OK there’s nothing scary about Costume Quest but it is Halloween themed so it counts! Costume Quest is a simple RPG game that follows a group of children out trick or treating on Halloween. Things get a little more interesting when your protagonist (you have a choice of a male of female protagonist) discovers a sinister plot by creatures called ‘Grubbins’ to steal all the candy for an unknown but more than likely nefarious deed. To make matters worse they have mistaken your sibling for a giant candy and have taken him as well. You’ll have to stop the Grubbins nefarious plans and get you brother back because you’ll be in deep trouble if you return home without him!
The pedigree of this game is obvious once you play it. The lead designer was Tasha Harris, a former Pixar animator, and the legendary Tim Schafer helped with the development as well. The game has bags of charm and is a very nostalgic experience even if it represents a more American view of Halloween. I don’t know any shopping centers in Ireland that are open for trick or treating and most costumes in my youth had a black bin-liner poncho as a base. The writing is witty and got a fair few laughs out of me. It’s got a very distinctive charming visual style.
There are no random battles in Costume Quest. Every time you trick or treat a house there’s a chance you’ll either receive candy, which acts as currency in the game, or you’ll be attacked by Grubbins. Later on you’ll see Grubbins walking around and can get an upper hand in battle by sneaking up on them. Your powers in battle are determined by what costume you have on and once you enter battle you take a gigantic, more realistic form of the costume you are wearing, a nice play on the active imaginations of children. It borrows from the Mario RPG games using timed prompts to inflict more damage with basic attacks. The battle system is quite simplistic but since the game is quite short the game ends before you bore of it, unlike other games like the woeful Legend of Dragoon. More costumes are unlocked by finding their patterns and then searching each area for the parts required to complete it. Some costumes also have functions outside of combat like the robot that allows you to use ramps and the Luke Skywalker knock off which lights up dark areas with his lightsaber.
Costume Quest is a wonderfully charming bite sized RPG that’s well worth playing coming up to Halloween. It is perfect adults looking for a shot of nostalgia and kids as well since it’s short, easy and the punishment for failure is very lenient, dropping you back to just before the last battle. One minor problem is the text during cutscenes proceeds automatically and can be too fast for children but other than that it’s one of the best downloadable games money can buy. There’s also Christmas themed DLC called Grubbins on Ice which is included in the price when bought on Steam. I know what I’ll be playing on the run up to the festive season.