Four years ago, Double Fine delighted fans with the original Costume Quest; a charming RPG starring twins Wren and Reynold and their friends on a Halloween-themed adventure in their local neighbourhood and beyond. Costume Quest 2 starts where the first game finished (if you ignore the first game's DLC) with little explanation of who the characters are or what happened in the previous game. In fact, the backstory is barely touched upon, despite several nods to events and characters from the first title throughout, making it difficult to relate to the characters or story, even if you are familiar with what went before.
So it is then that the game begins on Halloween night, when Wren and Reynold witness an evil, time travelling dentist setting out to eliminate Halloween and trick or treating forever. The kids immediately jump into action to prevent this dire future by gaining control of the time travel device to assess the damage in the future and right the wrongs of the past. The plot explores various locations and three points in time, with time travel-based puzzle solving being sadly overlooked as a mechanic (remember shrinking the sweater for the hamster in Day of the Tentacle? Now that's how to do time travel puzzles!) The story moves along at a good pace and the writing is reasonable, fairly witty and keeps the player on track.
True to the traditions of the holiday, the characters are in costume throughout, with the player being able to change costumes to suit the situation. This mechanic is what gives the game some serious charm, as the power of the kids' imaginations transforms them and their flimsy homemade suits into all-powerful giant fighting machines. Be it a 100ft candy corn or an enormous super hero, each one has a unique power in or out of battle, that will assist the twins in their quest to save Halloween. The battles are turn based, with new skills and power ups being collected throughout the game. Some skilled timed button pushes are on hand to allow even more powerful attacks - though these are fairly twitchy and may be a little difficult for younger players to master. There are also 45 "Creepy Treat" cards which can be used to buff or debuff characters in order to turn the tide of battle. Overall, the battle system is the key selling point, but the problem is that enemy types are bunched together without any variation, so each area will feature three or so enemies and you will fight a combination of those over and over again. As there are no seriously tough enemies in the game, this lack of variety is extremely tedious.
When not in battle, the player maneuvers around the map looking for candy (the main currency in the game), finding new costumes for battle, or trying to solve basic puzzles. As the Costume Quest series seems to be aimed at children, this is pitched really well, with puzzles being simple fetch quests or tasks such as using a unique costume ability to solve a problem. For example, honking a clown horn as a musical accompaniment, or using a pharoah's staff to slide down a zip line. There are a lot of quests which use trick or treating as a mechanic, sending the player to knock on doors to collect candy or fight monsters, depending on what's behind the door. Although this made sense in the first game, it feels shoehorned in to this sequel and becomes dull very quickly. In fact, that can be said for much of the game. Ideas which were fresh and cute in the original title are reused or slightly changed in the sequel and offer nothing new or compelling. The graphics look almost exactly the same and did not fair well on our big screen and the sound and gameplay would generally be considered to be just okay.
The first Costume Quest was charming and entertaining, the costume mechanic and battle system were well executed (if not terribly challenging or original) and the story was well told and witty. This sequel changes nothing and carries on where the last game left off. There are some genuinely funny moments and the new costumes are interesting enough, but overall, Costume Quest 2 is a repetitive carbon copy of the 2010 title and should probably have been DLC or released as part of a double pack with the original on Xbox One. It's a fun game, but with realistically only six hours of playing time on hand, it may leave you wanting.