Bev Chen
30 Oct, 2010

Costume Quest Review

360 Review | Short but sweet.
This year’s Games Connect Asia Pacific expo was a real treat for us, allowing us to rub shoulders with and hear from some of the best industry talent the Asia Pacific region has to offer. One of the most exciting keynote speeches however, came from Nathan Martz, one of the main project leads from Double Fine Productions. When discussing about the production of the company's second game, Brutal Legend, Nathan talked about an idea the development team had, which they dubbed Amnesia Fortnight. The idea of Amnesia Fortnight was to separate into small teams and build different playable prototype for two weeks, so that they could come back to the main project feeling refreshed. Their latest game, Costume Quest, is the result of this process, and a testament to what studios can be capable of in such a short period of time.

Costume Quest is all about the relationship between a brother and sister. Oh, and Halloween. And monsters trying to steal candy on Halloween. You play as one of two siblings, Reynold or Wren, essentially the game’s way of telling you to pick a gender. Shortly after setting out on an evening of trick-or-treating, your brother/sister is kidnapped by monsters who are hell bent on razing towns for candy and seem to have mistaken your sibling for a giant, wriggling piece of candy corn. Of course, rather than get grounded, you decide to go after him/her.

If I had ever celebrated Halloween, I might have said that to my little brother.

If I had ever celebrated Halloween, I might have said that to my little brother.
If you have brothers or sisters, the writing in Costume Quest will probably be immediately familiar – writers have effortlessly captured the older/younger sibling dynamic and woven it into the dialogue. As with previous Double Fine titles, Costume Quest is also a showcase of snappy and humourous writing, although the lack of voice acting makes the game feel curiously lifeless. However, this is made up for in the game’s adorable visuals and the grandiose (if somewhat repetitive) music.

Costume Quest is structured as a simple RPG, in that you and your companions wander around large, sprawling areas completing various missions and collecting costume patterns and components to gain new abilities. The game’s saving system is a little bit shonky though, as it only saves in the instance that your journal is updated. So if you found some costume parts before completing or receiving a quest and quit the game, enjoy! You’re going to have to do it all again. Most of the quests you find while exploring are optional, but add substantial play time to the game’s four hour length. In order to progress to the next area, you must visit all the houses in the area and collect candy from grown-ups, or fight the monsters inside that have beaten you to the candy-obtaining punch.

Looking good, amigo.

Looking good, amigo.
Exploration is not the only aspect of the game that takes RPG elements - combat does as well. Upon encountering an enemy, you will turn into a very impressive, gender ambiguous version of whatever costume you were wearing. Each costume has its own traits and a special ability; for example, the strong and sturdy knight, with its high HP count and defence, can cast a protective shield around a character that lasts for one turn. Special abilities also get rid of the somewhat typical Japanese RPG notion of Ability Points and instead recharge over time. Executing basic attacks is very easy to get into, sometimes to the point of feeling shallow, and comprises of matching a button press in time to increase the damage done to enemies. It nicely averts the temptation to hammer X over and over again.

It’s also during combat that Costume Quest really comes to life, with outstanding character design, animations and flashy graphical effects lighting up the screen. However, one problem that we had during battle is that the camera often zooms in too much on an attacking enemy, even after they deliver damage, meaning that you have no idea of knowing just how much health you have lost until you draw your attention to your HP.

I'm placing all my bets on the knight.

I'm placing all my bets on the knight.
Despite its RPG roots, Costume Quest is a grinding-free affair. Granted, it might be too easy for most players, but the fact that you can probably make it to the final boss without dying is encouraging and places a refreshing emphasis on simply enjoying the game rather than putting the player’s focus on levelling. Monsters drop just enough experience points for the final battle to feel ‘just right’, and enough candy to make extra abilities very affordable.

If anything, Costume Quest is like the younger sibling that ignores your reluctance, takes you by the hand and drags you off to see its brand new toy. It turns out to be a wonderful toy – it might not last very long, but while it does, it gives you that sense of excitement and familiarity that you long for so much nowadays. And if Double Fine can capture that feeling in a game in just two weeks, who knows what else they are capable of? We’ll only know when the time comes.
The Score
A short, but sweet little game with quirky writing and simple combat, Costume Quest is yet another charming treat from Double Fine Productions and a very promising sign of things to come. 7
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related Costume Quest Content

Costume Quest to get Christmas DLC
21 Nov, 2010 I'm dreaming of a sweet Christmas.
Costume Quest announced
11 Aug, 2010 Trick or treat!
PlayStation Store Update - 23/12/09
23 Dec, 2009 Early Christmas miracles for the little boys and girls.
1 Comment
3 years ago
Games seem to love shonky save systems these days..

Interesting see what the other 3 (?) games they are working on manifest as.
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  20/10/2010 (Confirmed)
Year Made:

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