Video Game Reviews

Costume Quest (XBLA) review

When your brother (or sister) is kidnapped by the evil, candy snatching grubbins for dressing like a candy corn on Halloween, it’s up to you to rescue him by trick or treating and defeating the no-good grubbins.

Developed by Double Fine Studios (Psychonauts, Brutal Legend), Costume Quest is an RPG that captures the magic and style of Halloween as you attempt to save your brother (or sister).  As is the case with other Double Fine games, their trademark humor is evident throughout the game; from the special attack names to the collectible candy trading cards you find, you will always find something that tickles your funny bone and makes you chuckle.

When your character and sibling go out trick or treating in your new town, (you pick whether to play as Wren, the girl, or Reynold, the boy) the first house you trick or treat at has a monster inside, stealing all the candy.  Seeing the sibling dressed in a candy corn costume, they assume it is just a big talking candy.  They take your sibling and throw him over a gate.  This is where your adventure begins as you attempt to rescue them from the evil, stupid grubbins.

Your adventure will take you from the suburbs to the mall and to the country before finally facing the villain.  When you begin in the suburbs, you must trick or treat every house of candy before the grubbins will pack up and move on to the next area.  As you trick or treat, you will have one of two things happen.  An adult dressed in costume will open the door and give you candy (the currency in the game) or you will be faced with a grubbin stealing the candy.  If it’s a grubbin, you will launch into a standard RPG turn-based battle mode.  Whichever costume your characters are dressed as at the time of the initial encounter will be the characters they fight as.  When the game begins, you have a robot and a knight.  The kids grow into full sized versions of the characters with attacks and special attacks at their disposal.  The robot’s special attack is a missile barrage that attacks all enemies.  The knight has a shield that can protect one character from a majority of damage.  These special attacks must charge and recharge so you cannot use them every round.  Upon completion of the battle, you gain experience to level up and candy, as well as candy based trading cards, which really have no use other than to collect them all.

As the game progresses, you will find other costume patterns and must find the required three elements of the costume to activate it.  You will find a ninja, a cat, a pumpkin, french fries, a grubbin, a unicorn, a vampire, and more.  While you cannot change out your costume in the middle of a battle, outside of battle you can change at will, as some of the costumes have an activated special ability.  The space man has a laser sword that can light up dark areas so you can traverse safely.  The knights shield can protect you from falling debris and water.  Using the special abilities properly will net you more candy in hidden areas as well as find more side quests to net you more, well, candy.

You can use all this candy you get to buy battle stamps.  These stamps can then be equipped on your characters to provide numerous battle bonuses.  From an attack that poisons enemies and drains their hit points every round to bulking up your attack to counter attacking if you are attacked, there are a lot of battle stamps to buy.  Equipping these stamps for the boss battles is the strategy to effectively survive the encounters.

As a downloadable title, Costume Quest is not a huge game.  While it doesn’t have a timer, I would guess that I put in maybe 8-10 hours on the first playthrough and 5-6  the second.  Even short, it is worth every penny (or MS Point) that you spend on it.  It is super rare for me to play a game through more than once.  I have played this through twice now and loved every minute, both times.  It capture the Halloween season so phenomenally that I couldn’t resist playing it again for the Halloween Horror Celebration.

It really does capture the greatness of the Halloween season.  The houses are decked out and decorated for Halloween; from jack ‘o lanterns to cheap ‘Happy Halloween’ signs hanging on their garage, from bobbing for apples to kids playing pranks, everything is here.  And that is just in the suburbs.  When you get to the mall, the mall has a costume contest, and is decorated for the holiday.  When you get to the country, the houses are all decorated and you must gain access to a Halloween carnival.  While we don’t see this type of Halloween devotion nowadays (sadly), the game does inspire a nostalgic feel that captures the magic of Halloween.

I cannot recommend this game more.  Having played through it twice now, I have loved every minute of it.  If you haven’t checked it out yet, please do so.  It is fun and nostalgic; not only for Halloween but for the glory days of 16-bit turn based RPG‘s.  While it is not as long as I would have liked it to be, it is sure to have you grinning from ear to ear with it’s references and humorous writing style.  Do yourself a favor and check it out.  And where is a sequel, Double Fine?!

Costume Quest is available on Xbox 360 Arcade, the Playstation Network, and on Steam.  Clearly, it is everywhere and you have no reason not to play!

9/10

 

 

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