Costume Quest 2 is, for those not astute enough to ponder at the “2” at the end of the name, is the sequel to the 2010 indie hit, Costume Quest. Halloween is in danger, so I put on my favourite costume and go trick or treating to find some candy in this game.
Costume Quest 2 picks up where the DLC story of Costume Quest left off. Those of you who never played the first game will understandably be a little confused initially, but it’s fairly safe to say that the first game’s story almost never features beyond the opening sequence. In the game, twins Wren and Reynold return home after their adventures and discover that their dentist, Dr White DDS (he hates it when you leave the DDS bit out) is up to some shady activity, all the while scowling about Halloween like some candy-hating Grinch. He uses a time portal to go back in time to wreck Halloween, and it’s up the twins to fix things.
In the game, you collect candy (the game’s currency), costumes (which confers powers), and cards (used in battle). Candy is plentiful, and at no point will you feel the need to scramble around looking for more. It’s a little like the Lego games in that respect. You can go around hitting things, and candy will pop out. Costumes have to be painstakingly collected, though, and you’ll find the game treats costumes the same way that the Legend of Zelda treats weapons and items: as a way to progress through the game. You start out with a superhero costume and a candy corn costume, but this soon expands to include clowns, Cleopatra, Jefferson, and more. The costumes have abilities outside of battle, too. For example, the clown costume has a gag horn that you can honk, while the Jefferson costume allows you to talk to others in a diplomatic way.
An essential part of Halloween is trick or treating, and this happens in the game, too: you get tasked with obtaining candy from various houses in the game’s regions. The trick here is that some of the houses contain bad guys, and there’s no real way to tell which contains which, so there’s a chance of battle every time you knock on a door.
Battles are—as per RPG standard—turn-based with some QTE activity built in for landing extra damage or for defending against attacks. Each child in your party becomes the character of the costume that they’re wearing. This is where my biggest gripe with the game comes in. Battles seem jerky and framerate-breaking, and getting the button presses right during the QTEs is a frustrating endeavor. This doesn’t mean that battles are overly difficult, though. On the contrary, they’re fairly easy to beat, and even something like health is not an issue, since you can simply spend a few bits of candy to set your characters as good as new again. During battles, you can use collectible cards to make your life a little easier. Their effects vary from getting more candy at the end of battle, to double damage, to healing your characters. Cards have limited use, but I barely used them.
In all, the game will take around 6 hours to complete, so it’s not a long affair, but it’s still a lot of fun. Getting all the secrets doesn’t take much more than a little exploring, and the game’s environments are fairly straightforward. Some reviewers have complained about the game’s map, but honestly, if you’re getting lost in this game, there are far more fundamental problems with your sense of direction. To be fair, though, the map is a little simplistic, and doesn’t show where you are (not that you need to know).
On the Wii U, the Gamepad screen isn’t used, so the game gets docked points for a basic Wii U right: off-screen play. This ties into an issue related to the cards: the text explaining the card’s effect is so tiny that I had to get up and move toward the screen every time I wanted to see more. This could have been solved with the use of the Gamepad. From what I can tell, Costume Quest 2 is the most basic of ports; the dev team haven’t bothered taking advantage of the Wii U’s abilities. For instance, Gamepad battles could have been done with touch, but given the jerkiness of action sequences, it’s also clear that the game hasn’t even been optimized for the console.
Costume Quest 2 for Wii U is still a fun game, though, despite the troubles I had. It’s to the point, the story is fun, and it kept me engaged for the entire time I was playing it. Replay value is low if you got everything the first time around, and this particular version is doubly so considering the Nintendo Network’s lack of anything like trophies or achievements, more’s the pity. Still, if you’ve no other console to play it on, it’s still a good, fun Halloween-themed game.
Final Score: 7 spooky prawns out of 10
Developer: Double Fine Productions
Publisher: Midnight City
Platform: Nintendo Wii U (also available on Steam, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One)
Age Rating: 10+