Costume Quest 2 jumps right in from where the first game left off; fraternal twins Reynold and Wren arrive via spooky portals back into what appears to be their own time and all seems well.
Without spoiling too much, for any cartoon buffs out there, this game really feels like playing a Halloween episode of Kids Next Door. The premise is that a dentist gets an idol from a time wizard (yes, really) to try to turn the world into a dental utopia in which no candy or trick-or-treating is allowed. Again, sounds like Kids Next Door, right? Remembering how absurdly awesome that cartoon was – in that they got GWAR to play a backtrack to a fight between a giant food monster and a hamster in a wrestling outfit – the outlandish premise works highly in the favour of Costume Quest 2.
The game’s art style really does present a quirky charm to it. It’s stylized to the point that I was unsure whether or not I was watching a full blown cartoon or actually playing a game. Some of the adults and enemies in particular have some unique design aspects that border on being both clever and a little disconcerting. Said style is also utilised in the turn-based combat when the costumes suddenly transform both the kids and the enemies. Things that were cute can end up looking wicked and horrifying in all of the best ways. Overall, this CQ2’s art style is eye candy and an excellent excuse for me to make Halloween puns.
The humour is both child-like and incredibly sardonic, enough that any age group could play and find themselves snickering on occasion. While there are some pop culture references and in-jokes here and there, they never distract from the game itself. The title thankfully never takes itself too seriously, making that outlandish romping feel exceptionally fun.
However, there is also the important matter of the combat. This is a role-playing game with a feel to it much like Paper Mario and other turn-based RPGs. As a fan of most games in this style, I found myself getting lost in simply keeping my team alive and timing attacks correctly, so the combat never got too particularly stale for me. With that in mind, I can see how it might for others who are not such big fans of this particular combat mechanic. Coupled with the use of quicktime events to block or execute attacks, this type of gameplay can get repetitive and tedious. However, drawing back to my love of Paper Mario, I personally got sucked in pretty quickly. Indeed, my only real gripe is that the intro to the costume change in each battle loses its novelty fairly quickly.
With all that in mind, the game does control very well. Movement, combat and general input is received precisely. The quicktime reactions take a bit of getting used to, but it becomes second nature with practice. Landing hits is just as satisfying. The motion control is actually quite smooth and never feels like either trying to slog through mud or skating on ice – a mistake that many similar games make. Players have their choice of up to two additional kids besides Wren and Reynold, and all of them have their own unique controls, attacks and costume powers. The costume swapping feature is something that really helps keep things fun and fresh; Candy Corn was getting tired, anyway.
Costumes are easily the most integral portion of the game. You can collect pieces to make new ones, win them in quests and find them throughout the game. Each one transforms the player into a carbon copy of the costume, with powers included. For example: You have a cape? Congratulations, you can fly and throw cars!
The game takes a very humorous liberty in what it can get away with with regards to these costumes and the particular attacks, puns and humor they deliver with them. The combat is also interestingly implemented around the costumes and their unique and, sometimes unexpected, powers. I personally wouldn’t have thought a clown would be ever be healing me, but such is life. Throughout the game, the player is able to form strategies against enemies, which continue to grow in difficulty. Experimenting and taking the time to make and create your own costumes is highly recommended.
Overall, Costume Quest 2 plays like a good sequel should. It keeps the formula from the original game; exemplifying the good and adding in more fun for new players. The intro is a dead jump-in, but the game doesn’t need a lot of explanation nor does it bog down the intro and limit players by trying to shove exposition down our throats. It unfolds both the original story and the new one in a spaced out narrative often revealed in humorous manners. It does a fantastic job in letting players feel like they have time to explore – but also invokes a sense of urgency in saving the world from a dystopian future with no candy and the presence of giant, ninja ravens.
This game is charming and I found myself immersed very easily, with only a groan here and there at having to fight another enemy right after the other. Even with that said, the game never gets too stale and I have found myself really wanting to come back and play more, so it could be said that it has succeeded in doing what a good RPG should: sucking players into the story.
Candy Corn now regrets no longer having any Halloween candy.