Costume Quest: Xbox 360 arcade game. 1200pts ($15.00). Completion time: 6-7 hours. 200 out of 200 gamerscore (additional 50 with purchase of DLC). Now also available on PSN and PC.
I don’t normally give out an actual substantial rating, but “Costume Quest” by Double Fine Productions deserves 5/5, 10/10, 90/90, A+! I actually sat down and played this from start to finish, only standing up to get a drink/icepack twice. I’d put off getting this game because I was busy, or thought it was over hyped, waited for a sale, or some stupid reason. Seriously, stop whatever you are doing and get this game.
You didn’t get the game yet, did you? Well then, let me persuade you to get it.
The ART! So cute! The cell-shaded graphics, the isometric view, the cartoony pop-up bubbles! Oh, so sweet like candy.
The MUSIC! Sweet, slightly airy, reminding me of cartoons and overdramatic Bugs-Bunnian swells. Then creepy ambient music sneaks in. A large part of its charm is the well done environmental sound effects that are there; they were constant noises that were not distracting and made the game more immersive.
The STORY! Letting you choose from being the older girl or younger boy twin at the start was a great and unexpected touch. From there the story is the same: you have to save your twin (and Halloween?) from some goblin-like creatures who are stealing candy. You come across additional characters that bolster your team, all interesting and fleshed out.
The HUMOR! Very few games are funny.; this is one of those few. The writing really shows that Double-Fine isn’t phoning it in and making a game purely for children, they reference older games, tropes, and the adventures play out in a somewhat unexpected fashion.
The GAMEPLAY! Oh, running around in the neighborhood environments as your character in an imaginative cardboard box (several have special abilities needed to advance) is very fun and easy to control. Collecting hidden candy in these sections is actually fun and simple, with a small icon appearing when you are near something you need to whack with your candy-pail, which makes the initial exploration enjoyable and not tedious. Maybe it is just how I play, but I always click the action button (“A” or “X”) on anything possible, which can actually take the fun out of playing the game, so this feature left my mind at rest.
You’ll then find that there are various sidequests available, be it gathering some item from across the map (not a tedious journey, I assure you) or finding a duplicate trading card for someone. In addition you’ll be able to get diagrams on new costumes and then collect the costume pieces and build them (a fairly simple process, you won’t be making unique costumes).
Anyways, entering battle (either through the possibly random doors when trick-or-treating or when running into an enemy in the neighborhoods) turns your home-made cardboard and trashcan costumes into ultra-realistic fighting forms. The battle system is turn-based, and simpler than even Final Fantasy. You can attack or use a battle sticker (something you buy with candy) ability and after a few turns your costumes special attack becomes available. There are some QTE that happen in battle, but they are easy to master.
As an aside: The game really reminded me of a childhood innocence and creativity long lost to many of us. It really felt like the best of the older generation of adventure games and RPGs was bred with naiveté with tremendously entertaining results.
Perfect really, I can’t fit many more exclamation marks in this review. I’ll have you know I spent several days before I wrote this review in contemplation, trying to let the passion it inspired in me dull down. But from the excitement you read above I can’t deny that this is one of the best games I’ve played in a long time. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go download “Grubbins on Ice”, the DLC that I’ve been looking forward to all week.
[editor’s note: Billy is a failure, and he downloaded the DLC but hasn’t played it yet. FAILURE. Ahwell, save it for Halloween or the next snow….]