Costume Quest 2 begins directly after the last game with the group of children arriving back home (Auburn Pines) just in time for Halloween. A street party is almost ready to go & once you’ve checked in with your parents you’re free to explore & chat with the folks that live amongst you.
The first clue that something may be about to happen is when you come across a pretty angry dentist, Orel White D.D.S, who has a serious issue with candy. Dr. White is the main protagonist of the game as you witness him going back in time with the help of a mysterious figure & make a deal with the monsters, The Grubbins.
Dr. White wants to destroy Halloween & once again it is up to Wren & Reynold to save it…again.
So far, so Costume Quest…that is until you follow Dr. White through the time portal & end up in Auburn Pines before it became the bustling town it is. Going back in time to when it was nothing more than a swamp with a few ramshackle houses & a bustling French Quarter (New Orleans time). It is a welcome change of visuals & is not the only time period you will visit throughout the game with a future, Halloween-free, Auburn Pines looking spectacular.
Gameplay follows a similar path tread by the first game…3 characters are in your party at any one time & depending on what costume they are wearing they will gain powers from it to progress the story & fight in battles…except for candy corn whose only use is to be a punching bag & spout one-liners. Your starting costumes are a superhero & a piece of candy corn but the early battles aren’t much of a challenge.
Once a battle begins the children are transformed into larger versions of their costumes. The superhero one becoming an actual superhero & later ones seeing you take on the guise of a wolf man, ghost & many more. Each has their own attacks & special abilities that are gained by actions taken during a battle. Not every piece of combat & defence is instantly available. Levelling up & then visiting a friendly face in the future will see new attacks & defences made available.
The more you learn, the easier the game becomes as later combat advances can really swing the most difficult of battles in your favour. It’s not a deep combat system though…you attack with your corresponding button, stop it in the circle to get an ‘awesome’ attack, then wait your turn while defending. Once your special is available you can use that instead of your normal attack. Depending on your character, the specials can be incredibly game-changing…my favourite is the Tomas Jefferson costume special.
That’s pretty much it for combat & you’ll probably find you rarely lose a battle unless you’re not watching your health. Even that isn’t really an issue as it can be restored by drinking at some of the many fountains…finish a battle, drink out of a fountain & you’re good to go for the next one. Playing with candy corn in your party can add some difficulty to the game as it has no attacks but will soak up a lot of the enemy damage. It’s worth playing this way for the added difficulty as well as the achievement that can be gained from doing so.
Collectible creepy cards can also help in battle. There are 45 to collect, some coming from winning battles, some from completed quest-lines, some bought & others from puzzle solving. They range in benefits but some of the more useful ones can destroy every enemy on screen when used. The drawback is that they can only be used once before a cool-down period (a number of battles) & you can only take 3 into any one battle. It adds some much needed strategy to battles though.
The rest of the game is taken up with exploration, slight puzzle solving & quests. Every area will have quest for you to complete, some necessary to progress, others are just extra but few will tax your brain. Repetition is the biggest problem with many of the quests with different areas having the same quests repeated such as ‘hide & seek’ with 6 kids & ‘trick or treating’. You can’t help but feel we could have gotten a bit more variation in the quests.
Complaints aside though Costume Quest 2 is a lot of fun to play. Visually it is really pretty to look at & makes great use of colours & lighting. The characters throughout are interesting & well developed with Dr. White being a particular well thought out character. Combat can be avoided at times so if you’re getting sick of repetitive battles you can just avoid them but with a huge range of costumes playing as each should be something every player does.
In the end the game ended around the 7 hour mark for me & that is with every quest completed. For an arcade game this is a fair length & there are many retail games out there with shorter campaigns (Ground Zeroes!)
This sequel does exactly what a sequel should do…improve upon everything without changing too much. Costume Quest 2 is a great Halloween game that will still feel fresh no matter what time of the year it is played. Combat still feels shallow & the game is pretty easy all the way through but it never stops being fun!
Costume Quest 2