Oh DeathSpank – I’m so glad you were one of my first PS3 games. I’d have to describe the game as a guilty pleasure. You can sit and play for a few minutes to complete an unimportant side quest like finding a sock puppet friend for a talking tree, or for hours stuffing kidnapped orphans into a sack.
DeathSpank is about a warrior who also happens to be named DeathSpank. Long ago, he was told that he would come to acquire the Artifact, an artifact of immense power. So he trained and dedicated his life to delivering justice and finding the Artifact so he could be a hero. The game begins with DeathSpank visiting the demon witch Heybenstance so he can learn the Artifact’s location and begin his journey to find it. A journey where he’ll find kidnapped orphans and eventually defeat Lord Von Prong.
A common theme in DeathSpank is excess. There are more weapons than you’ll ever need in two playthroughs. Jokes and one-liners litter the area. There are tons of unessential dialogue options available with NPCs. Not to mention there are oodles of side quests, just in case you want to deal out some extra justice for fun and profit.
Background characters in Deathspank have personalities that (almost) steal the show. I’ve got a fondness for all of the orphan characters, especially precocious little Annie and her long list of desires DeathSpank must provide before she’ll get in the orphan bag. But she’s not the only one. Characters like Eubrick, the orques and even ordinary NPCs like the fisherman you encounter early on are defined individuals. Oh, and the Wise Cow. You can’t forget the Wise Cow – his depth and knowledge is astonishing.
I’d have to say that the most important part of DeathSpank is the incredible script. The dialogue between characters, the names of weapons, quests and items and even the sign posts are what make DeathSpank most memorable and stand out. What’s more endearing to choose to have DeathSpank say something like, "Get in the bag, future criminal." to an orphan he’s just rescued? Nothing. Except for maybe a bit of unicorn.
At times, I did find DeathSpank battles to be a bit unbalanced. For example, I found the Nanny Demon boss to be a much more difficult boss than Sergeant Orque, and yet Sergeant Orque’s battle comes later. The gigantic Pip in the Pip Ravaged Village (which you must defeat to complete the Miss My Brother for Pippen Apple quest) was more difficult than Sergeant Orque as well, and that was only a side quest monster. It made me wonder if, perhaps, Hothead Games made the Sergeant Orque battle easier so people would have an easier time earning the "The Day the Music Died" trophy.
There’s only one thing I could have wanted that would have made DeathSpank perfect for me – a map. Any kind of map. Perhaps I just missed it and glossed over it, since I tend to just jump in and enjoy an adventure, but a feature like that would have helped. Yes, there are outhouses all over the place so you can teleport to important areas, but I would have liked to have been able to push a button and bring up a map of the world so I could see where I’m going. As it was, I’d have to find the nearest outhouse to get an idea of what direction I should head in after returning to the game each day.
Anyone with a sense of humor and a PS3 (or Xbox 360, but I played the PS3 version) should own DeathSpank. Or, at the very least, try out the demo. It’s absolutely worth it. It’s a game that comes bearing only joy. There’s no grief when you die, though it can be inconvenient sometimes. There are tons of enemies, some challenging and some pesky. And you could easily waste an hour going around and talking to available NPCs, choosing the optional dialogue responses to see what hysterical quips they’re waiting to slip into the conversation.
Food for Thought
- When in doubt, follow the path. It’ll usually lead you right where you need to go next.
- There’s some awesome voice acting here. It’s really well done and the line delivery often makes things sound even funnier.
- The side quests aren’t really optional. You really do need that sweet, sweet experience they give DeathSpank so you can have the levels necessary to deliver justice to certain enemies.
- Start grabbing any tin cans you see early on – you’ll need 50 of them for a side quest later.
- If you have a second controller, a friend can join in and help fight as Sparkles the Wizard.