Costume Quest: review


Costume Quest is a tribute to Halloween first and a game second. It’s an utterly adorable story of children trick-or-treating their way to victory against an evil witch and her band of goblins. But it’s also undeniably simple; it walks a fine line between elegant and boring.

The game begins with a brother and sister about to go out for Halloween. After choosing which of the siblings you’ll play as, you take off into the neighborhood where your sibling is mistaken for a giant piece of candy and kidnapped by goblins. From there you have to trick-or-treat the neighborhood, defeating any monsters you encounter and collecting as much candy as you can.

The style of the adventure is one of the strongest elements. The kids themselves waddle around in their costumes, clanking their candy pails around through an environment that’s so evocative of autumn weather that you can almost smell it. When battles start, the various costumes come to life, realized as the badass 50-foot tall heroes the children imagine them as – it’s awesome.


From the start, most players will no doubt be a bit put off by the game’s lack of voiced dialogue. While the writing is uniformly excellent, the little beep that plays with each new dialogue bubble isn’t enough. Even some stylized mumbo jumbo would’ve been nice but the writing is endearing, and the bubbles are comedically timed, so you do get used to it.

Costume Quest is, at heart, steeped in JRPG-esque mechanics. You explore a town, mall, and carnival raiding the environment for candy, talking to strange townfolk, and initiating battles with goblins. There’s a shop where you trade candy for stamps, providing combat buffs to your party members. And much like modern JRPGs, Costume Quest tinkers with the concept of random battles, making trick-or-treating door-to-door a gamble that can result in candy or a battle. Further into the game enemies will patrol around the environments, giving you an opportunity to sneak up behind them for a battle advantage.

The battles themselves couldn’t be more simple. You trade shots with the enemies in turn-based combat, with simple QTEs (ala the Mario & Luigi RPGs) deciding whether you hit harder or defend better. For the first two-thirds of the game there’s enough enemy variety and new elements introduced that the combat is never boring. This is when Costume Quest is at its best – the story is fun, the combat is just engaging enough, and the questing and exploration keeps things moving along.


But as this decidedly short quest (5-6 hours or so) wears on, the combat starts to drag. You’ll eventually figure out a tactic that works, and the game never really challenges that. Especially towards the end when enemy groups are pretty much all the same, and there’s no reason to use all the great costumes you unlock.

Costume Quest begins on the right foot, and for the vast majority of the time it’s a total joy to play. In the last hour or two the gameplay loses steam, but the story and charm never let up for a second. If the combat wasn’t such a chore later on, it’d be a perfect little game. As it is, we wouldn’t mind seeing an even better one next Halloween.


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Written by Joe D

Inspired by a love for obscure Sega Saturn games in the 90s, Joe is pretty much open to anything gaming has to offer. What he looks for in a game: creativity and strong design, or sometimes just an overwhelming sense of style.

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