Costume Quest 2 is… I don’t know man. I honestly don’t know. His predecessor takes all the praise adjectives I had. I mean, like seriously. If Costume Quest was a delight, then this sequel could be named the “pantagruelian” experience. It is longer, a little better looking, funnier, and by all means: better.
Costume Quest 2
DoubleFine guys knew they had to raise the bar for Costume Quest 2, and they did just fine. Our twins brother and sister friends, Wren and Reynold, return to his suburbia neighborhood to Halloween when, after a short trick or treating, they found out that a dangerous plot is stirring. Dr. Orel White, the town´s dentist, is trying to destroy the Halloween Party by making an alliance with the Time Wizard (?) which whom he created the ‘Grubbins’, the malicious creatures that will give you battle. Battles you will incur by transforming in whatever costume you are wearing (minus the Candy Corn… that crap does nothing but throwing hilarious one-liners). The creative part in Costume Quest (the original and this sequel) are the costumes.
Through a time portal to the future, the siblings will find their two friends, Everett and Lucy, older, married, and with kids on their own, who will explain what’s happening, White now rules the world and is eliminating all the candy. That despot! On the back of their house, ‘Corvus’ a police bird of sorts will introduce us the combat techniques that are pretty much the same as the original game (and Mario RPG´s, and –why not- South Park: The Stick of Truth), you have up to three characters on a turn based battle, you use the ‘1’, ‘2’, and ‘3’ keys for each character correspondingly, the attack can increase his damage if you press the action key in the precise moment. The same is for the defense. You have special attacks also and of course, the chance to runaway (like a chicken… DOUBLEFINE WORDS).
After getting through a portal in the living room of the house, you travel to a New Orleanesque environment where you have to go on quests and sidequests to gather candy. The candy can be used to buy ‘Cards’ that work as modifiers inside the battle, by buffing stats or giving you an extra attack turn.
Visually, the game is practically identical to his predecessor. Some specifics had been improved, maybe some textures and background detail. I believe the idea wasn’t so much to make the evolution on that section. After all, the game focus is on humor and funny action sequences as much on the exploration. The RPG elements aren’t that well rounded. As you gain experience through the battles (sometimes annoying), the villains gain experience too, so it’s like no advantage really. Only longer battles because health meter increase. The enemies you defeat are no longer there to “re-battle”. Probably that’s why the game comes up somewhat short-length even when they wanted to make it larger. Between five or seven hours in a good run without searching all the costumes and collectibles. The duration can be a while longer if you scavenge the map for all the hidden stuff. Also, now, you don’t regain your health automatically after a battle. You need to find the water fountains for recover your party members. Don’t worry; there is one in every populated place.
Like the first installment, music is not excessively important but it plays his part with finesse. Every part of the map has a tune that changes harmonically when you pass from a section to another. Because of the orleanesque theme, you can expect jazzy tunes, fiddling, a little BeBop and something that can be described as close to creole music. I found myself remembering the transitions in ‘Grim Fandango’. The game does not impose itself. It lets you wonder around the map, managing yourself while the entire trick or treating and the discovering. Wren and Reynold, caricaturesque as they are, are wonderful characters, conceived as comic reliefs of a game that is all but that.
DoubleFine has his ups and downs. You might have read it on Guns and Pixels along these run we writers have had with the entire catalog. But, with no sense of bootlicking whatsoever, I can state that all their games are product of creativeness and a search of excellence and good taste. And laughter also. Costume Quest 2 is a sum of all that. A game doesn’t have to be long to be good. It doesn’t have to have the better graphics or a thirty musicians orchestra. It has to be fun. That’s all they ever need. Costume Quest 2 is a hell of a good fun. You’ll piss your pants only with the Candy Corn one-liners.
Believe me. This is not money thrown to the garbage.