Game: Costume Quest
Released: Double Fine Productions, October 19, 2010
System: Sony Playstation 3
Game started: October 13th, 2012
Amount completed: Saved our younger brother Reynold from the clutches of the evil witch Dorsilla. Currently trying to aid the Grubbins on Ice.
At my parents’ house, there is a box of random hats, fabrics, and hand-me-down outfits. This collection of odds and ends is simply known as “The Playclothes Bin.” Anytime my siblings and I wanted to dress-up and make believe, we would rummage through the old clothes and create fantastic characters. With an old fedora and an oversized beige sportscoat, my brother would transform into a grizzled detective, who is too old for this mess. A tattered black graduation gown and some plastic fangs twisted me into a vampire bat, ready to take wing upon the night sky. Some fairy wings and bright scarves would metamorphose my sister into the princess of a faraway realm, who came to spread magic to the mundane world. When we were young, our imaginations could change simple costumes into amazing things, and there was no greater time for this magic than on Halloween.
For children, Halloween is a time for dress-up and make believe, for mirth and merriment, and most importantly, for trick-or-treating and candy. School days on October 31st will have parties with bright orange and midnight black decorations. Each home in the neighborhood will become host to ghoulish galas and devilish decorations. Even though this is a night for scares and monsters, Halloween is all in good fun and can bring an entire community together to celebrate and share in good fortune with one another. When you are a kid, Halloween can get no better. Fortunately, Costume Quest successfully embodies the youthful joy of Halloween.
The story of this game revolves around a pair of twins, who dress up in their best robot and candy corn costumes and depart for a fun night of trick-or-treating. Unbeknownst to the siblings, a group of monsters known as Grubbins have been sent on a mission to steal all of the candy in the neighborhood. So when the sweet-snatching goblins come across a kid in a giant candy corn costume, they assume they have hit the mother-load and kidnap the confectionary costumed child.
Naturally, it is up to the remaining sibling to save the kidnapped child and stop these nefarious creatures from ruining Halloween. In order to do so, the player must guide their character from house to house, trick-or-treating at every door in order to stop any candy thefts in progress (and collect sweets, of course). Most of the gameplay revolves around traditional turn based RPG battles, but with an interesting twist. As the children navigate the neighborhood, their costumes are simple things, made up of items one can find around the home. Over the course of the game, the player will collect base materials for new costumes, such as a bright red feather duster for the Statue of Liberty’s torch or a cardboard box for a unicorn’s latter half.
Once the kids are costumed and enter a battle, the entire perspective changes. The plain costumes transform the children into epic heroes, ready to do battle with impressive weapons and awesome attacks. Similarly, the Grubbins, who appear shabby and goofy looking as they stomp around town, change into vile looking monsters, outfitted with medieval armor and weaponry. This style change is never explained or spelled out for the player, not that it needs to be. Whether it be the magic of Halloween night, or the power of a child’s imagination, the characters become what their costumes dictate; the player sees the kids as they see themselves.
With age comes different priorities. Costumes must be realistic and impressive. Young men forgo the cardboard box robots and tin foil knights of childhood and turn to fake blood and prosthetics to be as gory as possible; to terrify their friends and impress the girls. Ladies give up on the strong queen and policewoman costumes of their youth, and pare down to as little fabric covering their bodies as they can manage; to become a “sexy” insert-costume-here. It is so sad to see how much of the magic of Halloween is lost once we grow up. So if you are wishing to recapture some of the joy of All Hallows Eve, start a toasty fire, cook up some spiced cider or hot chocolate, and snuggle up with your loved ones to play Costume Quest.
Just be sure to have your candy bowl ready. You never know when some young ghouls and ghosts will be tapping at your door, eager for some holiday treats.
As my childhood is retreating further and further into memory, so too does the magic of Halloween. For a holiday that Chip and I hold so deeply in our hearts, it seems that adulthood and time has changed everything about it. Halloween (at least in the places I’ve lived) hardly resembles the celebration of my youth. No one seems to trick-or-treat anymore. Hardly anyone puts up decorations. Parties usually happen the weekend before. And it seems things are only getting worse.
Admittedly, playing this game was the first Halloween thing Chip and I had done all month. We practically had to sneak it in one weekend when no one was looking; a fact that thoroughly depresses me. If it hadn’t been for an unexpected four day weekend, this might have shaped up to be a pretty pathetic Halloween indeed.
But it just so happened that Hurricane Sandy came to town. While we were stuck inside waiting for the storm to run her course, we decided to cram as much Halloween magic as we could into that time. Everything from watching Halloween movies and shows, to baking pumpkin muffins, to carving our Pokemon jack-o-lanterns; truly, we spared no expense.