DeathSpank is the hero of justice, big and bold he roams the world and helps the downtrodden. This tends to involve a lot of killing and collecting stuff and so begins an action packed adventure of the loud hero.
Hack and slash RPG type games can be pretty boring. You roam around in caves for hours hitting stuff and picking stuff up and DeathSpank is no different. Wandering around the world you press buttons to kill enemies (from eight buttons for weapons or items) and you complete tasks for people, which involves finding things or killing things. It doesn’t stray from this point and the game keeps this up for about six hours. Though DeathSpank manages to be a little more than a hack and slog.
What DeathSpank has is a distinctive look, a simple, easily manageable way to play and a sense of humour. The world is bright with pink fairy tale forests, ghostly woods, fiery demon pits and more, all with pop up book style objects and a world which seems to be set on a sphere as you walk around, very Animal Crossing. The locations may largely be the generic fantasy settings you’d expect, but the game is incredibly pretty giving new life to these clichés. And they be full of brilliant characters. Everyone seems to need something doing and they all offer strange quirks, felt obsessions, a fisherman who wonders why ogres get angry at him for eating their offspring and a spoilt orphan who wants it all. The humour can be crude, silly and dry providing fun for everyone. I really enjoyed the idea of buying a child an ugly pony, finding a tree a poster saying ‘keep on truckin’ and dropping an anvil down a well so you can steal a farmers cherries. It’s daft, but you go with it and have a good time, talking to characters to see what funny lines will be said next and exploring to see what new things you’ll come across. It’s never serious, and DeathSpank’s journey to find the artifact is a fun one. No monotonous characters or quests here.
The tedium of the hack and slash RPG genre is removed because of how easy everything has been made. You can have it so the best equipment is automatically stuck onto DeathSpank’s body, and you can sell old items through the menu by grinding them to money. Missions are tidily put together as important, unimportant and done, and adjustable difficulty really makes it a game you can play without the necessary frustrations the genre can bring. Mainly sticking to outdoors environments stops repeating grey caves and the world contains a decent mix of enemies, all unique to their own location with a few variations here and there. It feels fresh and the simple gameplay and great amusing world makes an enjoyable journey. It may be a bit simple for hardcore hack and slash RPG fans, but for the people who don’t generally get on with them, this is something rather special.
It may still be a repetitive button basher with too many collectibles and a two player mode which, while fun, doesn’t allow the second player to customise or level up acting more as a support mode, but it has a heart which should draw people in. Maybe one too many poop jokes litter the floor, but this is a well written game anyone can enjoy. Monkey Island is still the creator Ron Gilbert’s best but this is a good way to take another niche genre and add some laughs.