Costume Quest

27 06 2012

Costume Quest is a great example of how middling games can be lifted by great writing. The premise, fighting off candy-nabbing aliens during Halloween, is wonderful, and the visuals have just the right amount of cutesy. With no recorded dialogue the superb script stands on it’s own merits, with no danger of it being spoiled by voice actors who don’t quite get the right tone. The quips rarely fall flat, and walking around the town hubs bothering NPCs is great fun, with each character having a joke or two.

But the more gamey bits are disappointing. Wearing different costumes to do different things is a wonderful idea, but focussing on the simplistic turn-based combat seems like a mistake. When they’re used in exploration you get a feel of what the game could have been. When early on you use a lightsaber to make your way through a dark corridor and a bin-lid shield to get closer to a tree occupied by an angry squirrel you can’t help but feel excited by the potential for exploring cordoned off areas with new costumes, but it just never happens. The further you get through the game, the more of a slog it becomes. By the end you rarely go 3 minutes without fighting some goblin or another, and the limited number of enemies only highlights this.  You start to view the fights as an annoying obstacle that needs to be passed before you get to the next joke, or new character.

It’s hard to dislike a game this charming, but it’s hard to love one that puts so little effort into keeping itself fresh throughout the ~5 hours it’ll take you to play through it. When the greatest feeling I have is one of wasted potential I can’t recommend paying the £11.50 asking price on Steam, but if (when) it’s put on sale, it’s worth checking out. The PC version comes with some free DLC, but I can’t quite bring myself to play that yet.