It's just like every Halloween; your parents have entrusted you to look after your twin as you venture out to trick-or-treat in your new neighbourhood, however with only one good costume your sibling is forced to dress as a giant Candy Corn! Unfortunately this makes him an easy target for the candy-raving monsters that are suddenly ravaging the town! So as you would expect, don your roleplaying hat and be prepared to rescue your twin on a dangerous quest, after all, it is up to you to collect candy, make costumes, and save the world!
To explain the idea of Costume Quest is quite strange, the best example is if you remember the episode of Buffy where everyone turned into the costumes that they were wearing. Basically this idea embodies Costume Quest, and so when you are taken into battle you and your friends transform into their costumes, whether you are a packet of French Fries, a Robot or a Unicorn, get ready for the transformation of a life time as the game explores the real imagination that only a child's mind could harbour, the real question is, why is Costume Quest the first game to explore this notion.
A lot of Costume Quest -much like Halloween- is about collecting as much of everything as you possibly can, with a collectable card series, battle stamps, and costume pieces Costume Quest bows to the RPG ideal of collecting everything and talking to everyone, however best of all is that all of these added features do not detract from the main story. In fact you can comfortably save your twin and collect every card as you go unintentionally, without asking you to explore every single nook and cranny in order to sastify your curious desires.
Just like the real world, the currency in Costume Quest is Candy, whilst not essential to progressing through the game you will come to rely on the tasty treats as you use them for purchasing Battle Stamps to enhance your characters battle performance, these can be bought from Sadie the Battle Stamp dealer whose wares are the most important feature to the game and can be found throughout the three locations in Costume Quest; Auburn Pines, the Autumn Haven Mall, and Fall Valley.
A short while into the game you will find that Battle Stamps are your most useful ally, whether you buy them from Sadie or collect them from boss battles, they are modifiers that can be equipped to your team members for use in battle, with a vast collection of battle stamps that can affect your attack, defence, health, ability to dodge or even your chances of making critical hits. Without the Battle Stamps you will find yourself losing a lot of battles, and throughout the game you will find yourself weighing up the positive effects of which stamp is the most effective to equip -as you can only equip one at a time.
The best feature of the different costumes that you will embody is that each has their own special ability; whether you are shooting a hail of missiles towards your foes with the Robot costume, or showering your team mates with a rainbow of healing with the Unicorn each costume has been created in its own quirky and charming way to ensure that Costume Quest is not just your ordinary RPG. If you don't think we mean it, then you need to check out the French Fries' special attack of Salt Assault, or better yet, the Statue of Liberty's Anthem that uses good old American spirit to heal your team mates.
Throughout the game you will encounter many monsters that will force you into combat; the battle system in Costume Quest is basically your traditional Fantasy Fantasy turn based style, mixed with a little QTE to ensure that you feel more a part of the battles than you would in your standard J-RPG. This is accomplished by giving you button commands that when executed correctly will result in a critical hit. The most interesting side of the battles however, is that they are all absolute, and you will not be required to recuperate after every battle, even stranger to this is that Costume Quest contains no failure state of any kind.
What makes Costume Quest so effective is that it is so simple on such a base level, the innocent charm of a child's view of Halloween has never been taken into a game so well before, with side-activities like trick or treating, bobbing for apples and costume contests, you will be feeling nostalgic for the blissful Halloween outings that you never had as a child.
Also the graphics and art style of Costume Quest are so innately simplistic and stripped down that you want to do, is wrap it up and show it to your parents with pride, everything down to the little cat that aides you in your quest, to the abilities that certain costumes give you outside of combat adds to the motherlode of charm that Costume Quest exudes, everything is so adorably put together that unlike most games you won’t find a cringe worthy moment anywhere, despite how cute the game is.
When comparing Costume Quest with your average game you may find some of your standard features lacking; without a mini map a few of the locations can get quite confusing until you've got them wrapped around your head. The want for camera control is also quite big, and you find yourself on occasion annoyed at your character's ability to become stuck behind some scenery that you just can't see through.
However the one true let down of Costume Quest is that unlike Double Fine's previous titles, there is no spoken dialogue, nor is there the simple gibberish that a lot of 'cuter' titles favour over competent dialogue. The writing is still brilliant and some of the remarks made by the children are spectacular, but its missing that sparkle found in the innocent voice of Dogan, or the quips of Eddie Riggs.
Costume Quest can without a doubt be summed up with the phrase 'simple but effective' there are some slight niggles with the title, and its play time is a little short, but it's the most adorably cute game on the market, and nothing can beat the incredulously joyous feeling that can be had from playing such a well executed idea.
Costume Quest is available now on Xbox Live Arcade and the Playstation Network for 1200 Microsoft points and £9.99 respectively, if this review hasn't swayed you then you are dead on the inside, be sure to check out the trial!