Sweet As Syrup: Costume Quest Review

You know, Halloween is right around the corner. You got free candy, cartoon-ish depictions of characters you would normally not find adorable, and just a general good atmosphere for children to spend time with their parents. And by that definition, it sounds like a really good time. So, that’s why I chose this hallowed month of October to talk about a Halloween-themed game. Why not, right? So, without further adieu I bring you the  ultimate Halloween classic: Costume Quest.

Background Information

Costume Quest came into existence when its development team “Double Fine” held events for their workers. These events were known as “Amnesia Fortnights” and involved the developers splitting into several smaller groups to work on prototype for potential new games. This was due to the developers being unsure of their developer, and need backup plan in case their upcoming project “Brutal Legend” failed. So, the developers came up with several concepts for new game franchises.

One such concept was Costume Quest, a Halloween-themed game that ended up being released in 2010. This game was a turn-based RPG with simple mechanics aimed towards not only kids, but people of all ages! The game was re-released with an added expansion pack later which was labelled “Grubbins On Ice”. A sequel was released in 2014, several years after the original.

Plot

It’s Halloween night and two young siblings known as “Wren” and “Reynold” are about to go trick-or-treating. Their family has moved to a new town and the twins have yet to make any friends. In order to keep the pair in line on this tremendously important day, Unfortunately, bizarre goblin-like creatures known as “Grubbins”, have started stealing all the candy in town. Not only that, but they’ve also stolen your sibling, who is a clad in a candy-corn costume. It’s up  to you to stop the Grubbins, save your sibling, and defeat the evil mysterious witch known as Dorsilla.

The plot is pretty basic, and brings to mind a lot of old Saturday morning cartoons. The characters don’t receive that much development throughout the game. Despite this, the dialogue for each character is extremely entertaining and well-written. I was grinning from ear-to-ear the first time I played through this entire game! Despite the game’s basic plot, it has a lot of heart put into it. It’s not a story that will rock your world, but it will definitely make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Gameplay

Much like the plot, the gameplay is pretty basic. The game itself is a turn-based RPG and it requires you taking turns to attack, defend, or heal during a battle. You can also do special attacks as well, which do extra damage or cause special effects such as healing you or buffing your entire party. You can also equip stamps to your party, which provide extra boosts in combat. Your entire party has the special and unexplained ability to turn into whatever costume you’re wearing, which is great for party customization! You’ll gain various costumes throughout your playthrough, each with their own pros and cons.

Despite the amount of costumes you can use, I found some of them to be pretty worthless. One such costume was the Black Cat costume, which didn’t really offer that much bonuses, despite the fact that you need to complete most of the game to get it. While the combat itself is an RPG, the gameplay outside of the combat is strictly an adventure game. You adventure around while attempting to solve area puzzles and trying to find as many costume pieces as possible. Of course, you also trick or treat in this game. Candy acts as a currency in this game, which allows you to buy stronger battle stamps.

Aside from the final bosses, I never found the combat all that difficult. The puzzles were never too intricate and I never found myself getting stuck for too long. On top of this, the game is only about 6-8 hours long, although the free-expansion included with the game adds an extra 1-2 hours. On top of this, it doesn’t take too long to 100% complete the game. This lack of content and difficulty may be a turnoff for some folk. This game was made with children in mind, and it’s short length is there for people so they can complete it in a day or two. Still, don’t let the simplistic combat and gameplay turn you off. Costume Quest is fun despite its lack of difficulty and length.

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Yes, you can become any of those big giant battle creatures in the back. Halloween games sure are a magic time…

Visual Stimuli

The game boasts cartoon-y 3D graphics, which look really nice. Each character has a simplistic design that becomes far more detail during combat. Each costume has its own unique battle-form, you will never encounter any palette-swaps here. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the enemies which re-use a lot of their designs for later enemies. The game has a pretty good soundtrack as well. It’s nothing spectacular, but it sounds good enough and definitely sets the mood for virtual trick-or-treating.

The controls I found to be pretty basic, much like a lot of the game. If you’re like me and playing this on PC, make sure to turn sticky keys off, as the game asks you to mash the ctrl key a lot. The game features a lot of speech bubbles as opposed to having actual voice-actors. I can understand that they were cutting costs with this, but I feel like having actual voice actors would’ve brought a bit more charm to the character’s dialogue. This isn’t an insult against the game, as I found the production values to be pretty top-notch. It’s rare to find a game that is both charming and nice to look at in this day and age!

In Summation

This game is simple, yet entertaining. It’s mechanics are easy to grasp, but still fun to use. Sure, while the game is short and at times kind of repetitive, it makes for it with heart. I reccomend getting this game on sale, as opposed to full price though. I don’t think it’s worth the 11 dollar price tag. I got it for about 2 bucks, and that’s how much I think one should pay for this game. No more than five dollars, at the most. Still, if you can get it, you’ll definitely have a great time with it. That’s why I can say that this game is definitely as sweet as syrup. Just keep in mind that what you getting is not very long, doesn’t offer a lot of replay value, and is not worth full price. It’s worth getting on sale definitely though, especially if you love Tim Schafer’s comedy writing and the Halloween atmosphere.

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