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Beneath Costume Quest's cute exterior, it's a story of children's hallucinatory fantasies about violent Fight Club-style battles.

Jake Shapiro, Blogger

March 4, 2012

2 Min Read

Costume Quest is a lil' downloadable RPG developed by Tim Schafer's Double Fine Productions. Released in 2010 to positive-but-unremarkable reviews, the game has been overshadowed by Double Fine's work since then. But beneath Costume Quest's cute exterior, it's essentially Fight Club for children.

You play as an elementary school kid getting himself or herself into a bunch of Halloween hijinks. The kids fight evil monsters, Grubbins, who wish nothing more than to steal all the candy of the world. The characters wear quintessential Halloween costumes like cardboard-box robots and trash-can-lid-for-shield knights, and they go trick-or-treating and collecting as much candy as possible.

Besides the beautifully cartoony cel-shaded art style and Tim Schafer's hallmark sharp, humorous writing, this is a standard turn-based RPG with Paper Mario-style quick-time moves during battles to keep you on your toes. But what stands out most about CQ is the context in which these battles are fought.

When the characters enter battle, the world transforms into a fantasy realm. The kid in the cardboard box transforms into a Gundam-style superbot and the kid with the makeshift shield becomes a larger-than-life knight in shining armor. The characters are fantasy versions of themselves.

But the children in the world of Costume Quest seem to be the only people who even notice the Grubbins. Whenever the characters attempt to call the police, their reports are dismissed. The children talk to plenty of adults throughout the game, but have strictly non-Grubbin-related conversations. Do the Grubbins really exist? Are the characters actually fighting at all? The quest is subtly ironic--stop the Grubbins from monopolizing the world's candy, while at the same time grabbing as much candy as they can get for themselves. I wonder who's the real bad guy here.

Are the children fighting themselves? Are the Grubbins all in their heads? Is this some sort of giant mutual hallucination? Tyler Durden would be proud.

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