Costume Quest (PSN) ReviewGreg Knoll
Allow me, if you will, to pose a rather odd set of questions: When you were little, and you bought a new pair of shoes did you immediately run around the store or leap through the air because you believed these new footwear items would make you faster or jump higher? And when you put on a costume for Halloween, did that same empowerment establish itself again? Did you imagine taking on the abilities of a superhero, a witch or even Tweety Bird?
Those were rhetorical, mind you. I know you did. We all did. It was part of the joy of being a kid and being able to use your imagination.
This is the essence of Costume Quest, the new project from developer Double Fine. Some of you may remember their last incredible game, Brutal Legend. And though these games seem worlds apart, Costume Quest has the same charm, down-to-earth quality, humor and entertainment value that made Legend famous, though it seems more targeted to a younger audience.
It begins in the home of young Reynold and Wrentwo siblings getting ready to embark on one of the most important quests in a toddlers life; Trick or Treating. When the dialogue about making new friends from Reynold and Wrens mother ends, youre given the option to pick between the two young children. Your choice ends up putting your character in an extravagant, well-designed robot costume, while your sibling is forced to endure the humiliation of looking like a giant candy corn. But its for free candy, so despite all the complaining Reynold and Wren head out for a night of sugar consumption and hijinks. Unfortunately, the very first house they happen upon leaves them face-to-face with a monster. And no, not a loopy, Neverland complex adult in a funny outfit, Im talking full-fledged yellow teethed troll. AND HES STEALING THE WORLDS CANDY!
Okay, sorry, that was a touch dramatic but its true. And what is the first thing this simple-minded grunt does when he sees the massive candy corn before him? He nabs it, of course, then runs off to hurl it over a mysterious, gothic-styled gate. You make chase, but youre too late and the ogre turns on you, ready to fight. It hardly seems fair, but then something magical happens: the cardboard, spray painted robot costume morphs into an actual, missile-firing hardened metal machine in order to do battle. Its here you learn Double Fines ingenious turn-based battle system. Essentially, its simple and one buttontypically squarewill lead you into your basic attack. Once initiated, it requires you to respond to another prompt which can vary depending on the costume. For the robot, its a bar across the screen that fills up. When it gets to a certain point, you must press the button again in order for your attack to have full power. Miss, and you do far less damage. When an enemy attacks, you can lessen the impact with a well timed press of one of four of the main buttons, which varies with each attack. Much like Shadow Hearts implementing such a system involves and forces the player to concentrate, making it all the more entertaining.
If battles last more than two rounds, you earn the ability to do a special attack. Again, these change depending on which costume youve chosen to wear. The robots chest opens up and he unleashes dozens of missiles onto every enemy. The knight (the second costume you gain access to) can put a protective barrier over himself or another character, practically nullifying any damage they receive. Since youre not given the option to use items or even magic, using these skills at the right time can determine the outcome of a close battle.
Once the initial battle ends, you are returned to the world map where you encounter another strange creaturethis one a mysterious woman who, through the use of magic, teleports you to the other end of the street and takes your costume from you. Helpless, you begin roaming the streets in search of materials to make another.
While saving your sibling is the overall goal, finding that costume and more after are a large part of the entertainment value. Sometimes finding a piece is as easy as opening a chest, other times its a reward for accomplishing one of the games several side-quests, like finding children that are hiding around the neighborhood, playing bobbing for apples or winning a costume contest.
Doing these is a nice distraction from the actual mission, and some can be rather humorous but the one issue I had is while there are twelve or so in the first level. The game has 2 more areas for you to explore, the mall and eventually the monsters village, and the quests are almost exactly the same. Each requires you to bob for apples and find children playing hide and seek. By the final level, it grates slightly.
Fortunately, the creativity is rejuvenated by the actual costumes. While all of them have special attacks used in battle, several have unique properties that you can (and sometimes have to) use on the world map. If youre wearing the robot costume, you can use the roller skates to zoom around twice as fast as you could walk. The knight costume lets you use the shield to protect you from falling debris, or angry squirrels hurling nuts (yes, thats actually in there). You could easily just stick to the story missions, but the abilities provided by these costumes are well worth the time spent in finding them.
Even if you do complete every side-quest available, though, the game is incredibly short, and never really goes in to how these children are able to do such miraculous things with their costumes, if its not just all their imagination to begin with. Combined with the somewhat simplistic art style and average graphics, Costume Quest has its share of flaws.
That, however, doesnt make it unplayable by any means. Given the price tag for it ($14.99) I would say its more than worth it, as it provides several hours of entertainment and a great edition for anyone seeking to get into the Halloween spiritso long as you have an inner child.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.
May I have the strength to lead with compassion. May I have a resolve strong enough to inspire it in others. May my heart be true, my motives virtuous, my spirit valiant. And whether I fail or succeed, may I at least be brave in the attempt.
About the Author: Greg Knoll
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