So this review is a bit on the late side as the second half of Deathspank’s adventure has already been released on Xbox Live. This review still holds merit though, as Deathspank is one of the best written RPG’s released this year. I know this because I was talking to my friend Brian about the game awhile ago and the conversation quickly evolved into a quote war of lines from the game.
This is the first time that has happened to me. Sure I’ve had long discussions about action sequences or set pieces in a game but I’ve never been in a situation where we quoted dialog from the game back and forth like you would from a movie. This is a major credit to the writing of Ron Gilbert (who you should remember from classics like Maniac Mansion and the Monkey’s Island games).
The titular hero of Deathspank is a nice guy who had dedicated himself to “Truth, Justice, and Bacon”. In a way, Deathspank is to video game heroes what The Tick is to Superheroes, which makes sense as Deathspank was created as a massive parody of the video game hero archetype.
At the start of the game Deathspank is close to fulfilling his life long quest to acquire “The Artifact”, a magical item which he simply must acquire. After finally getting the item, he’s ambushed by the minions of the evil Lord Von Prong who take the artifact back to their lord and master. This leaves Deathspank a bit high and dry as he must now re-acquire the item.
You’re never really told what the artifact does or what it does; it just serves as a MacGuffin to advance the plot of the game. After losing it, you will spend the next five to eight hours of game time trying to reclaim the Artifact. This includes rescuing orphans, slaying a lot of monsters, and consuming large quantities of junk food (which serves as health potions).
There’s a part of me that wants to call Deathspank an entry level RPG game but the problem with that is that those new to the genre won’t get the in-jokes. Instead let’s call it a streamlined RPG, as the game trims down the RPG experience to make things easier to get into and enjoy.
The first is that you can have the game automatically equip the best armor you have in your inventory. This eliminates the constant switches to the inventory screen to see if the latest thing you picked up is better than what you have already.
The second is that there are several “Lost and Found” bins scattered around the game which will house any important quest items you don’t pick up. This eliminates the need to scour the landscape and retrace your steps if you fail to pick up an important quest item.
Finally excess equipment can be ground into gold, eliminating long walks to the town weapons and armor guy to sell the extra stuff you don’t need.
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