Some of you may be looking forward to playing Dead Space 2, some may be cuteing it up in Little Big Planet 2, some might be looking for some thrills in the Killzone 3 Beta, but me? I’m looking forward to next week’s release of the Double Fine downloadable game Stacking, a stealth/class based action adventure about a Russian Doll trying to rescue his family.
If you weren’t keeping tabs, this is the second of four planned downloadable games from Double Fine that was to be the alternative to a sequel to Brutal Legend, which I thought was a good game but didn’t definitely need a sequel. This series of new games has sated my need for Tim Schafer’s quirky comedy games while also putting a different designer at the helm of each of the four games to be released. I’ve been a fan of downloadable games since I got my PS3 and realised the online games were soo cheap. Right up my alley.
Now, this post is obviously not a review of Stacking, since it isn’t out yet, so what could you possibly read in this post? How about my opinion of the first of the four games (Costume Quest), and maybe chuck in a bit of a glimpse DeathSpank 1 & 2? Ok then, you’ve got yourself a deal!
Costume Quest was released Halloween last year which is an indication to the theme of the game. It’s a story about a cute brother and sister who aren’t too happy about being forced into each other’s company by their parents during the trick or treat festivities in the neighbourhood. The story unfolds as a cutesy but not too sweet tale of teenagers raiding stores and kidnapping whichever sibling you chose NOT to play as at the start of the game. They aren’t actually teenagers in the game, they are mystical trolls and crows, but it is assumed they are teenagers from the perspective of a child’s over-imagination and adventurisation (if that’s a real word) of the game.
The gameplay is in the form of a turn-based RPG with the mechanics pretty much like a Final Fantasy, you see the enemy on the screen and when approached a separate battle sequence is initiated. In Costume Quest when a battle is encountered, the child (and later when you find companions, children) transforms into an awesome version whatever costume they are wearing – which makes things more bearable for the men out there to keep their machismo in check. There are plenty of costumes to pick up and battles don’t get tedious. The combination of costumes and ‘battle stamps’ give your characters powers that would be best described as picking character classes in a more tweakable way. For example, if you dress up as the jack-o-lantern (high attack power) you’d be wise to pair it with a counter-attack battle stamp which would make battles much faster and more efficient. Strategy aside, when in battle you are required to press a corresponding button/buttons/stick rotation (depending on the costume) to deal the maximum damage or defend against the maximum damage dealt by the enemies. This is a fresh addition to the turn-based RPG genre and creates more of a challenge, less of a button mash, and more fun for the kids (That’s if you let them play, since you’ll be too busy playing it yourself)
I thought Costume Quest was a lot of fun for little money, would be good for kids or hardcore gamers wanting a little time playing a reasonably challenging game with a child-like quality and trick-or-treat nostalgia. It’s been bug free since day one like most DL games available which is a plus. Costume Quest has no voice acting, so if you were planning on spending a sleepy/inebriated night looking at pretty colours and following forgivable quicktime event battles you should be prepared to do a bit of reading, or a bit of skipping dialogue which is a viable alternative. The only concern I had was after I played it once there was no reason for me to ever boot it up again, which is something DL game developers still haven’t worked out a solution to yet.
DeathSpank! From the name you can tell you’re in for a wild ride, and with the brain of Ron Gilbert of Monkey Island (I’ll promise to stop talking about that LucasArts piece-of-wonder after this post) your bound for a funny and completely customisable Diablo alternative. For a bit of money and a bit of gigabyte you get plenty of jokes, charm, action, character and undergarments.
DeathSpank and Deathspank: Thongs of Virtue (essentially episode one and two of the same game) are two action adventure slasher stories about a knight who loves to kill things in the name of Justice, and with the guidance of the mysterious Sandy, he goes about making the world a better place, one town at a time. It’s a mildly open world game at times and the quest system is good until you run out of quests. The weapon selection system is reasonable in getting you to use a variety of ranged, melee and thrown weapons in combat. The variety of weapons is also tremendous, you’ll spend most of your time picking out your best gear and thwarting enemies until you are strong enough to wear that even better and interestingly-titled armour you have been eyeing off since you picked it up an hour ago. Other things to look forward to is two player co-op with a Steve the Wizard obsessed with his own name or Tanko the man-spider, the presence of voice acting (!), top shelf – usually toilet – humour and fun, balanced combat that won’t make you cringe with difficulty or pout from easiness.
I’ll stop there to keep this review short and sweet, you can all shuffle off and read some more about DeathSpank elsewhere if this has tickled your fancy. Heck, maybe you’ll even buy it, stranger things have happened.
More of my reviews/ideas/thoughts/bizarre at twitter.com/warmanator