Costume Quest preview

  • by Dave Rudden
  • August 26, 2010 18:00 PM PT

The developers of cult gaming hits Psychonauts and Brutal Legend are taking their talents to the downloadable space. Costume Quest is the company's first title to hit Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network, and GamePro got to see the game in action for the first time this week.

What we're talking about: Costume Quest, a Halloween-themed RPG and the first downloadable console game from Double Fine (the developers of Psychonauts and Brutal Legend) under their new partnership with THQ.

Where we saw it: Double Fine founder Tim Schafer and Costume Quest lead Tasha Harris brought the game to the GamePro office and played through the first half-hour of the quest.

What you need to know:

  • The game takes place on Halloween night, with the player taking control of one of two 10-year old twins -- Wren or her brother Reynold. The sibling you don't choose will be in tow of the dominant child.

  • Most of the interaction the twins have with others on All Hallows Eve is through the holiday's tried and true tradition of trick or treating. By knocking on neighbors' doors you'll either receive a treat from a human (which serve as the game's currency) or have to do battle with a monster (the folks at Double Fine have a pretty twisted interpretation of the word "trick").

  • Beyond trick or treating, the kids will be able to interact with the environment in a variety of other ways. Swinging the child's candy pail can break some barriers or knock treats free from certain places (like garbage bags). Hitting an NPC with a pail will elicit an angry reply, and as any fan of the developer can tell you, getting more Double Fine dialogue is one of gaming's greatest rewards.

  • The battles in Costume Quest re-imagine the real-world characters in a comic-book setting as Reynold will turn from a box in decorated blue boxes into a giant robot worthy of Gundam. His opponent -- an awkward, bug-eyed gremlin -- will become a more sinister-looking creature. While the battles use a traditional, turn-based RPG style, Double Fine has implemented a bit of quick-time button prompts to add some variety.

  • Fans who enjoyed the great performances put forth by the voice actors in Psychonauts and Brutal Legend may be in for a bit of disappointment, as Costume Quest's dialogue is text-only. The rest of the game, however, has the same credentials as the two aforementioned disc-based games. Schafer is amongst the writers for Costume Quest, Harris previously had the role of Lead Animator on Brutal Legend (before that, she served as an animator for Pixar), and the games score is being produced by Peter McConnell, who performed the same role on Psychonauts and Brutal Legend.


Costume Quest preview

Point in development cycle: The game has been in development for almost a year, and is scheduled to come out during October. Given the game's tie to Halloween, I can't imagine the release getting shifted at all.

My take: While it may not have some of the trappings of Double Fine's more big-budget releases like a fully-voiced adventure or a licensed soundtrack, the core of Costume Quest sticks to what makes Double Fine's games so endearing. The characters are impeccably designed and extremely endearing while the story is just as well-written as the likes of Psychonauts and Brutal Legend. As a kid who spent just as much time with a remote in his hand as a remote controller, I always had an affinity for holiday-themed programming like The Simpsons' Treehouse of Horror episodes and Christmas specials of every flavor. I'm hoping Costume Quest can live up to my initial expectations so that holiday-themed console games can start to build the same sort of legacy.

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