Costume Quest 2 review: a Halloween treat

Costume Quest 2 delivers more of the sweet RPG mechanics and smile-inducing humor from the 2011 sequel. Our review.

5

Trick-or-treating is one of the most beloved of Halloween traditions. Even though it's essentially the same activity every year, it's still as memorable as it ever was and leads to some new stories to tell. There's a similar line of thinking in Costume Quest 2, Double Fine's sequel to the 2011 original. At the end of the day, it very much feels like more of the original game, but more sweetness is hardly a bad thing.

The story sees the very holiday of Halloween in peril. A demented dentist known as Orel White has created a pact with a time wizard to recruit the monstrous Grubbins to grab a sacred talisman and put an end to the yearly ritual of Halloween.

Players will control both Wren and Reynold this time around, with the opening minutes cheekily allowing players to pick their lead character. The dialogue and the cute expressions on the children's faces set the tone early, showing that this game will feature more of the off-the-wall humor of its predecessor.

Costume Quest 2 features more of the turn-based battles of the original game, with each character transforming into the costume that they're wearing. Costumes are not only strewn about the game's world, but they're required to proceed, so there's ample variety to be found in the combat. Timed hits make their return here and evolve over the course of the game. Hitting buttons at the right time can not only cause more damage, but can also lead into two-hit combos or even counter enemy moves. The combat is easy to grasp, but the timing may be a little slippery, especially if there's any sort of input lag in place. Fortunately, the battles aren't so difficult that they make too much of a difference.

Part of the easy difficulty is because of one of CQ2's new additions: the Creepier Treat Cards. These are collectible cards that can be used over the course of battle, each with various effects. Some can be used to boost individual characters, while others can be used for post-battle rewards or to weaken foes. There are enough cards to fill an album and micromanaging them, though time-consuming, adds a surprising amount of depth to the game's combat system.

Exploration is as pivotal a part of CQ2 as its combat and this is where the game proves slightly limited. Moving forward requires playing around with many of the costumes' field abilities, some of which aren't always so obvious and can be frustrating to figure out. Even with many different abilities to use, though, there's still a sense that exploring can feel somewhat monotonous. That especially feels like the case once areas settle in to the pattern of trick-or-treating, battling, and repeating. It's a pattern you'll bump into quite often across the game's three time periods and one that drags after a while, especially since each battle often requires you to backtrack to a nearby fountain to refresh.

However, the slog is well worth it to see more of the game's characters. There's genuine heart and humor written into each of CQ2's characters, from the main characters right down to the low-level Grubbin. Playing around with the costume powers also puts more of the game's humor on display. For example, the Jefferson costume offers the power of diplomacy, leading to some grin-inducing conversations with disgruntled Grubbins that just want to take a break or sneak in some candy. There are plenty of laughs to be found in Costume Quest 2, with a narrative that's as joyful as a children's book with an art style to match.

Costume Quest 2 fits in wonderfully as a Halloween tale, but its RPG mechanics and whimsical quests fit in just as well at all times of the year. It's charming and sweet enough to induce cavities, which really should be what Halloween is all about.


This review is based on a Steam code provided by the publisher. Costume Quest 2 is available now on PC for $14.99. It is also coming soon to Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Wii U, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 as a downloadable title. The game is rated E10+.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

Review for
Costume Quest 2
8
Pros
  • Solid, easy-to-understand RPG mechanics
  • Hilarious dialogue
  • Surprisingly deep combat system
Cons
  • Exploration can get repetitive
  • Environments sometimes feel cramped
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