Tim Schafer and his team at Double Fine, the group that brought us Brutal Legend, is straying from the classic rock motif for their upcoming Halloween-themed RPG, Costume Quest. A project conjured up during the development of Brutal Legend, Costume Quest brings us a unique title that from sweet visuals alone can give anyone a couple cavities (not to mention they're gorgeous). I spent some time collecting candy in a virtual neighborhood and can already tell you you’re in for a real treat.
On Halloween night, twin brother and sister Reynold and Wren are gearing up for epic candy collection, but not without having a few ground rules set by their parents. After reading a few dialogue bubbles (no voice overs) you’re prompted to choose which of the two bickering siblings will be in charge for the night. I chose the girl, Wren, though it seems choosing a specific sibling may affect how the story plays out. Dressed as a tiny, blue robot, Wren and Reynold, who is dressed like an adorable candy corn, set out for their Halloween adventure.
The two children make their way into the neighborhood, going door-to-door only to be greeted by a few cranky neighbors giving crummy treats (dietetic marzipan? Gross). In one unfortunate encounter, the children find a creature called a Grubbin, a green goblin who is caught stealing candy from a neighbor’s home. Thinking Reynold is a rare piece of candy, he snatches the child and runs past a gate that Wren can only pass once all of the neighborhood homes are cleared of treats. My goal to rescue Reynold requires that I knock on every door in the neighborhood and collect candy, all the while completing side missions for even more sweets and brand new costumes in order to progress.
I proceed through the neighborhood and knock on the doors of each residence hoping to find a generous neighbor with plenty of candy to spare. However, it’s never clear what you’ll find on the other side. It can either be a generous neighbor or a Grubbin creature who will engage you in battle.
Costume Quest is a family friendly role-playing game and features a turn-based battle system familiar to fans of the genre. When engaged in battle, your main character will turn into the super powered version of their costume, so in the case of Wren, a tiny cardboard robot will turn into a massive, missle-launching machine. Costumes can be switched on the field before engaging in a skirmish once you beef up your selection. As you collect the pieces for more costumes throughout the game and allies to join you in battle, you can engage foes as a giant, fire spewing Statue of Liberty, a sword and shield wielding knight, and more. You can select from basic attacks, defensive, and healing actions, each of which require quick time button presses for maximum effectiveness. In turn, enemy attacks prompt the player with quick time button presses to cut down damage dealt. After each battle, HP is refilled to start fresh with each new encounter, and if your entire party falls, you’ll just respawn in the exact same spot for a second chance – no game over. Battles give the victor extra candy and XP to level up.
Each homemade costume has its perks outside of battle as well. The robot costume is equipped with roller shoes to zip around the neighborhood, the knight costume protects your head from incoming projectiles or running water by hiding under a trash can lid, and the Statue of Liberty just looks awesome. I look forward to seeing what other costumes become available as the game progresses.
When not going door to door for your candy fix, you can loot trash cans, mailboxes, and other neighborhood objects with a swing of your candy bag for treats (the move is called “Pail Bash”). Collecting treats allows you to spend them on battle stamps for upgrades in HP, attack power, and defense. There are also side missions to complete such as finding specific materials in treasure coffins hidden around town for new costumes, playing hide-and-seek with neighborhood kids, helping a school principal find ingredients for a pie, bobbing for apples in a fun minigame, and more. These diversions are not only fun, but quickly fill your candy bag and expand your costume collection so they're worth exploring.
Costume Quest is oozing with the humor and charm expected from a Double Fine title and I can't wait to jump back in and finish my quest. The downloadable game will be available just before Halloween in time to get everyone in the spooky spirit when it releases on PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade on October 20.