Halloween may have been and gone in reality, however the Halloween spirit lives on in the form of “Costume Quest 2” from developers Double Fine. Being the sequel to the well received original Costume Quest, it has some rather big shoes to fill. Will it trick us with a follow-up as rotten as an out of date Milky Way or can this be a wonderful treat to help your sweet tooth?
The twins have returned; Wren and Reynold are seemingly about to enjoy a new Halloween free of monsters and shenanigans. That is until evil Dr. Orel White D.D.S. decides to take drastic actions to prevent kids from going to the dentist with bad teeth. With a little help, he manages to use a time warp to his advantage, culminating in the whole concept of Halloween (the costumes and eating candy) becoming illegal. It’s time for the kids to have another adventure, a quest to take down the crazy dental fanatic and save Halloween.
It’s worth pointing out that the story will unravel without any voice-overs, just pure text and animation. That’s why I commend the storytelling here because the interactions with the main NPCs can still convey what often turns into a comedic, light hearted tale. If you have played the original then I’d say you’re in for an even better fun filled quest than before, especially with the introduction of more enemy variations and a great villainous dentist.
A game cannot be successful based on just a rather decent story alone though, it needs to play well too. With this being a role-playing game, you’ll be set numerous quests to complete on your journey to the big finale. Most of these involve the twins (and maybe a friend) exploring areas to find missing costume pieces and trick or treating any homes you come across. It also seems like there’s more costume specific tasks to complete too and this makes the player put a little thought into which one could be the key to progressing.
One of the small annoyances I had in the original Costume Quest was the amount of time it took to get around. Luckily all the costumes have optional speed boosts to make travelling from point to point much easier and it’s all at the press of a single button. Most of the costumes the kids wear also come with an extra ability during exploration, and as mentioned above you may need to use them for a task or to enter secret areas.
Then we have the battles that may occur via random encounters, at trick or treat houses or at set locations where a mini-boss/boss will be. These are turn-based battles where each team will take it in turns to attack, with each member of the teams having an attack of their own. For the most part you’ll only have one attack move to use, with different costumes having different basic attacks and specials to add the variation. Timing is very important in the battle quick time events for maximising the damage output and also countering/blocking to prevent too much health being lost. It becomes rather easy to get “amazing” timing after it initially felt a little tough to get it bang on.
The special meters will build up after successful attacks and even when the character in question gets damaged. Nearly all 12 costumes have a rather cool special move than can range from resurrection (Pharoah costume) to assorted condiments being involved with a hotdog for a wider spread of damage (Hotdog costume). What is a cool feature here is the strength and weakness of each costume is show in encounters all the time on the HUD, so there’s no need to remember whether you’re more power against Monsters or if they are in fact your kryptonite.
Candy is your currency whether you’re in Repugia, Auburn Pines or the Dental Compound and the man in the creepy looking trench coat is always looking to offload various items. Shady, the merchant, will offer you many sweet items that can help with finding everything in an area and he has many battle orientated treats. The majority of these, Creepy Treats, are cards that can be equipped and subsequently used during combat when the chips are down and a helping hand is needed.
Sadly most of the 45 Creepy Treat cards are only useful for oppressing minions and won’t work when you really need them in the toughest of fights. As they are limited to only three uses too, you can end up saving them for emergencies and so they weren’t overly helpful to me.
There’s a whole load of minor improvements in Costume Quest 2 that make the adventure more fun than before. However I’m not convinced that the battles have enough variety and they could maybe do with another move per costume to add a layer of freshness, as there’s only so many times I can watch the overweight clown bounce on his enemies before it becomes stale. My last bit of praise to Double Fine is for making a completely useless costume that in some ways becomes rather useful. I won’t spoil which one but it’s clever how they’ve done it.
If you’re after more of the same then you’ll not be disappointed. It’s a real treat.