Double Fine Productions has once again created a game that captures the essence of a certain childish wonder the studio has become famous for over the years. Following on from the likes Stacking, Broken Age and Psychonauts, Costume Quest 2’s giddy and excitable story is only matched by its clever use of humour throughout.
What is throughout quite a simple game allows the creators to explore and develop an impressive sense of comedy within its little world. Continuing on from the events of the original Costume Quest, the sequel takes place in an alternate version of things in which the children’s dentist, using magic, is trying to destroy Halloween and sugary sweets in one fell swoop.
If that sounds ridiculous, that’s because it is. Costume Quest 2 is unashamedly childish and all the better for it. Double Fine have done a great job of tapping into the mind, and imagination of children. I’m sure I’m not the only one who used to create hundreds of different stories each, casting myself as the hero in each one. They were wild, and shifting and whacky, and this sums up exactly what to expect in every part of Costume Quest 2. Even during the combat, where the characters costumes transform into the giant versions of whatever they represent as they battle it out above a small representation of the area they find themselves in; as if imagined up by children watching a little too much Power Rangers.
As the title might suggest, costumes are extremely important within the game, as they give each child a role in combat, and unique exploration abilities. Whereas the clown costume lets you honk a horn, a pterodactyl lets you create gusts of wind while you explore. These can be effortless changed outside of combat, which is useful as finding the right balance against the ghoulies you’ll be fighting is of the utmost importance. With different types of monster, from magic to technical, you’ll find a use for the different strengths of every costume.
A costume you’ll get right at the beginning of the game is perhaps the best example of the comedy found throughout the game. Dressing one of your party members as the Candy Corn removes all their abilities in combat, as they’ll be forced to skip every turn get. Instead of an action you’ll get a caption, from ‘Candy Corn fears no man’ to ‘Candy Corn weighs up its options’. What’s truly impressive with the Candy Corn captions and there irresistible charm is that over the course of the game, which includes several hours of gameplay, not a single caption was repeated.
This giddy humour reaches out and touches every part of the game, from your objectives (which includes playing the clown hour in a jazz club to earn $50) to the dialogue and other mechanics of the game. Dialogue is all done through writing on the screen, which is both a blessing and a curse. With no voice acting some jokes can fall by the wayside as you accidentally misread, or misinterpret the situation, while having the roles being read in your head allow you to twist the jokes yourself into something you’ll find even more amusing.
The combat, like the rest of the game is simple to the point of repetition which does damage the overall, heart-warming nature of the game. Essentially, combat boils down to a series of one or two button quick time events until the enemies explode in a puff of imagination. Its set up like an early turn based RPG where everyone waits their turn, but as each character has only one attack, tactics are reduced to nothing but mindlessly pushing the correct button at the correct time. Costume Quest 2 does also include a selection of cards that effect combat but add little other than the standard items you’d find in any other RPG. There is something comforting to the easiness of the game, and it was clearly created with a young audience in mind, but a little something extra could have help ward off a certain boredom that can creep in from extended play.
It doesn’t happen every time you play, but Costume Quest 2 is a game you’ll need to be in the right mood to enjoy. It feels like watching your favourite childhood film or television show (which is Lilo and Stitch obviously), in the right mood its delightful, colourful and easy, the perfect recipe for a lazy day. If you’re feeling restless, or unchallenged this is a title to avoid as its ease, and slow, smooth and methodic gameplay won’t scratch the itch you’ll need.
For those with a completionist streak in you, there’s a lot to do and redo in Costume Quest 2. With handfuls of quests in each location, hidden collectibles and areas only available to certain costumes, retreading your footsteps becomes another comforting but not overly exciting aspect of game as a whole.
The whimsy, nostalgic and imagination of Costume Quest 2 is enough to keep you coming back until you reach the satisfyingly childish conclusion. But be warned that what might at first feel easy, safe and little bit weird can makes way for feeling of boredom if you don’t have the patience, or lack thereof to tackle something some simple.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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