Deathspank - Xbox Live Arcade

You should have a pretty good idea if Deathspank is a game for you right after hearing the title. If it even made you crack a smile, then this is a game you might want to take a look at. If it didn’t, then unfortunately I have to be the one to break the news to you that you may, in fact, not have a soul.

Deathspank is the newest title from developer Hothead Games and, as I’m sure you’ve heard, Ron Gilbert of Monkey Island/Maniac Mansion/the-list-goes-on fame. The game has been described (by others and now by me) as Diablo meets a classic adventure game which sounds like an odd mix but it comes together in a way that makes sense almost immediately.

But is it a combination that works?

Without giving too much away I can assure you that not only is Deathspank a whole hell of a lot of fun, it’s easily one of the best downloadable titles to be released this year.

You play as the hero Deathspank as he travels around in search of The Artifact. Along the way to your end goal, you will embark on dozens of quests that have you doing a wide variety of tasks; from literally beating the crap out of demons using a Poop Hammer, to collecting orphans by tossing them into an old sack, to seeking out "Keep on Truckin’" posters for a pink talking tree.

Needless to say the game does not take itself very seriously. Legitimately funny games can be tricky to pull off butDeathspank rises to the occasion and ends up being one of the funnier games I’ve played in quite some time.  I really shouldn’t have expected any less from one of the creators of Monkey Island.

The humour is immediately apparent as soon as you get into your first conversation. As with all great adventure games, you are given several dialogue options throughout conversations and you are going to want to explore each and every one that is available. Nearly all of the dialogue is hilarious and also tends to tred a little into darker territory, which I loved.

What surprised me the most was the sheer amount of recorded dialogue in this game. There has got to be thousands and thousands of lines of dialogue, all of it fully voiced and for a downloadable game, the amount of work on display here is staggering. Of course all of the actors voicing this dialogue do top notch work. The actor portraying Deathspank does the perfect mix of cluelessness and arrogance, nailing all of the line deliveries. There are also dozens of supporting characters, each with their own unique voice and personality. They really went all out for this project and that effort really shines through in the end product.

So we’ve established that the game is really funny, but history has shown us many examples of games where quality humour still can’t make up for lackluster gameplay. Thankfully that’s not a problem here as Deathspankhas quality gameplay to back that humour up.

If you’ve played other loot based hack and slash games such as Diablo or the more recent Torchlight, you have an idea of what is in store for you here. You map four different weapons to the face buttons and use them to take out enemies (the enemy design is also very unique and funny but I don’t want to give any of that away here). Some weapons obviously work better against certain enemies so you will have to switch up your tactics to find out what works best. Killing enemies gets you money and more loot, which you can then either equip or grind down into money in order to buy better items. Oh and in case you were wondering, yes the weapon and armour names are also hilarious.

The combat is fun and actually offers a good deal of variety. The weapons all feel pretty unique from one another and they are fun to use. On top of the combat there are also the aforementioned classic adventure games elements where you use items in your inventory on objects in the environment in order to accomplish certain tasks. None of them are too difficult to decipher, and there’s a helpful hint system in place if you do happen to get stuck, but it’s integrated into the game well and gives it that extra touch of personality.

As can be expected with this type of game, it can get very very addicting. You’re always striving towards a goal, whether it’s obtaining money to buy better loot, or completing one of the many side quests. I usually had at least 6 or 7 quests on the go at one time (often a lot more) and many times when you complete a quest, that character will turn around and immediately give you another one. There is always a ton to do at one time, creating the classic “ok I’ll just do this one thing and then I’ll stop” and then before you know it, it’s three hours later and you’re still going.

The game does have local coop where a second player can take control of Sparkles the Wizard (great freaking name) to help out. Sparkles can heal Deathspank, and has a few spells of his own. Unfortunately the options as Sparkles are pretty limited as he only has four spells total and is unable to obtain any more. He also shares the same health bar as Deathspank so he never feels like his own complete character. Still though it can be a lot of fun to just watch Deathspank be played so at least this way another player can get involved at even a basic level.

To beat the game with 100% you’re likely looking at around 8 hours and for $15, you are more than getting your moneys worth here. You may not want to play it again right away, but I can see it being a title you break out again down the road. It’s a terrific game that is addicting, fun and completely hilarious. At the price they’re asking, I can think of absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t grab Deathspank immediately.