From the minds of the developers over at Double Fine comes the role-playing game Costume Quest, one of several downloadable titles that the studio is working on. President and CEO Tim Schafer and project lead Tasha Harris stopped by the GameSpot office to show off their first game about a brother and sister who must rid the city of candy-stealing monsters. The charming art style and hilarious interaction between the siblings make this game ideal for just about anyone. Regardless of whether or not Halloween is your favorite holiday of the year, nothing beats transforming into a giant robot when all you had on was a cardboard box accented with tinfoil.
The demo began with mom and dad (mostly mom) lecturing the identical twins Wren and Reynold about making friends on Halloween and trick-or-treating together--what loving siblings should do. These twins don't have that kind of relationship, however. So after much fuss and girly slapping, you then point (with mom's finger) and choose which character you want to play as. The story will unfold the same way no matter whom you pick, so in this case, we chose Reynold. As the main character, you'll get the cool robot costume, whereas Wren had to sport the candy corn outfit that was probably crafted out of a trash bag. Her bitterness shows, as she tags along and finds ways to annoy Reynold as much as possible while they're out trick-or-treating.
The core mechanic of the game involves going house to house, snagging candy from friendly homes that still have their light on, and fighting monsters in the not-so friendly ones. Some candy-loving creatures have infiltrated the neighborhood and want to clear out all the houses of sweets. However, before we make it past the second house, Wren is snatched by a hideous goblin that mistakes her for a tasty bonbon and tosses her over a locked gate. Reynold decides to go after her, primarily because he's worried about getting grounded. He runs into an evil witch named Dorsilla and gets his robot costume taken away. But with the help of a black cat, he finds a pattern shortly after and is able to piece together a new costume after rummaging up some supplies. You'll collect multiple costumes throughout the game, and with the right pattern and materials, you'll magically have a new costume to put on and use to fend off foul beasts.
When you're not running around town knocking on doors, you'll likely be fighting in one of your various high-performance costumes. In battle, you automatically transform into a much cooler version of whatever it is that you're wearing. So in this case, Reynold transformed into a towering Gundam-like robot armed with heavy artillery. The battles are turn-based, and you use the X and B buttons to attack, and once you've charged up your special attack, you can unleash it with the Y button. A bar appears when you attack, which is like a minigame. If you can hit the A button as the cursor moves over the indicated spot, you'll be able to do a critical attack. The same applies when you're on the defensive, so you can take less damage.
Your costume also comes with benefits when you're out trick-or-treating. For example, the robot costume comes with wheelie skates, so you can zip along the streets much faster than you normally would, as well as launch yourself off ramps to explore new areas. Whenever an icon appears, you can use your candy pail to bash things like dumpsters and trash cans, and you can smash pumpkins and basically rummage through anything that would yield candy, the game's currency. Treasure coffins are strewn about and contain helpful items like the quest pieces needed to complete a new costume. Every quest that you undertake is logged in your notebook, and it keeps track of what's active, what's new, and what you may have missed.
Before our demo ended, Reynold approached a bully who was trying to steal candy from a small boy named Everett. By outrunning the bully Travis with his wheelie skates, Reynold was able to save Everett from having to return home without any treats. You'll run into plenty of interesting characters in the streets, including adults who never offer anything useful. It would be in your best interest to explore and talk to everyone, because with Schafer penning the script, it's hard not to laugh. The look and feel of the game also change as you play, because one minute you'll be exploring the cartoon-like suburban neighborhood and interacting with other cute wide-eyed children, but the next minute you'll be brought into a battle that's like an intense comic-book fight scene. Your enemies are more ferocious looking, and you're obviously much more intimidating--so it works out.
We're looking forward to seeing more of Costume Quest, as it is scheduled to be released in the fall time frame on the Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network. Stay tuned for more updates.