simple for the fingers, giving you much more secure controls, and therefore a much better experience for an RPG that plays with timing. It still uses the Power Ranger/Megazord battle presentation, but the fact that the controls are better really helps. The enemies also respawn after a while throughout the world, making grinding a little easier, as you’re not stuck with a limited set of enemies to find, fight and gain experience from.
The Story, in my opinion, is better this time as well, even though to my surprise, Tim Schafer didn’t write it! The locations are more colourful, varied and interesting, and the fact that you’re now playing as the twins full time means it’s already a very different story (while also being about saving Halloween), and I love the direction it went as you progressed. It’s also even funnier than ‘1 and Grubbins On Ice – which is plus when you consider a sense of humour to be a Double Fine Productions trademark.
The characters, in my opinion, are stronger in this 1, and I do think Orel White is a better villain than Drusilla in ‘1. Monty and Hayley might not be as well developed as supporting fighters when compared to Everett and Lucy, but they still had plenty to offer in the story.
Would I recommend Costume Quest 2? Yes! Especially if you’ve played Costume Quest 1 and its DLC Grubbins On Ice, because altogether it’s a complete story. In my opinion, they’ve managed to save the best instalment for last in story, visuals and gameplay. Worth a look if you’ve played the prequels!