System: Playstation 3 (also on Xbox 360 and Steam)
Genre: RPG, Adventure
Developer: Double Fine Productions
Release Date: October 19, 2010
So, it’s fall, folks. The leaves have changed color and are falling off the trees, the smell of pumpkin pie is in the air (if you’re lucky), and everyone is trying to figure out what they want to be for Halloween. Considering the season, Sony couldn’t have picked a better time to offer Costume Quest for free to Playstation Plus users.
This Halloween-themed RPG adventure places you in the role of either Reynold or Wren, a young brother/sister tandem who are sent out by their parents to trick-or-treat and make new friends in their suburban neighborhood. Unfortunately for them, as soon as they leave their house, one of the siblings is kidnapped by a monster. It is your goal to go forth and retrieve your sibling from the evildoers, as your parents wouldn’t exactly be keen on just one child returning home.
It’s a simple plot, but perfectly appropriate for what is ultimately a nostalgia-tinged “lite” RPG. Double Fine have taken a basic adventure and stripped it down to its core elements. In place of character classes, you collect costumes that can be worn for different abilities. Some, such as the knight and robot, are simply for attacking, while others like the Statue of Liberty can be used for healing purposes. The turn-based combat is about as bare-bones as you can get: when you choose to attack (either standard or special, the latter of which must be built up over turns) you are then given a button to press at an exact moment, which will yield an added boost if timed correctly. After your characters finish their attacks, the enemies do the same, and it’s lather-rinse-repeat. Outside of choosing different costumes pre-battle, little strategy is required.
There isn’t a whole lot of depth to the game, which some may find disappointing. However, even though the game is a brief 5-6 hours in length, it is highly enjoyable throughout. Double Fine’s trademark sense of humor — rife with amusing pop culture references — is always present, and the dialogue (all text-based) is often clever. It helps that the game uses a charming, easy-to-love cartoonish visual style, as well.
Costume Quest succeeds in creating a lite RPG that can appeal to all ages, kid to adult. Kids will love the game’s Halloween setting and easy-to-understand combat mechanics, whereas adults will be more into the nostalgia side of things and the sly writing style. There are some issues with combat getting a tad too repetitive near the end, and of course the game’s short length is a bit disconcerting for the $15 price tag, but overall Costume Quest is still a fun adventure that is perfect for the month of October. If you’re looking for a bite-sized adventure to play in between some of this season’s big guns, you can’t do much better than this.