Thursday, October 23, 2014

Non Adventure Review - Costume Quest: Grubbins on Ice

Grubbins on Ice is downloadable content for Double Fine's role playing game Costume Quest that is a new story to experience with new artwork and locations and new costumes to use.  Since it runs on top of the main game, the gameplay is the same, but it manages to present enough new ideas to make it worth playing.

The game starts months after Costume Quest ended, after winter has arrived.  Lucy and Everett are looking for proof that Repugia actually exists, to prove that their last adventure actually happened. They stumble upon a portal to Repugia, and Lucy is soon kidnapped.  This time the twins Wren and Reynold team up together with Everett to save their friend.  Even though both twins are part of the team this time through, the player still chooses between them to pick who is the leader of the group.  Once the team is assembled, the trio heads through the portal to Repugia to get Lucy back.

This is where the charm of Grubbins on Ice comes into play, as the roles are switched.  Whereas in Costume Quest, the kids went around their neighborhood fighting monsters who had invaded their realm to take their candy, here they are the outsiders who are viewed by the residents as the monsters. Upon arriving, the trio learn that there are Repugians that are part of a revolution to overthrow the tyrant who has kidnapped Lucy.  Joining in on the revolution, the trio now knock on doors soliciting candy to support the revolution.  It plays the same as the original game, with this humorous monstrous twist, with the group fighting monsters in order to get stronger and collecting candy in order to buy battle stamps to increase their abilities in battle.  However, as this uses the same system as the main game, the drawbacks present in that game are still present here.  The turn based combat system with quick time events for increasing damage and dodging attacks are still here, and still do get repetitive after a while.  However, like the main game, the strengths of the game in other areas helps to alleviate this.

The Repugian world is covered in snow, and the charming art style of Costume Quest is put to good use here.  The new world is mysterious, and the white blanket of snow over everything helps to add to that.  As with the main game, the art of the characters and the backgrounds are charmingly whimsical, and really fit with the feeling of childhood that the game world is going for.  The humor is in full force here, as the developers seemed to have had a lot of fun playing around with the concept, as the main thrust of the story is actually slightly more creative and memorable than the main game.

The costumes from the main game are once again used here, both in battle and in some cases in Repugia itself.  But, there are actually three new costumes to be found here, one of which ties right into the winter theme.  Since there are only three to find here, all three of them have powers that can be used outside of battle, and all of them have interesting transformation animations when used in battle.  The new costumes are used well for the new puzzles, and once again there are many hidden things to be found using these new abilities.  There are still no voices in the game, but the humorous dialog once again makes up for it in spades. As with the main game, the excellent musical score adds to the atmosphere and also helps to pull you into the game world in lieu of voice work.

Grubbins on Ice succeeds in all the areas that the main game did, but it still has the same drawbacks as well.  The turn based combat system with quick time events still gets repetitive, and there is no voice acting.  However, the story here is slightly more original and memorable than the main game, and the humor that comes from showing the concept of trick or treating from the Repugian side with the human kids as the monsters is quite entertaining. The art style is still as charming as ever and the new costumes are fun, both in battle and out.  The game's excellent soundtrack and fun puzzles also help to make this game worth playing.  You have to buy it seperately on consoles, but it is free on computer platforms.  No matter what platform you get this for, however, it is well worth getting as it's a fun, but quite short, experience.

Final Verdict:

3½ out of 5

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