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DeathSpank (PlayStation 3) artwork

DeathSpank (PlayStation 3) review


"The sound of cold steel slicing through a demon's rough hide... The jangle of cash as it materializes in the vicinity of your enemy's corpse... The glory of a well-placed post-battle quip... and who can forget Justice! They're equal parts of what make DeathSpank an exhilarating action-RPG, one that boasts a generous amount of humor, action, and side quests."



The sound of cold steel slicing through a demon's rough hide... The jangle of cash as it materializes in the vicinity of your enemy's corpse... The glory of a well-placed post-battle quip... and who can forget Justice! They're equal parts of what make DeathSpank an exhilarating action-RPG, one that boasts a generous amount of humor, action, and side quests.

Bear in mind that when I say 'exhilarating' I don't mean 'complex.' DeathSpank utilizes simple button-mashing gameplay that you would expect from any Diablo-inspired title. Is that a yawn I hear? DeathSpank gives you the option to mash buttons, but a true dispenser of justice does not rely on only one weapon! You can equip up to four weapons, one for each button, and alternate between them to build up a combo meter. The more combos you rack up, the faster your 'Justice Meter' fills up, allowing you punish evil with devastating blows when full. Standard weapon blows become life-ending wallops. For instance, a simple bop from a hammer becomes a shockwave-summoning blast that sends enemies flying.

Annihilating the forces of darkness begets rewards. What Diablo clone is complete without looting and customization? Enemies drop all manner of goods, from weapons to food items. You'll find loads of different weapons to experiment with, pieces of armor to try on, and magical items that rain fire down on your opponents or call for the undead. Yes, you too can bury your fire axe into the skull of a ghoul while happily munching on nachos, only to summon a legion of vicious chickens fired from a bazooka. The loot you nab is not only useful in battle, but also adds to the amusing atmosphere.

But DeathSpank is not a man of random violence. As a warrior of justice, he's also obligated to fulfill altruistic tasks for the downtrodden. Between delivering packages all over the world, he's known to slaughter evil chickens to harvest their lips, decimate ravenous marsh donkeys to help build a golf course, and even help a struggling farmer win a competition by snatching up rare rainbow-colored unicorn manure.

Many of the quest are mindless and simple, yet can be done so quickly that they don't slow the pace. Some of them are even challenging, thrusting you into battle with humongous ogre-like creatures called pips or battling a colossal genetic freak. Others require the use of brain power. Many such quests require you to combine items, but the challenge lies in figuring out which items to combine. A dwarf will beg you for a spicy taco, an object outlawed by the local taco vendor after a lawsuit. You can obtain a regular taco, but how to spice it up requires a bit of logic and examination.

DeathSpank is not above accepting even the most asinine of quests, even though we wish he wouldn't. He's too often used to fetch items, even some that are mere feet away, and we're led to wonder if such contrived tasks weren't put there as padding.

However, even the most contrived and simple quests are filled with DeathSpank's own brand of witty humor. Our hero, like a cross between The Tick and Zapp Brannagan, serves up memorable quotes and witty one-liners. While initiating a quest, a man named Pippin Apple asks DeathSpank to rescue his brother, Red Delicious. DeathSpank responds with: "Is that your brother's real name or his stripper name?" It doesn't stop at quotes. Humor is this entire world's culture. When you're not literally beating the crap out of demons with a 'demon poop hammer', you're rescuing lost orphans. By 'rescuing', I mean 'collecting'; and by 'collecting', I mean 'tossing them into a burlap sack with holes cut in it so they can breathe'. Without the humor, we'd have just another Diablo clone.

Perhaps the developers at Hothead realized how hackneyed Diablo clones have become. They needed something that would elevate DeathSpank above the sea of cliche click-'n-kill titles. They knew that style could never replace substance, so fused their own style with substance already proven to be effective. What you have in the end is a title that stands on its own. DeathSpank sports fittingly cartoony visuals to compliment its sense of humor. Everything down to the animation feels carefully planned. DeathSpank seems to dance to the music as he walks. The screen doesn't so much scroll as roll, as if you're always walking up a hill. Little touches like these give an RPG flavor and help separate it from the rest of the titles in its subgenre. Kudos to Hothead for crafting an addictive and humorous title.

Rating: 8/10

JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Freelance review by Joseph Shaffer (October 21, 2011)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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SamildanachEmrys posted October 21, 2011:

Nice review. I disagree, but that's not your fault. :p

Oh, also: "we're lead to wonder" should be "we're led to wonder". Lead is a metal.
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honestgamer posted October 21, 2011:

Good catch, Sam! I've fixed the review on Joe's behalf. I should have caught that one in editing, but it was late and my brain was fried from all the writing I did yesterday. As for the content of the review, this definitely made me want to play it. I like the sound of the mix of polished, classic gameplay and humor. Seems like it would be a neat experience (though I've heard less favorable things about the expanded content that was later added through Thongs of Virtue).
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JoeTheDestroyer posted October 21, 2011:

Good catch, Sam.

I liked ToV, but not as much as the original. Mainly, if felt more linear and didn't expand almost at all on the original concept, but was still enjoyable if you like loot-based RPGs.

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