Let me start off by saying I am typically not a fan of Games for XBLA (Xbox LIVE Arcade) or PSN (Playstation Network). I don’t know why that is, the games that I have played have been great fun and well worth the money paid for them. I guess I have always felt that these games where second rate compared to the AAA titles I normally play. What I can tell you, is that my view of the Downloadable games is quickly changing, especially with the line up of titles coming this summer. Like the game I am currently playing DeathSpank, the new release from Hothead games. It was released on July 13 for PSN and July 14 for XBLA. Read the next few paragraphs for my take on this XBLA and PSN title.
“Every path is paved with bacon” has got to be one of the best opening lines of a video game, especially for one slightly over weight journalist. Right off the bat you realize that this isn’t going to be your typical video game adventure, considering your heroes name is DeathSpank. DeathSpank is full of humorous and witty dialogue. (At times I found myself laughing out loud to some of the quotes.) The characters you meet along the way and the dialogue you have will keep you entertained throughout your time playing DeathSpank. DeathSpank is a Comedic Action Adventure RPG Brawler (So many ways to describe this game) liken to Monkey Island with a touch of Diablo with more customization. There are hundreds of pieces of armor and weapons to equip your hero with and at each level you are able to pick an attribute power up, ie. 10% more melee damage or all money dropped gives you 10% more. The story honestly brings nothing new to the genre, you are such and such hero, searching for such and such item, killing all who stand in your way, but the game is so fun that you honestly forget that there is a story.
Please noe that all button layouts will be for the Xbox 360 since that is the console I chose. DeathSpank was made so the casual gamer could pick up the cotroller and have fun, but that doesn’t mean that the game is easy or will not appeal to the hardcore gamer. The gameplay is a fast paced as it comes, you are constantly in the thick of it. The moment you think that you have cleared an area you turn the corner to be confronted with another large group of enemies leading up to the final confrontation with a boss battle. You have four attacks at your command. All your attacks are mapped to the controller face buttons, the X button controls your character’s left hand while the A button operates the right hand. The B button controls your hidden weapon the Y button is use for your power strike or as DeathSpank titles it “The Justice Weapon” which dishes out a blast to stun and damage all enemies in a given radius around DeathSpank; it also works your right hand when your Justice Weapon runs out. You are also giving a block command which was controlled using the right trigger on the Xbox 360 controller. Using the same weapons would get boring if you had to use them the whole game, luckily DeathSpank has hundreds of weapons to replace the intial weapons set. You can map any weapon to what ever face button you like, you can have 4 swords, or four axes if you want, it deosn’t mater.
DeathSpank can appear at first glance to be just a button masher, but if you follow this technique be prepared to respawn a lot. During combat you must be proficient is utilizing all the weapons you are given. At the beginning of the game you can become complacent at the ease at which enemies are destroyed, but as the game progresses you soon learn that death can come quick and usually does. When you die, you respawn at out houses that you unlock a long your journey, you can even use the out houses to teleport from one location to another by a means DeathSpank doesn’t care to talk about. Make sure during the combat you focus on your health meter located at the bottom of the screen it tends to drain quickly. DeathSpank collects healing potions and food that can be used for healing; while healing potions heal quickly and fill the health meter all the way, the food takes about 15 seconds to get the full affect and while you are eating the food if you are hit or attempt a strike you stop eating the food. So in other words if all you have is food to eat, retreat to eat the food then re-engage the combat. All together the gameplay is fast and fun you seem to always be in battle with the occasional stop along the way to gather information from non-player characters that progress the story or send you on a side quest . With all story missions and side quest you can look for 12-15 hours of gameplay based on skill level. .
Throughout DeathSpank you will gain experience points that cause you to level up, you gain the experience from killing enemies through out you journey. The enemies also drop items when they die like food, and money. You can also gather items fom treasure chest hidden through out the many areas in DeatSpank. While traversing the game world you will notice that there are no load times just seemless gameplay.
I did not spend much time with the Co-Op side of DeathSpank. The Co-Op consists of two player drop-in/drop-out co-op. The one thing that adds some spice to Co-Op is each player shares the same health bar.
DeathSpank is a very polished game graphically, now it is not an Uncharted 2 but for its style it is nearly perfect. The art style Death Spank utilizes is a cartoony approach. The sceneries are 2D and placed in a 3D world, The characters of DeathSpank are 3D models. The game is very colorful and bright, even when in darker areas of the game. The DeathSpank visuals are pulled off flawlessly. The cutscenes in the games are done in comic style 2D artwork.
This game has received a lot of hype and praise and at this point I have to agree with it. The one down side is that the story did not grab me like other games have, but like as I mentioned above, I was having so much fun playing that the story didn’t matter. (That’s what games are for anyway right?) To quote DeathSpank “If you buy only one game this year, you don’t buy enough games,” but if you do only buy one game or are on a budget I suggest you check out DeathSpank.