Review: Costume Quest
Developer: Double Fine Productions - Publisher: THQ - Platforms: Playstation Network, Xbox Live Arcade, PC - Release Date: October 19, 2010
Concept: Somehow manage to turn the most exciting part of Halloween into a complete and utter bore
Graphics: Cute and appealing, as it should be
Sound: Fitting music, but nothing you'll remember once you're done
Playability: Collecting costumes is enjoyable, but combat is too simplistic to hold your attention long
Entertainment: Charm only goes so far when the gameplay is this dull
Replay Value: Very Low
Nothing Sweet At This House
Halloween is probably my favorite holiday and combining it with my favorite pastime sounds like one hell of a winning recipe - or so I thought. Despite my love of all things Tim Schafer and Double Fine, Costume Quest made me grateful that we only do this stuff once a year.
As the name implies, Costume Quest's main hook is collecting a bunch of different costumes. Each outfit has a unique power used both on and off the battlefield, such as the ninja costume's cloaking and the protective shield of the knight. I enjoyed assembling the parts to each costume, and watching them take on a life of their own in battle is both rewarding and amusing.
After choosing between siblings Reynold and Wren, the leftover child is kidnapped by monsters. Your rescue mission mainly consists knocking on doors and relieving houses of their precious candy. Visit a house with a monster, however, and you'll have to defeat it. It's not the guessing game that it sounds like; you're required to hit every house before moving on, meaning there is no escape from the real Halloween horror: the one-dimensional combat.
In an interesting move, combat follows the old school turn-based RPG template and is as bland and uninspired as a lazy kid's ghost costume. You have standard attacks that build up to a special attack, and that's pretty much it. Almost every encounter plays out in the same, repetitive formula: two rounds of basic offense, hit your flashy special on the third, rinse and repeat. Grab some coffee, because you'll spend a majority of your time in battle, struggling to stay awake.
I'm not expecting this to be Final Fantasy or anything, but even minute additions, such as items or a defense option, can make a big difference in keeping things interesting. Ability-granting stamps add a thin layer of strategy, but since enemies are neither challenging or varied, I found little reason to experiment and stuck with my preferred loadout for most of the game. My favorite parts of Costume Quest was searching each area and chatting with the amusing townsfolk, so I wish exploration was the focus instead of such dull combat.
Side quests are just as monotonous. The same batch of missions - bobbing for apples, finding kids playing hide-and-seek, and collecting rare cards for some dumb kid - appear in each area and comprise the bulk of your extracurricular activities. Like the combat, these quests are not necessarily bad; they're just flat out boring. Given the creative and mischievous nature of Halloween, numerous possibilities exist for side content. Let me teepee a house, compete with other kids for candy, or maybe even enter a neighborhood-wide egg fight. There are also not enough missions that utilize your costume abilities.
In the end, Costume Quest's humor and charm are the only thing that brought a smile to my face; everything else feels like the video game equivalent of receiving an apple instead of a Kit Kat.
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