Image copyright THQ 2010
It’s that time of the week once again, my fellow nerds. Time to talk about a game that I personally recommend to you. And this week’s entry just so happens to coincide with my favourite holiday of the year, Hallowe’en. Yes, I know it’s a good six days early, but it would be too late to talk about a Hallowe’en themed game after the day itself, so it’s this week’s entry. Gather around children as your resident Nerd-in-the-Know tells you more about Costume Quest.
[Enter scary mad scientist laugh here]
A staple part of any child’s upbringing (certainly in the good ole USofA) is the act of Trick or Treating, and Costume Quest takes this to a whole other level.
An RPG at heart, Costume Quest features a group of children who spend their Hallowe’en night trying to save their neighbourhood from invading monsters who have come to steal all their candy.
There’s slightly more to it than that, but that’s a big thing to the game.
As this is Hallowe’en, our heroes are dressed in the best costumes they can find/make. However, as this is an RPG, the costumes also have added bonuses.
For example, the robot costume grants you a speed boost in the open-world (thanks to it’s “rocket-powered” roller skates), whilst the knight costume gives you a shield (because of course it does!). Some costumes, like the Statue of Liberty one, don’t grant any special powers in the open-world sections of the game, but they do complete your team’s ensemble, and you can’t progress further into the game without them.
And this wouldn’t be an RPG without intense turn-based battles.
Costume Quest takes the genre classic battle system and adds its own flair of originality to it. Mainly, any costume your characters are wearing in the open-world become monolithic interpretations in battle. Above you can see what the Robot and Statue of Liberty costumes look like in battle mode.
Each costume also has its own special ability in battle. For instance, the Robot warrior launches a barrage of missiles at the opposing team which can sometimes result in a burn effect added to them, whilst the Statue of Liberty will restore a medium amount of health to your team.
It’s not all costume collecting and big arena battles, however, as your primary goal in Costume Quest is to collect as much candy as possible.
This being Hallowe’en, candy is a profitable source of collectable item, and, with enough candies, you can purchase special cards that add bonus effects in battles, or costume pieces. But if you want to collect enough candies for the top prizes, you’re going to need a bigger pale.
Thankfully, your characters earn bigger buckets during the course of the game (which act like the traditional inventory systems in other RPGs).
Your initial paper bag will hold a mere 200 candies, for instance, whilst the large plastic pumpkin pale will hold 5000. These figures are probably inaccurate as I couldn’t recall off the top of my head what the exact figures were, but you get my drift.
Costume Quest is as cute as it looks in these images, with a playful tone used in dialogue (even between the invading monsters) and a quaint setting that takes you from the neighbourhood to the bayou to the mall and beyond.
Everywhere is explorable (to an extent) and you’ll find you need to visit everywhere to get everything the game has to offer. The genre-specific trope of “explore everywhere every time” is taken a little too literally with Costume Quest at times as, whilst nowhere near as in-depth as Skyrim or The Legend of Zelda, there’s still plenty of places you’ll need to figure out how to get to.
However, the open-worlds limitations (namely, your character’s limitations) present a difficult task that the look of the game wouldn’t attest to. For instance, the camera is always in a fixed aerial position during open-world settings, and one of the easiest ways to gain some candies is to go door-to-door Trick or Treating.
However, it can become difficult to tell which houses you’ve visited and which ones you need to get to as you’re unable to pan the camera across.
This is a small grievance I have with the game and ultimately adds to the longevity of the play, but it can become time-consuming trying to search for things using a strictly fixed camera.
Also, at times, a difficulty spike will occur out of nowhere. You’ll be playing along, battling hordes of enemies and then a boss-battle will occur.
9 times out of 10, you’ll win in decisive fashion, but sometimes the boss will prove to be much more difficult than they probably should be at that moment.
Again, you could see that as a false negative as it adds to the playtime, but it means you’ll have to spend ages grinding away to get to that next level, which can sometimes take an absurd amount of time.
Of course, all of this nit-picking isn’t in the nature of the game. The levels are splendidly cartoon in design, the action is appropriate for the genre, and the puzzles are difficult enough to make you not get bored with them and easy enough to not leave the need to consult the internet for help. The kid’s adventure is heartfelt and considering how lowkey everything is, it’s actually a pretty decent game.
If nothing else, it’ll help get you in the mood for Hallowe’en, and maybe even give you some ideas on a costume.
Nerd Rating; 7/10 – a lovely game and a decent enough RPG that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Costume Quest fails to stand out in the overly crowded genre, but as a friendly romp or introduction to the RPG world, you’d be hard-done-by to find a better alternative. Plus, it’s all about kids wearing Hallowe’en costumes that turn into Kaiju-sized behemoths to battle evil monsters. What more could you ask for?
If you like this, try; Costume Quest 2, Stacking