What happens when you take the man behind the classic adventure game Monkey Island and blend it with an action RPG? You get DeathSpank; Hothead Games newest title, and latest creation of game designer extraordinaire, Ron Gilbert.
Tagged as Diablo meets Monkey Island, DeathSpank is a straight up Hack and Slash action RPG with plenty of both! You are DeathSpank, and your goal is quite simply to acquire The Artifact. In one of many jabs at classic RPG story lines, DeathSpank goes out of its way to poke fun at the whole cookie-cutter RPG genre, while being one itself. Item names, quests and even the main story line are littered with laughs and while not uncontrollably R-O-F-L funny, the dialogue has enough in it to make L-O-L now and then.
The gameplay is solid! Being able to assign weapons to each of your four face buttons (X,Y,B,A) DeathSpank makes the hacking and slashing accessible and fun. Alternating the attack sequence through the different buttons builds combos and thus increases your damage multiplier as you litter the battlefield with corpses, loot and of course, money!
At its core, DeathSpank is a loot game. Most of your time is spent working on quests and killing baddies in order to increase both your level and your armor. A welcomed function for me was the ability to check off a box that always equips the best armor, which allows you to worry less about micromanaging your gear, and focus on lopping off more demon heads! With a variety of weapons and attack options youve already got a lot on your plate just finding the different ways you can kill mobs.
While we're talking about time management, running back to towns and vendors is a thing of the past! In your inventory is a Grinder that grinds up unwanted items into Gold! I never liked having to manage bag space and decide which items to keep and sell, and which to leave lying around and now I don't have to!
Another aspect of the RPG that DeathSpank has simplified is the character customization. Following each level youre able to pick a card that lets you run faster, hit harder, block more etc, allowing you to gear DeathSpank to the way you play. It isnt very deep however, and by the time youve come around to the end of the game, youve collected all the cards and DeathSpank is all he can be.
The graphics are pretty stunning. A very interesting and different art style lends itself perfectly to the game. Different environments, enemies and weapons keep the game looking fresh the whole time youre in there.
I enjoyed my time with DeathSpank though I found the game a little tedious at times. The pacing is good, and theres always something to do, but really youre not getting a vast variety of quest. At their root, theyre all the same. Kill X of these, collect Y of those and then bring them to person Z for more loot.
A big draw has to be the comedy aspect, and as I mentioned theres plenty of it, though a lot of it on the corny side that will make you groan. It also comes with what I like to call "the girlfriend co-op". Sparkels the Wizard can be played by a second local-player, and can help DeathSpank out in some minor ways by doing things such as healing or picking up some dropped loot. He doesn't level on his own, and is just generally playing a supporting role and can hop in and out at will.
DeathSpank succeeds at what it set out to do, it gives you some laughs, makes a mess of mobs and keeps you busy for a few hours. Im not entirely convinced its worth 1200 Microsoft Points but its a solid XBLA game, and if youre looking for something down this aisle, the value should be there.