I love Halloween. The candy, the decorations, the seasonal horror shows that most networks replay every year – I love it all. So, you can assume when I hear that Double Fine (makers of Psychonauts… and Brutal Legend, but let’s focus on Psychonauts for this) are making an all new download only game surrounding Halloween, I got really excited. But then I found out it will be an RPG, a turn based RPG to be more specific. I got worried. I’ve never been good at turn based RPGs, I’ll just say it. The only one I’ve ever beaten was Paper Mario on the 64, and I was 9; this is sad I know . But, somehow, Costume Quest has kept my interest throughout the past weeks, and maybe it’s because I just love getting in the Halloween spirit, or that I just want to love another game by Double Fine, but the mere fact that I’m about 75% sure I want to buy it on launch day is a true testament to this game’s charm.
Like any good trick-or-treating story, it all starts on a dark Halloween night. You choose to play either the boy or girl part of a twin duo, whomever you don’t pick gets kidnapped by some monsters, and it is up to you to save your sibling. I love that the developers seem to really be capturing the childlike wonder that going out on Halloween night had for all of us. The neighborhood acts as a quasi hub world, where you will run around trick or treating for candy that seems to be money in the eyes of the other children, and getting quests to further the search for your lost family member. Other areas will even extend beyond the neighborhood, bringing you to a carnival and a mall.
However, when you’re not hoarding candy and trying to get cool costume parts to kick butt in battle, you will have to fight some monsters. This is where the childlike imagination really becomes blatantly obvious. Basically, whenever you come into contact with enemies, your costume morphs and enlarges into a giant and real version of what your tiny little kid character was wearing. And they have some really hilarious options: from a blue robot, space ninja, knight in armor, and… a unicorn. Each costume promises different uses, tactics and abilities in battle. The good part is that you’ll be able to bring up to four of the local neighborhood’s children (AI only, no online co-op here) to help you out in these battles. So you don’t have to be the idiot wearing the unicorn outfit, even if you want to see it kick a monster’s ass. Thank god.
The battles seem pretty fast paced. You have your obvious block, attack and special move pertaining to what costume you’re wearing. What seems to keep it quick is the use of timed button presses that will need to be hit in order to attack with a higher amount of damage, and end the battle sooner and with less health loss. I like that idea of keeping the player involved and on his or her toes. I lose interest really fast in those practically auto-played RPGs; the more input the better.
I love the idea of Double Fine making more downloadable games (another one, not Costume Quest related, is in the works). Considering that Brutal Legend and Psychonauts weren’t exactly fountains of gold, a tiny and bite sized download only game could be perfect for them. It’s low key (no voice acting, but the writing is the exact hilarity and goofiness you expect) and still manages to fit in tons of quests, hilarious characters, and my favorite kind of loot – candy! It seems that Double Fine has perfectly captured that one night a year all of us looked forward to as kids. Costume Quest comes out this Wednesday, October 20th, on PlayStation Network and XBLA for $15 (or 1200 MSP). So break out the candy bowl, put out the jack o’ lantern, and get ready for some good ol’ fashioned questing; because this year, Halloween comes early.