Short Wave Gamin #4: Costume Quest

Costume QuestHappy day after Halloween everybody! It’s been a while. Mostly I’ve been waking up, going straight to work, working all day and, once getting home, playing video games for a few hours until I fall asleep. So what have I been playing?

My one main goal last week was to finish Costume Quest before Halloween. The premise is simple, your sibling is captured and you have to go find her. Also, monsters are stealing all the candy. The game play is turn based combat in a tiny pseudo open world environment. There are three levels that each contain houses (or shops) where you can go trick or treating. Behind the door is either a human more than willing to give you candy or a monster. In traditional RPG fashion you start at level 1 and gain XP from completing quests and defeating monsters until you hit the level cap of 10, and you’ll most definitely make it there by the end of the game. The currency system in the game, much like in the real world, is candy and it can be found everywhere. You gain candy from defeating the monsters, from the people who aren’t monsters behind the house door, from complete quests, and by hitting just about everything in the world from mail boxes to trashcans to piles of leaves. The costume that you are wearing determines you special abilities. As a robot you transform into an impressive Gundam-esque mech, as the knight you become…yup, a big knight, and so forth. I found myself using the robot through out the entire play through on my main character and switching out the rest of my party.

It feels and looks a lot like the RPGs of old, like Chrono Trigger, Earthbound, FFVI, Super Mario RPG, and the fun is there but the world is just not the same. It’s like a small scale version of any of those games mentioned. Just when you’ve become tired of trick or treating the monsters start free roaming the level adding a nice variety, but soon enough you will be back going to houses to try and snatch some of that sweet sweet candy.

And why shouldn’t you? The game is about children on Halloween trick or treating, so it makes sense to come back to the mechanic. And, honestly, I wasn’t looking forward to more trick or treating when I had pick it up again a little after the start of the second level, but it’s just a necessary grind and it’s much better than having someone tell me to go collect 50 horns from some beast that only lives in a certain area for the 15th time.

And of course there’s the humor: bumbling adults, hypocritical adults, jaded children, it’s a small world full of characters both with costume and without. The humor pushes the game along, and if you do find yourself growing tired or weary of what’s going on, there’s always a good laugh just around the corner.

Of course it’s not without it’s problems. Maybe it’s just me but I wasn’t a fan of the save structure. The game saves itself after you complete a quest, but I never found it saving at any other point. This became very hectic when, int he final stage, I went a good 30 to 45 minutes without being able to save or have a check point or anything. Add to that how I was trying to just play for another 10 minutes and then get some sleep and I was not a happy trick or treat-er. But after it all I’m glad I kept playing and made it to the next save point. It was frustrating, but so are old school RPGs, and while this wasn’t anywhere near the throw-my-controller-against-the-wall-and-then-stop-on-it-until-its-electrical-guts-are-all-over-the-fucking-floor like older hardcore RPGs, that very short frustrating element brought me back to my pre-high school days of gaming, back when I was still trick or treating. Costume Quest does not touch the difficulty level of the of older RPGs but it captures the nostalgia perfectly.

Costume Quest isn’t an easy game, you will die if you don’t pay attention to your battles, but there isn’t too much of a penalty if you do lose so don’t worry too much. And if you’re looking for achievements or trophies there couldn’t be an easier game to 100%. I was able to finish the game with every achievement as I completed my first play through. It’s not exactly a daunting task either, everything makes sense to do so there isn’t much of a reason not to.

In short, I really enjoyed Costume Quest. It provides just enough challenge to keep you playing while subtly changing the game play enough to keep it interesting. It doesn’t go on too long, I’ve read people say it should have been longer but I think it was the perfect length for the game. About 7 hours of seeing your Halloween costume actually transform you into a super being, 27 years old and finally someone gave me my wish.