Costume Quest review
After having high hopes for Tim Schafer’s Brutal Legend and, in turn, being disappointed with the end product, it’s safe to say that any claims of caution with Costume Quest are valid. As an RPG mashed with an adventure title, Costume Quest does enough to hold interest, but fails to provide any incentives to return to the title after completion.
Per the standard for a Schafer title, Costume Quest is full of witty dialogue; although, this time around, there aren’t any memorable characters or a storyline to hold the package together. Comparing to the titles of the past, this is Schafer’s weakest entry when it comes to writing. It effectively hinges on the gimmick of Halloween more so than excellent writing or storytelling. Remove the essence of Halloween – or any holiday theme – and what Costume Quest boils down to is a shallow RPG with the bare minimum adventure elements.
Aside from the mediocre writing, Schafer failed to insert gameplay that is attractive after the first couple hours. Players must travel through three worlds with three younglings who are out to save either Wren or Reynold – depends on what the player selects at the start – from troll-like creatures (grubbins) who are out to steal all the candy on Halloween for a witch (Dorsilla) who is out to pay a debt. Nothing more, nothing less – Costume Quest employs the blueprints of an entertaining plot but fails to deliver.
Throughout the adventure, players collect costumes that are used to enter battles similar to Final Fantasy’s job system; for example, select a unicorn costume, use it in battle to heal your teammates and also attack the enemies with the graceful horn. Even though this may be the most attractive feature of Costume Quest, it’s limited due to only permitting two actions per each costume and only allowing three party members. Having a total of 10 costumes (11 if you count the grubbins disguise that isn’t used for combat), that brings the battle animation count to 20, which, ultimately, paves way for repetition as players progress to the end of the game and max out their characters’ levels at 10. Such as it always is for a title that strives for simplicity, Costume Quest often presents itself as a shell waiting for a slug to fill it and carry it along. As a turn-based role-playing game, Costume Quest never goes the extra mile for customization or in-depth action commands. As an adventure game, it delivers a set of fetch missions, a few escort quests, forced encounters while trick-or-treating, and on-map enemies to avoid or partake in battle. Outside of that, there are battle stamps to collect/buy to change up the effects in battle (stuns, counters, dodges, etc.), bobbing for apples and cards to trade with other young tots in the world. Not much else to see here; a disappointing to say the least.
Beyond the charm and simplicity – and not to mention the thrill of playing Schafer’s next video game – Costume Quest is a mild letdown. Running around 5-6 hours long – depending on the player’s goal to complete all side-quests or collect all the battle stamps and cards – it’s a short title with little to no replay value. Luckily, the time spent in the first playthrough isn’t numbing nor is it a nuisance. Having only experienced only one glitch – getting stuck behind an object – and little to no loading times between battles and worlds, Costume Quest makes headway in the technical areas of the RPG genre that is often plagued by loading.
Many may find the allure of Halloween, cute characters, fantastic art direction – although, by game’s end, it’s all too similar – and costumes attractive, but they should beware; Costume Quest is a short experience that lives off its rudimentary holiday theme.
[Reviewed on Xbox 360 & PS3]