Cute Games: Costume Quest

Happy Frankenstein Friday* and welcome to the Halloween Cute Games special I promised. Cute Games used to be filed under “Intermezzo” or at least titled with it, but as Costume Quest is a larger, non-browser game, it simply counts for “Otherworlds”.

And I finished it right in time for a review before the big night!

All pictures that are not marked “screenshot” come from the official site (make sure to watch the trailer!) and belong, together with the screenshots, to Double Fine Productions. Who’ve got a great logo, too (Siamese twins in Victorian bathing suits? Epic win.).

... which of course belongs to them, too.

The PC version that I played is rather new and was launched just two weeks ago while the console version has been out for a year now. I guess the basic game play and control are a little bit easier there, but maybe I’m just not used to games without mouse use. When I played it the second time – yes, I did, as I didn’t take any screenshots earlier – I had grown to it, but I had a severe case of optimising my computer before. If your PC isn’t the latest in technology or made for gaming, you could suffer from the same problems that I had: slowed down reactions (lethal in fights) and lagging.

Without giving away any spoilers, the plot is as follows:

You are the new kid in the neat little town of Auburn Pines, and it’s Halloween, the best day of the year. While being out trick-or-treating, your twin is being kidnapped – being mistaken for a giant candy due to their embarrassing candy corn costume – by a candy-stealing monster, and you’ll be grounded FOR EVER if you return home without them.
Gladly you’ve got some spirit and an awesome costume so you can head after those candy thieves! You way will not only take you to the Autumn Haven Mall and the rural surroundings of Fall Valley, but also let you achieve what your mother told you to do and make some friends (which are just as nerdy as you).

one of my favourite dialogues during the game
Wren without a costume

The twins are Wren, the Halloween-adoring first-born, and Reynold, the candy-loving younger. I myself chose Wren to be my hero, as her stubbornness and fierceness reminded me of myself, especially in 4th grade. You start out with a transformer-like robot costume and are able to collect up to ten more during the game, and nearly all of them bear some pop culture reference.

My favourite costume from the whole game is probably the Pumpkin King (actually it’s only “pumpkin”, but the player is strongly reminded of Jack’s first appearance in Nightmare Before Christmas) or Jack O’Lantern. He even does a little jig after you win a fight.

My second favourite was a surprise for myself: My Pretty Panacea. I’m not even a fan of the robot unicorn (if you don’t know it, google it. I dislike the music so much that I don’t want to link back to it) or My Little Pony (although I guess I’m somehow growing interested, at least in modding). But its attack animation and limit break are too awesome to ignore.

below: comparison: non-fight costumes (from left to right: Wren as Pumpkin, Everett as Knight, Lucy as My Pretty Panacea)

The fights are pretty much like every other J-RPG, except this one isn’t from Japan. Of course your enemies grow with you, but there’s nothing you can’t do with awesome costumes…

yes, your enemies explode into candy

While your heroes in this game are kids and it is quite kid-friendly, it’s definitely not a game for children. I mention this because these two things are often confused. Though you don’t really kill the monsters and there is no splatter involved, most of the pop cultural hints and the nerd humor are better and more appreciated as an adolescent or adult.

All in all, Costume Quest is an awesome game. A little short, maybe, but in return at least the PC version comes with an ad-on, Grubbins on Ice, that takes place some months after Halloween (reports on that before Christmas). I’ve got no stars or grades system (and I don’t want one), so I can only recommend it to you. Enjoy!

* recurring every last Friday before Halloween. For more information, look here.

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