It’s been many years since I sat down and had a bloody good time with Costume Quest. This charming, weird game was something of a mystery to me, with the only things being heard about the game being good words by Giant Bomb and other outlets on it’s great theme. So, 6 lovely hours later after completing the main campaign, I came away impressed, and excited for a sequel (should one ever be made).
Alas, not all wishes should come true, and I for one am sad that I just sat through a sequel which has tarnished my memories of a truly great and charming game.
Not that Costume Quest 2 starts off bad; if anything it starts off no different to Costume Quest 1, and in fact is a direct sequel, with the whacky group you controlled in the first place finding themselves between worlds, trying to find their way home. Starting the game proper, you find yourselves in your old town, but with the main antagonist of the game scheming as always. Upon Mr Orel White coming back from a portal, you notice he has a talisman, one which opens portals to the demon realm, and which allows you to control all manner of creatures that come out.
Wanting to stop Dr White before this all happens, your group proceeds to travel back in time, but not before two of them stay behind to help you out from across time. In this starting area, you encounter a new random child, that proceeds to be your third party member (for no other reason than you asked him where something was). using these three characters, you then proceed to battle bad time people int he same manner of the previous game: by transforming into your costumes.
This was already where one of my first issues arose: unlike Costume Quest 1, which had great costumes/transformations, costume quest 2 seems to have given up on truly original and innovative transformations. You start off with a Candy corn and superhero, both of which look bland and normal, with the rest of the costumes gained throughout the game being no more inventive or creative as the first. It’s a shame, as getting new costumes was easily one of my favourite things of the first game – not only seeing how awesome the costume looked in fights, but also the awesome moves and special attacks that I’d get to see unfold as fights proceeded.
Whilst the fights themselves are as easy and as serviceable as the first, you can’t say the team have rested on their laurels. Your characters are now able to double attack, parry and defend (if I recall correctly, you could only do the latter in the first game), meaning each fight requires your full attention to everything happening on screen, as well as ensuring you have some timing skills.
The fights also (maybe I’m mis-remembering once again) introduce a new stat in play – stat boosts and detriments based on the costumes you choose, and the enemies you’re attacking. This can come with some pros in that you deal a lot more damage to some enemies, but definitely some cons also – especially when there’s no discernible way to tell enemy types apart other than actually attacking them. Even when you do learn the different enemies, there’s no guarantee that the costumes you pick beforehand will be in anyway effective for them, since each enemy encounter is random. It’s irritating that whilst the developers have tried to add more depth to the combat, they’ve simultaneously taken way the ability to choose your moves/specials, which in doing so left you feeling frustrated that you can’t prepare effectively.
What I’ve said so far may not sound great, but also may not sound bad either, I cannot for the life of me forgive the lack of coherent story, and shitty characters Costume Quest 2 manages to create. The first Costume quest was a barrel of laughs, with kids taking on adults and monsters as equals, with a lot of funny text and situations making for an extremely entertaining time. Costume Quest 2 tries to start off this way, but soon trips over when you find there’s no story telling for hours on end, with much of the game being endless candy hunting and random battles. What little narrative there is isn’t funny, and even exists to justify (badly I might add) why you’re going to a new locale.
I think that’s what irritates me most about Costume Quest 2: the story does not do a good enough job of being light-hearted or even justifying why a specific location looks the way it does. Take for example the future, where Dr Orel White manages to take over the world – children are banned from eating sweets or trick-or-treeting – a terrible fate for all involved. But for some reason, Dr Orel White appears to be a genius that is able to create robotics and hovering cars – something which has no bearing what-so-ever on the fact he took a talisman which enabled demons to come through.
I could go into detail about why each of the characters are also annoying, with the third party member disappearing every 2 minutes to be replaced by another, but doing so would make me even more annoyed, due to it’s wasted opportunity to flesh out the world and the characters within. Or even the fact that the end scene has no way out other than to quit the game. It’s insane.
It’s just a shame that Costume Quest 2 exists at all. It appears as though it may have been a cash-grab, one that ran out of money before it was forced out, causing a random story and not great gameplay mechanics. As someone that loved the original, and couldn’t wake for a sequel, I’m hugely disappointed I saw this game through to the end and feel like I’ve waster 7 hours of my life. Don’t wish for sequels, you’ll almost always get hurt.