Costume Quest 2 is the latest game from lauded developer Double Fine, and is actually the firm’s first full-blown sequel to boot. The title depicts the continuing adventures of twins Reynold and Wren, as they combat a time travelling delinquent dentist determined to destroy Hallowe’en and its teeth-decaying deeds. Much like the first in the series, this adopts a turn-based role-playing game format, with some exploratory elements thrown in for good measure. Oh, and it’s got charm coming out of its ears.
From a gameplay perspective, this sugary sequel doesn’t exactly do a whole lot differently. Combat encounters occur when enemies walking around the environment spot and initiate a battle with you. From here, the three members of your costumed crew – Reynold and Wren will be accompanied by a friend throughout most of the game – will prepare to fight. This sees the kids’ outfits transform into large-scale, more realistic interpretations of themselves, and you duke it out with your foes in rotation.
The hook is that each costume has a different special. Some of these heal while others dole out damage, but they all succeed at capturing a playful level of craziness that supports the whimsical source material. How many other games have you played where Ben Franklin hurriedly scribbles out the Declaration of Independence and throws it at his enemies like a bomb? At one point, you’ll even find yourself having a musical throw down with a fiddle playing infant in a devil’s costume – and it’s moments like these that really set the title apart, rather than the familiar gameplay mechanics.
These sequences are especially special due to the art style, which is colourful and playful in a cartoony kind of way. The game has a real childlike appeal to it, but it never strays too far that adults will be deterred. As far as we’re concerned, the title’s game world is the finest example of a dentistry-based police state that you’re ever likely to see – even if there is a bit of time travel tossed in to keep things varied and interesting.
As mentioned, this isn’t all child-like goofiness, though, as we’re pretty sure that we encountered someone on a less than legal substance during the game – and, honestly, some of the costumes are downright frightening. For example, there’s a wizard boss early on that looks genuinely menacing, and the clown outfit that one member of your party can wear is, well, not exactly friendly.
It’s mostly good clean fun, though, and there’s not really a whole lot to criticise about the experience. It’s certainly shallow in a way that most modern RPGs aren’t, and, subsequently, there aren’t too many tactics that you can use in battle – but there’s a weird kind of comfort in the rudimentary nature of it all. It’s also relatively short, which some may consider to be a negative, but we found it to be a satisfying length for what the gameplay entails, ensuring that it never really outstays its welcome.
Costume Quest 2 is a pretty bog standard RPG, but it’s outfitted with charm by the bucket load, and that’s its real appeal. Sure, the gameplay doesn’t exactly elevate a well-established genre, but it’s strong enough to suck you into the game’s light, carefree fiction, and that happens to be enough. In a world where games are getting darker and darker, this is like a welcome breath of fresh air, and, if nothing else, it’s nice to feel like a kid again – even if the experience won’t necessarily last that long.