What happens when you mix RPG hack, slash and loot elements ala Diablo with the humorous writings of Monkey Island creator Ron Gilbert? You get the very funny, very addictive and extremely charming Deathspank. A parody laden Action/Adventure RPG that while solid and a lot of fun, often falls into the traps of the very subject it is trying to parody.
You fill the role of Deathspank, hero and vanquisher of justice. You are on a quest to recover the mysterious object simply dubbed “The Artifact” and fulfill your life quest of being the worlds greatest hero. Along the way you will perform all the staples of stereotypical RPG games, but the difference is this time it’s done with a smile. Comedic dialogue takes a large part in the appeal of Deathspank. You’ll encounter all sorts of wacky characters and interesting dialogue trees that keep things fun and interesting. Ever wonder if chickens have lips? Thinking what a retired WoW character would get up to if he was put back into normal society? Deathspank will answer all these questions and more and provides enough funny moments that warrant a purchase regardless of the great gameplay.
While being a parody of typical RPG’s, Deathspank is simply that; a typical go fetch this item, talk to this guy, kill these monsters and return for experience points. It falls victim to the very conventions it pokes fun at, which at times can feel a little forced. That’s not to say the game is bad at all. Even though it’s the same as the other conventional RPG’s completing quests, slaying enemies and looting is as fun as ever. The enemies are varied and often hilarious, the items are just as ridiculous and the gameplay mechanics are simple but effective.
Hacking and slashing enemies for ten hours doesn’t sound like the most varied experience, but thankfully Deathspank has an ever-evolving arsenal of weapons at your disposal. You have four weapon slots that you can fill up with whatever you like. Want four swords? Maybe you want to have a delicious assortment of crossbows, cleavers and hammers? The choice is entirely yours. Two of the weapons are assigned to the left and right mouse buttons and you can hit the Tab key to switch to the other two. When taking on multiple enemies you will need to learn the subtle task of using your weapons together to perform deadly combos. These small but fantastic mechanics really make some varied and engaging combat, especially with the amount of weapons available in Deathspank.
Next to the impressive number of weapons available is the glorious loot items that slain enemies will leave behind. You are always sure to find some awesome items including swords, chicken cannons, axes, protections orbs and more. Each item has unique name and along with it comes some great item properties. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to compare items. Running on a simple colour coded system you will need to hover over each item and compare their stats to decide which is best for your quest. It’s a little annoying that there isn’t an easier way to compare your inventory, but thankfully there is an auto equip option that will always use the best items for Deathspank.
Deathspank really stands out as an artistic gem with it’s unique style of using 3D models on a 2D backdrop. It’s charming, it looks great and the world is a vibrant mess of colours and detail that really sticks out amongst other games in the crowd. It’s hard not to fall in love with the colourful world that you are presented with, and it truly is a pleasure to traverse.
Thankfully the developers have ironed out some of the bugs from the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions for this release. It runs better on the PC; while console users experienced slow down when running into a large group of enemies the PC version triumphs keeping a constant frame rate at all times. Controls also suit WSAD and a mouse better than a controller in hand. For those who are still more comfortable with a 360 controller in their hands will be happy to know that the game fully supports gamepads.