By: Ted Chow
With Halloween approaching you always get an influx of chilling, horror-inspired games to capitalize on the holiday. Costume Quest 2 is one such game that rightfully plays at the spirit of Halloween with all the trick-or-treating, candy corn and spooky hijinks. If you enjoy seasonal games and would rather stay indoors playing video games than actually dressing up and knocking on doors for free candy, then Costume Quest 2 might satisfy you. I’d personally prefer the candy, but I guess you can always cheat and go buy candy and play this game.
If you are used to isometric RPGs, then the controls for Costume Quest 2 will feel very similar. Movement is achieved through the WASD standard with E for interacting with the environment and Space for dialogue skipping and accepting commands. Your main inventory and quest interface can be accessed with J, while Tab brings up a radial dial to quickly switch costumes for your characters. There is no option to change any of the keys, but an alternative option to play with a controller is available if you prefer a different setup.
The graphics for Costume Quest 2 are a mixture of 3D environments and cel-shaded characters to mimic something you would see in a cartoon or comic book. While playful and fitting for a game designed for all ages, some textures felt too simplistic or lacking in detail. The minimalistic character designs are whimsical, yet a bit rough around the edges. Luckily the game has a graphics setting to add anti-aliasing and other graphical enhancements to optimize the game as you see fit.
The soundtrack, however, felt a bit uninspired with generic Halloween-themed songs and the same reused battle tracks throughout the entirety of your adventure.
If you played the original Costume Quest, then Costume Quest 2 will be familiar with the returning cast of Reynold and Wren as they embark on another adventure. This time the main antagonist, Dr. Orel White, is attempting to steal Halloween — just like how the Grinch stole Christmas. The story is pretty self-explanatory and doesn’t offer too many intricacies to confuse or incite any real emotion from the player. However, if you just look at the game as a silly adventure with an eccentric cast, then the experience becomes more palatable.
The gameplay revolves around you progressing through different timelines as both main characters with the occasional third character rounding out your party. Costume Quest 2 plays like an isometric RPG for those that are unfamiliar with the original game and relies heavily on exploration and battling.
You’ll move around the world collecting candy corn, battle cards and completing a variety of quests to gain XP and new costumes. Afterwards you’ll be visiting the shop to spend your candy corn currency on costume upgrades and other helpful items to power up your characters.
The game’s three-on-three battles take place on a grid where your characters take their turn followed by the enemy. There is no real complexity in the lineup order as stats such as agility don’t exist. As a matter of fact, the overall combat is very formulaic with the only commands available being attack, special attack and/or use battle cards to apply debuffs to the enemy.
After your first few battles the combat will feel monotonous and becomes more of a chore and an artificial time sink to extend the game’s length. Taken as a whole, the combat felt sluggish with no way to speed up the animation sequences.
The saving grace of the game is definitely the costumes that you find along your journey. Each one provides new special attacks during combat and has additional uses that affect the environment — for example, it might help remove stacks of leaves, negotiate with NPCs or turn invisible. Costumes can also be upgraded for a new look in battle as well as an increase in stats and strategies.
Coming in at around six hours from start to completion, Costume Quest 2 is shorter than you might expect. Much of that time will be spent wandering around, completing quests and engaging enemies within the battle mode. The quest themselves are rather repetitive and limited to finding kids playing hide-and-seek, FedEx quests and many variants of fetching.
Enemies you fight and some of the environment settings also seem to be recycled from the first game and cheapen the overall experience. And with the exclusion of multiplayer and worthwhile achievements, Costume Quest 2 becomes a game you play for the novelty and eventually shelve.
Costume Quest 2 is a good addition to those that enjoyed the original game, but it’s limited in its full potential as a real sequel. The game ultimately feels like an expansion with, more or less, the same aspects carried over from the first. This by itself isn’t necessary a detriment as the game is solid and has its charm. However, unlike other games within its genre, Costume Quest 2 struggled to keep me engaged with boring combat and overly flat characters and story.