DeathSpank – Review

Release Date: Out now!
Developer: Hothead Games
Publisher: EA
Singleplayer: Yes
Splitscreen: Yes
Multiplayer: No, Local Co-op only
(Xbox Live Arcade Title)

DeathSpank. With a name like that you can tell that it deserves a ten straight away. Sadly I can’t just review a game based on its short and frankly great name.   Damn.

Coming from the mind of Ron Gilbert it was obvious from the start that DeathSpank was going to be something a little different, and it is in some area’s and in others it’s firmly trenched in gaming tradition.

Set in a bright world this free-roaming RPG akin to Diablo is possibly one of the funniest games out there and is alongside such greats as Monkey Island (which it makes reference to) and packs a heft amount of game-time for an Arcade release.

As you enter the world you learn that the games lead character, DeathSpank is on a quest to claim a powerful and dangerous artifact, known only as The Artifact.
Soon you’ll be taking part in traditional RPG fare of talking to people and doing quests but without the usual boring dialogue. No, DeathSpank is an over the top heroic hero leading to some truly hysterical conversations with the local inhabitants.
It’s the games biggest strength as the storyline is pretty simplistic, each person is acted well with DeathSpanks over the top voice and inflections being a highlight of the game as he proudly raises his voice.

The humour along is more than enough to keep you playing but as with anything it’s the gameplay that also has to live up to standards and it’s here that the game trips up a little.

The world is quite a size for just an Arcade release and opens up as you progress with a wide variety of locations and a large chunk of side quests to keep you busy and there are hundreds of items to collect as well allowing you to deck out your hero with whatever you wish.
There are some great weapons like Black Hole’s to play with as well and each has a daft and quirky description.

Combat is a simple affair, each of the four face buttons can be assigned a weapon and the game gives you damage boosts as long as you keep switching attacks which usually just results in you going around the four buttons in a circle.
The standard block is in there as well but for the most part combat is a button mashing affair with the only real tactics being the use of your Justice attacks which trigger special attacks, sadly the majority of these aren’t  that impressive.
Finding the right combinations and runes which give you access to special attacks also add a little depth but ultimately the combat is a simple affair and can get tiresome considering the large majority of the game involves hitting things.

And that makes up for the vast majority of missions as well which all amount to kill everything or fetch something. or both.
Once again these people handing out the quests are a joy to converse with and the world is so charming that it keeps you entertained but there is no denying that the games over reliance on these quests is disappointing.

But still while quests may be samey there is a fair chunk of content here with around 12-15 hours required to finish everything and hit level 20 though you could finish up just the main story in around 8 hours and the world is a large place to explore with a huge amount of items to buy and loot from around the place, it’s compelling stuff and any loot obsessed gamer will be happy here.

Basic puzzles also interspersed the hacking and looting but there fairly simple deals though the occasional one may catch you off.

A co-op mode is included but sadly it’s Local only with the second player taking control of Sparkles the wizard.
You share the same lifebar and Sparkles comes with a handful of spells leading the feeling that the co-op mode was a late addition to the game and is not as fleshed out as it should be.

DeathSpank can only be described as Diablo meets Monkey Island, the combat is enjoyable if simplistic and the quests always boil down to fetch or kill but the characters, madcap humour and quirky world make this game something different and a stand-out title on Xbox Live Arcade.

The Good:
+ It’s just so funny!
+ DeathSpank is the most likable idiot ever.
+ Finding the Epic Armour of Epicness.

The Bad:
– Fetch? again?
– Combat just boils down to button mashing.
– 1200MSP. Ouch


Graphics: 8.5
Bright and colorful with a unique style.

Sound: 8.5
Good over-the-top voice acting with some catchy music

Story: 8
It’s simplistic but the humour throughout keeps you laughing.

Gameplay: 7.5
Fetch, kill and button mash with the occasional puzzle. It’s far from groundbreaking.

Lifespan: 9
You’re talking around 15 hours for everything in the game, that’s more than most full releases have!

Overall: 8.5
It may not be the most groundbreaking gameplay but it’s addictive and the charm and humour of the game will keep you playing from start to finish.

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