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Costume Quest 2 review for PC, PS4, Xbox One


Platform: PC
Also on: Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4, Wii U
Publisher: Midnight City
Developer: Double Fine Productions
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: Yes
ESRB: E – Everyone

It sounds dismissive to call a game "more of the same." Really, this phrasing sits in a best case scenario of being the safest route a sequel could present, and at its worst is a dispassionate money grab. Double Fine hasn't ever offered us more of… anything… up to this point, but their first-ever sequel of Costume Quest 2 comes off as exactly that: more of the same. It's a knee jerk reaction to call it that, but one that stands true throughout the duration of Costume Quest's successor. So, is that a good thing?

Well, sure, if Costume Quest is your kind of thing. The story is of a similar length and pace, battles play out as they did in the first game, and the adorable look and dialog are all back in form. It's also stuffed with Halloween spirit, with a confident foothold in gaming as the only game to simulate trick-or-treating.

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In typical Double Fine fashion, the game's personality is more endearing than the gameplay itself. In the case of Costume Quest, it's always been limited by the basic nature of its turn-based combat. While there's nothing wrong with being accessible, there haven't been any game-changers to spice things up for RPG veterans, which can lead to a bit of boredom after a few hours. This is balanced out with the inclusion of timing attacks for bonus damage — a Paper Mario mechanic that the previous game also used.

Costume Quest's combat may be highly animated and fun to watch, but it's almost half asleep when it comes to player interaction. It would have been great to see a little confidence in what players are capable of, rather than keeping to tradition. Then again, Costume Quest's whole theme is tradition; it's the ritual of trick-or-treating, or of having another main villain and snappy dialog.

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I haven't played Costume Quest since it came out, and I never finished it thanks a bug patched in post-release that wouldn't let me wear a fry suit or something. Unfortunately, that's my strongest memory of Costume Quest, second to the heartwarming Halloween setting. With Costume Quest 2, it seems that there aren't any game-ending bugs. What there are, however, are several points where you could have fooled me into thinking I'd hit another brick wall — thanks to poor communication on a handful of quests and the overworld map designs. It's nice to have these elements, but clinging too closely to the style of the world (by laying out a map region as if a child drew it) manages to overcomplicate what should be a useful feature.
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Despite the frustration of delivering a fairly accessible game with poor communication skills, Costume Quest 2 delivers more of the same. The Creepy Cards feel overpowered, but give a thin layer of complexity to drape across its unchanged combat system. The dialog is all worth paying attention to, and costume designs come at a nice and steady pace to keep things fresh. Candy Corn would agree, you'll want to keep mixing things up.

It's a Double Fine sequel, with sequel traditions and a continuation of what they started in the first Costume Quest. I'd love to see any trilogy cap get more stylized with its art, maybe a more textured stop-motion aesthetic, but that may have something to do with the out-of-place water and lighting effects that seem like they're from a totally separate game ratcheted up a few levels in rendering tech. The music is also fine, neither disappointing nor finding its true voice.

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While the series originally felt safe, it's beginning now to feel more limited within its own confines. It's not worn out its welcome just yet, although it would be a welcome change to see a third game try to do a little more with a well-established franchise. For now, Costume Quest does exactly what it needs to, giving us more of the same while letting us relive the spirit of Halloween and trick-or-treating. Should it return to round out a trilogy, that won't be enough to respectably close out this series.

Grade: B-