Please Rate This Review: Deathspank
HIGH Deathspank and some of the NPCs spewing so many quirky jokes that you will wet yourself with laughter.
LOW Repetitive gameplay, combat and some sidequests. A bit of a Diablo clone really.
WTF Unicorn poop?!
The Dispenser of Justice, Vanquisher of Evil, Hero to the Downtrodden: Deathspank, an ostentatious hero looking for an object that holds great and possible ‘doomsday-esque’ power. Guided by his sword, quest log and world map, he tends to be remembered, by the people in his world at least, for what he is about to do.
Deathspank is, without doubt, the quirkiest and funniest character you will play in any RPG today. He almost has a Guybrush Threepwood likeness about him although he looks like Buzz Lightyear in a leotard. This comes as no surprise though, both being work of Ron Gilbert of Monkey Island fame. Deathspank borrows some of Monkey Island’s well-known traits, like well-written and incredibly funny dialogue and likeable characters but this game is in its own slash ‘em and loot ‘em entity.
The typical role-playing game follows a certain script: you do a quest, receive experience points, level up, kill some monsters, loot them, spend money on an unnecessary tonne of armour and weapons even though you are only going to use one of each and sell the rest for half their value or in Deathspank’s case, cleverly ‘grinding’ them to bags full of gold.
Deathspank follows this procedure but adds humour and a visually-pleasing pop-art style to make it stand out from other RPGS like Diablo for example. The quests are pretty much standard and repetitive, especially the side quests or the ‘unimportant quests to do’ as the game calls it. The main quest follows the narrative, as it usually does, and the story follows Deathspank trying to obtain an artifact simply known as The Artifact. What’s stopping him is an evil eccentric tyrant called Lord Von Prong who will exchange The Artifact for orphans whom have been kidnapped by his lesser henchmen. To achieve this, Deathspank needs assistance and the one to deliver is the Oscar-winning supporting character of this bizarre and metaphorical motion picture, Eugene the Retired.
He’s a proud and slightly crazy old man with many unbelievable stories to tell from the ‘good ole days’. And this is where most of the humour injects itself through the dialogue trees. Even when speaking to ordinary NPCs, you cannot help but to pick an option that sounds totally irrelevant, but you just want to have a little laugh.
Sometimes it seems the game is self-aware, that they are in a game and that they must mock any cliché or geeky reference of any kind. At one point, I heard a movie, a game and internet reference during a conversation with orques (orcs). Half this game seems like a contradiction to actual medieval/orcs and elves fantasy, but this is fantasy in a totally different realm. You do get the orcs and goblins, but with different names, other enemies comprise of twisted versions of real-life animals or mythological creatures and would just like to say...don’t underestimate the unicorn.
Without the humour, Deathspank would be less captivating, but thank the demon gods and unicorn poop, the game is captivating and bathing in comedy gold. Comedy in games seems to be a dying art in recent times, and Deathspank is there to appeal to old-school RPG or LucasArts adventure game fans whilst giving something interesting to modern-RPG players. It is a repetitive roaming-about, slicer and dicer, but the characters know how to mock themselves and not take itself and the game seriously. Even the non-descriptive quest givers can make you laugh.
Deathspank is a messy fantasy world of everything and anything. The gameplay may not be anything revolutionary, but beside it, the developers know how to write this game and the result: a very funny one.
Disclosures: This game was obtained and reviewed on the Xbox 360 console/Xbox Live Arcade. At least 15 Hours were put into the single-player mode, completing both the main quest and side quests.
Parents: This game contains aspects of dark and quirky humour which may not be appropiate for children under 12 years old, that and they probably understand the points of references.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing: You can read subtitles for all spoken dialogue, and every single piece of dialogue appears in a text box when interacting with a NPC with or without subtitles enabled. Other audio like background and combat music are not as loud as the spoken dialogue and that might be a mild inconvenience.