Review: DeathSpank

“I have a fever, and the only prescription is more Side Quest!”

DeathSpank tells the comedic story of a true hero of justice, DeathSpank, and his quest to recover a powerful artifact known only as the artifact. It is a downloadable title for the Playstation 3 and X-Box 360, and since you may be considering it, here’s what you can expect from DeathSpank.

First of all, the story basically introduces you to DeathSpank, who appears to be some sort sort of self-idealized do-gooder who is out to serve justice and find the powerful artifact. To do so, he has a local boy show him how to get to a mad witch who knows where the artifact is starting him out on his quest.

Now, the story is fairly generic as far as action games go, and sometimes intentionally so, but the writing and dialog though out the game is fantastic! The game is jam-packed with witty writing, pop-culture references, and hilarious dialog and will no doubt have you laughing the whole way through. In fact, this review’s title is one example of how good the writing in the game is. The voice actors are a big part of making the writing so successful, as they often deliver it perfectly (the voice actor for DeathSpank did really well).

The game play is your typical hack-and-slash/RPG style of game play and so DeathSpank will have your standard health and experience points bar, DeathSpank will can equip up to four different weapons and use them at any time by mapping them to the four action buttons. You also have a shield that you can block with at any time by hitting and holding R2. You can also map up to four “item” items on your directional buttons. DeathSpank will also protect himself by equipping your standard armor pieces and various accessories. Oddly enough, you won’t ever equip pants, as DeathSpank seems to prefer wearing nothing but his purple thong. Yeah…

Anyway, the game is essentially a series of main quests and side quests. You’ll hack up various monsters (who will have their own level) and collect experience, money, and sometimes quest-related items. Monsters will also sometimes drop items, armor and weapons as well. The game’s humor doesn’t stop at the writing either, as many weapons that you acquire are there to provide comic relief such as the chicken launcher, which gives you a pack of vicious chicken followers, or an item that allows you to raise undead minions. When you level up, you’ll get to pick from one of three “hero cards” which grant you bonuses like “deal 10% more melee damage”. The next level you’ll get to pick from three other hero cards, and there are six card types to obtain in all. To heal yourself, make sure the map health potions or food to one of your item slots. Potions restore health instantly while you need to wait a few seconds for DeathSpank to eat whatever food you select. 

The side quests can get pretty repetitive after awhile. One particular string of quests literally consisted of me talking to a tree, getting it a weird item (that was maybe a five second walk away to pick up), and repeating that action at least four times. Thankfully, other quests transcend your typical hack-and-slash at times and requires you to think about how you’re going to do what you need to do. These quests often require you to interact with objects around the world in conjunction with your inventory. It’s also important to note that the game does feature multi-player co-op game play. The second player controls DeathSpank’s wizard friend and has his own abilities.

The graphics in the game sport a cartoony look, which fit in perfectly with the game’s humorous tone. DeathSpank and many of the citizens around the world that he lives in are often disproportionate and have various features that stand out. Also many of the game’s objects and back grounds are really just pieces of 2D art, set up around the world like a pop-up book while DeathSpank and the various enemies around the world run around them with their 3D selves. The world also rotates itself as you run around it, which I guess is their way of trying to keep Deathspank in the middle of the action. There are also a handful of semi-animated cut scenes throughout the game. Overall the game looks great.

I’ve already commented on the great voice acting, but what about the game’s music? The title music is by far the most entertaining piece, combining jazz and funk. The main game has somewhat sparser music, as it often goes quiet when you aren’t directly engaged in battle. When you are engaged in battle though (and you will be a lot), the music quickly picks up, becoming almost frantic at times.

There is quite a bit to do in DeathSpank, especially for a downloadable title, as there are many, many side quest to do. You can expect to spend anywhere from 6-12 hours with the game, depending on your play style of course. There are also three levels of difficulty to choose from and of course various trophies and achievements to pursue.

Overall, DeathSpank is full of great writing and entertaining game play, sure to please hack-and-slash fans everywhere. I highly recommend it to fans of the genre and comedy in general. Have fun and keep playing

Score: 8 out of 10

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