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Games with James: A Halloween Treat

Halloween is characterized by wonders, free candy, and costumes. The game Costume Quest showcases this side of Halloween, allowing players to relive the joys associated with being a child on that sacred night.

This review will use the standard set in the last article, with the acronym SGMG: “Some Guys Make Gangs.” For those who don’t remember what that means, it actually stands for Story, Gameplay, Music, and Graphics. 

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Story: The story of Costume Quest follows the tale of either Wren or Reynold’s (depending on the player’s choice) escapades on Halloween night. Wren and Reynold are twins who have just moved into a new town, and they’re sent out to make new friends and trick or treat. The pair visits a few houses before one of the twins is kidnapped by a “Grubbin,” a goblin-like creature from another world. The resulting main story revolves around the player fighting to get back their twin. It is revealed during the course of this story that a woman named Dorsilla is attempting to steal all the candy from the surrounding area, so that she may take over a dimension named “Repugia”—the place where “Grubbins” and other monsters come from. Along the way to find the player’s twin, players collect unique costumes, make friends, and explore the surrounding area. The storyline is linear, meaning there is not much deviation from the standard route. Despite this, the story does not feel constricting since the player is able to take it at their own pace. The simplicity of the story feeds into the simplistic child-like style that the game has.

Verdict: The storyline is fairly good, with the child-like simplicity of it probably being my favorite part. I also enjoyed learning the details of the town’s residents and locations, with there being some funny dialogue in some places. This game has a great personality, and I appreciated the style of the story, the themes, and locations. This section gets a 4.5/5.

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Gameplay: Costume Quest has the gameplay of a standard turn-based RPG, with slight collect-a-thon elements thrown in. The keyboard controls can feel quite slippery and are quite difficult to handle. However, when using a controller, these issues are reduced and the control feels fluid and responsive. This may come down to personal preference though. The combat is pretty standard to say the least. Players have two basic options to work with: basic attack (with each costume having its own basic attack type), and special moves (which has different effects depending on which is unique for each costume). Furthermore, around the game map players have the opportunity to discover specific costume pieces for the schematics given to you. Some costumes even have the special ability to allow you to bypass terrain obstacles in the world. Further collect-a-thon elements are mostly found within the cards, the stamps, and the candy. The cards have little purpose from what I can tell, other than being collectable. Each stamp has a buff for your character, but you can only apply one stamp per character and cannot reuse any. Some take the form of an extra attack type, as mentioned previously, extra health, extra damage, or even health regen. The candy in this game serves as a currency, and you can spend candy to buy stamps. It isn’t required to collect all of these, but the stamps make the game easier. Other than what I have mentioned, the RPG mechanics are basic, with a level system that really only increases health and damage, and there is no need to keep track of health between battles, as your health is automatically reset after a battle. This would make for a good first RPG for some as it is very simple.

Verdict: I enjoy RPGs, especially turn-based ones. This game may be very basic in its use of those mechanics, but it does them well enough for me not to complain about it. This game is fairly average when it comes down to the gameplay, especially the combat. The collectathon styled gameplay was more fun, as it was exciting attempting to find all the items hidden about the map, while collecting the cards and stamps. However, I will admit that I am not a fan of the keyboard controls. I had to use a controller while playing this game, but perhaps if I tried it again I might like it. This section gets a 3.5/5.

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Music: There are surprisingly few songs on the soundtrack, with the grand total being 8 songs (from what I can find). However, to make up for the lack of sheer numbers, each song is of a much higher quality. Each song fits the style of game, and has the Halloween spirit behind it. The style of the soundtrack is orchestral, with a mass of strings, brass, and woodwinds, with the occasional percussion instrument chiming in.

Verdict: This soundtrack certainly prioritizes quality over quantity, and I  liked all of the tracks in their own ways. I was surprised at the sophistication of the music, as I was expecting a more childish, cartoon-like style. I liked the soundtrack more than I expected. I give this a 4/5. 

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Graphics: The graphics of Costume Quest slightly differ by style depending on what players focus on. The character models have a unique style that evokes the child-like wonder of the story. I love how they are stylized—the cartoonish theme makes them look more memorable, and the costumes’ appearance in this style spark joy within me. The overworld textures are more detailed than the character appearance, but stick to the cartoon style. The object textures stand out, allowing them to be seen much easier even in darker areas. Lastly, the battle graphics, the transformation of the costume looks amazing, and allows the character to feel as if they are the costume, rather than some child masquerading as it. The enemy designs are also quite superb as they retain the childlike quality everything else has, but still manage to be monstrous in cases.

Verdict: I am a big fan of the graphical style shown in this game, especially the player models—those are what make the game unique. I am sure if this game had a different style I would have enjoyed it much less than I did. In most cases, I don’t particularly care for or pay attention to the graphics of a game, but for this game, I adore the stylistic choices taken for the graphics. I give this section a 5/5.

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Final Verdict: Costume Quest is an unexpected 17/20.

This game was a joy from start to finish. While I may not play it again in the near future, it definitely makes for a great Halloween game, and is very easy to get into. The game is relatively easy, as there are not many complicated mechanics to get used to (especially pertaining to combat). The story is simple enough to understand while half-asleep, so it is definitely my style of game.

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