We may have missed out on Reynold and Wren’s first candy-ridden adventure, but Double Fine Productions have seen fit to treat us to Costume Quest 2 this year.
The siblings make a return after their sweet-infused antics in the original, no longer looking to save each other from unexpected captivity nor being bewildered by what awaits them in their latest adventure. When a Time Wizard allows Dr. Orel White to travel through spacetime, the sugar-detesting dentist returns to declare war on Halloween in Auburn Pines. He unleashes the Repugians on the streets, banning candy and fancy dress costumes in his pursuit of impeccable dental hygiene.
Escaping through a time hole to the future, Reynold and Wren equip themselves with new costumes in a dark era where the self-declared Overlord White rule with an iron toothbrush and patrolling Dental Drones. That impromptu visit is cut short, when the siblings are sent back to the past to secure a talisman from the bog witches before White seizes it for himself.
As an adventure role-playing game, Costume Quest 2 divides itself between explorative trick-or-treating and turn-based battles that will don’t stray far from what is expected of the genre. Your trick-or-treat sprees are, as can be expected, as simple as walking up to door and gently knocking on them, coming as part of the central quests that spur the game forward. Behind each you will either be greeted by an over-enthusiastic adult who will shower you with candy, or a more sinister foe wanting to stall you in your quest.
Battle scenarios will see your party transform into gargantuan representations of their costumes, whether that be a Clown, Pterodactyl, or prancing Unicorn – each with their own traits. With minuscule cityscapes as the backdrop these fights will see you attack and defend, as you raise your special ability meter to deal far greater damage. Slamming button prompts at the point of impact will reward you with extra damage or partly negate that suffered, while under the instruction of ninja bird Corvus in the future you will learn new combat techniques that will allow you to perform follow-up attacks and more.
Collectible Creepy Treat Cards will extend your strategy further, either purchased from Shady’s Secret Shop, won in combat or discovered lying in treasure chests. Their effects vary, certain cards allowing you to strike for more damage, prevent enemies from using magic, or attack every enemy at once. These can turn the tide in your favour and save you from imminent defeat.
Sadly despite all of its charm, Costume Quest 2 encounters blunders. Whether that be the inconsistent frame rate or lack of direction toward your current quest objective, these detract from the experience. Players will have a Notebook at their disposal that lists your tasks, but without any map or marker you may often find yourself meandering around before stumbling on something – that’s even more of a worry for the younger crowd that may quickly lose interest.
In similar regard the Wii U GamePad is completely overlooked, merely being used to display otherwise characterful artwork. Off-TV Play is apparently incoming with a patch, but a month on and we still haven’t heard anything more about it.
Costume Quest 2 still remains remarkably unique, and effortlessly charming through the seasonal celebration that it is inspired by. A wondrously wicked script and characterful design let it become a memorable adventure, and the experience is certainly more treat than trick.