Seriously, what better way to celebrate Halloween than this?
I am an avid fan of all things R, P, and G. I don’t discriminate or turn my nose up if there happens to be a “J” in front of those three letters as some will. In fact: I hold a very special place in my heart for the genre. Final Fantasy 9 (yes, 9) is my favorite game of all time, beating out Ms. Pac-Man by a small margin, but taking the top spot all the same. Vivi is too awesome not to love.
So knowing this, it should come as no surprise Costume Quest would land on my radar. Being made by Double Fine Productions (Psychonauts, Brutal Legend) which is headed by Tim Schafer (The Secret of Monkey Island, Day of the Tentacle) certainly helps things. In Costume Quest you play a boy or girl whose sibling is kidnapped by monsters on Halloween and, even though you think they’re annoying and don’t really want to save them, go off in search of their rescue. The writing is wonderful. Funny. Cute. Smart. A little sarcastic. The art is perfect, stylized in a half-anime, half Saturday Morning cartoon. I realize there’s some overlap there. Gameplay is brilliant, letting players obtain and switch between costumes granting varying powers and abilities. The Robot costume has players shooting giant rockets at the enemy, where the more subtle Ninja favors, obviously, stealth. What makes this mechanic so wonderful is the visual cues and transformations the kids go through when a battle gets underway. They become their costume, growing from pint-sized to full Knight and brandishing a too-real sword. We’re reminded what it’s like to be a child, where that rolled-up ball of paper is a grenade or cardboard tube a lightsaber, and monsters are totally-incredibly-impossibly real. I must have smiled the whole way through.
Here’s a complaint for you. A small one, and only one, which might have been bigger if Costume didn’t possess the charm it does, but presentation goes a long-long way. It’s repetitious. You could maybe make the argument most JRPGs are, and you’d be right, though the good ones give sidequests and other distractions by way of variety. Those exist here, though they’re all relatively easy and minor, blending seamlessly enough into the “story” as you move from hub to hub, so as to almost feel a part of the main offering. I don’t remember ever having to go too far out of my way to reach any one thing, even when looking to unlock the “special” costumes and differing achievements. Again, the concept is enough to keep me hooked, but I would have been okay with more.
Costume Quest is the perfect Halloween game. It’s everything I love about the holiday: monsters, dressing up, candy, and make-believe. Cannot recommend enough.
As a P.S.: in looking up the trailer, I discovered Costume Quest 2 is out. I’m not sure how I missed it, but I’m remedying that wrong right after hitting the “publish” button.