Costume Quest

Deck the halls with… oops, wrong holiday! Pumpkins. That’s right; Halloween is almost upon us. Whether you plan to spend it terrifying yourself/others, or having some spooky fun is always your choice. There are plenty of terrifying games out there, but what if you’re more of a themed, fun kind of gamer? Then Developers Double Fine think they have just the thing in the form of Xbox Live Arcade title Costume Quest.

Costume Quest takes place in a quiet suburban neighbourhood, as some twins set out for a night of wholesome trick or treating. Much to their surprise, the threat isn’t mean adults, or even greedy other kids… it’s monsters! Grubbins to be precise. And for reasons unbeknown to us, Grubbins need candy. And not just a little bit, they want to clean the town out. It’s such a shame one of the twins thought it would be a good idea to dress as candy. They’re certain to be kidnapped! With a sibling to save and monsters on the streets, only you can team up with neighbourhood kids to save the day. “But I’m only a kid!”, I hear you cry. Well, lucky for you, this is where the Costume Quest stands out from the crowd.

Homemade costumes may look crummy to the casual observer (after all, cardboard isn’t actually a miracle material) but we all know that seeing the world through a child’s eyes makes everything that little bit magical. In battle, you can expect your glitter and toilet paper tubes to transform into magnificent creatures, from robots to unicorns! The power of a child’s imagination is staggering to say the least. Fighting fearsome creatures may be necessary, but exploration perks attached to your costumes mean that navigating the area may involve some sneaky costume changes. Not only is this whole idea quirky and brilliantly portrayed, it also takes us back to our childlike innocence. Costume Quest feels like it may be wearing a sticker saying “suitable for inner children of all ages”, and who can say no to that?

The script is also good, with Double Fine founder and gaming visionary Tim Schafer adding his usual touches. It was his comedic story-telling that shone through in games such as the Monkey Island series and Grim Fandango, and although the comedy feels a little diluted in Costume Quest, the story is still captivating and coupled with more than the occasional chuckle.

Graphically, Costume Quest has gone for a bright and clean cartoony feel. This gives it a simple and family-friendly feel, which is really what the game is all about. Although claiming RPG status, the simplicity of the game means this definitely gets categorised as RPG-lite; those of you who have played Penny Arcade may notice similarities at this level. The characters do level up and are able to attach upgrades. However, the battles, whilst entertaining, are basically a long Quick Time Event; you’re simply told “Hit A”, “Move LS” and similar commands, for both offence and defence. This means that anyone could pick up and play this game, but it does limit the depth of the experience if it’s not what you’re expecting.

One gripe I did have in this wacky little adventure was the save system. Sparsely placed auto-saves can complicate matters when you’re not sure how to trigger one; events that update your quest diary or move you to another area are the only triggers. You may well find yourself completely unaware of when it last saved, turning it off and then finding you need to redo a handful of things. This may not be that time-costly, but it’s hardly how you want to spend your gaming hours.

Realistically, Costume Quest is a very short game, providing only five or six hours of gameplay. For its price tag of 1,200 Microsoft Points this may prove too hefty for some, especially with its light-hearted family feel. I, however, thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. The imaginative story and fantastic transformations really made me feel like a kid again. There are many full length games that would be hard-pushed to rival the fun I experienced.







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