Burned by the saleability of their retail releases, Double Fine's unique, quirky concepts feel right at home on the PlayStation Store. If Costume Quest is an experiment, then it definitely seems to have paid off. Double Fine's games will certainly meet much greater success on the PSN, thanks in part to smaller budgets and lower retail prices.
Costume Quest tells the story of two children trick-or-treating on Hallowe'en night. Reynold and Wren get caught up in the mysterious plot of a witch who is using an army of monsters to steal candy. The plot's whimsical, comical and cute; seeing one of the pair (the one you don't play as) whipped away by the monsters. The game opens out into a very basic RPG, in which the random battles are defined by the houses trick-or-treated. If a monster lurks behind the door, a traditional turn-based RPG battle will initiate. Battle types are defined by the costumes the characters wear — the twist being that when in battle, the cardboard costumes turn into 50 foot representations of the characters they represent. So the robot costume turns into a giant gundam, and statue of liberty costume... Well, guess the rest.
Costume Quest's main campaign takes about five hours to complete.
Costume Quest is the kind of game you can just sit and play. There's no edge. No complicated plot. No difficult to master game mechanics. It's just easy-going, good fun. And that's refreshing. The game sets you on very simple quests, and asks you to master an extremely basic turn-based RPG battle system. It's easy-going, pleasant and polite. It never demands too much and allows you to focus on actually enjoying the game's world.
Costume Quest looks great. It's very Double Fine; characters have bizarre proportions, and the colour palette is stark and almost like a Saturday morning cartoon. The whole affair is accentuated by the cute little speech bubbles which carry the game's dialogue.
Despite having no voice acting, Costume Quest gets its humour and timing just right. The spacing of the speech bubbles which convey dialogue is spot-on, and the dialogue is well written and interesting.
There are three environments in Costume Quest, and each one carries the same quest structure. There are kids playing hide and seek to find, an apple-bobbing mini-game and trading cards to, erm, trade. It would be fine, but there are so few quests in Costume Quest in the first-place, it's a shame they are not all original.
While not a huge problem due to small environments, Costume Quest's lack of a mini-map can make it harder to find some elements of the game's three levels than it should be.
Costume Quest is not challenging nor difficult. It is not innovative nor particularly original. It's just a good, fun, whimsical experience. Sometimes games don't need to be anything more.