Game Design legend Ron “Monkey Island“ Gilbert sends his Hero to the Downtrodden off into battle, armed with a magical thong and the intellect of a common squirrel. And delivers one of the best comedies in gaming history. Again.
Note: This game review focuses on the use of writing in video games.
Does the world need yet another Diablo-based game that sends you slashing monsters and collecting loot for no other reason than the joy of breaking necks and barrels? Indeed it does.
DeathSpank and it’s sequel DeathSpank: Thongs of Virtue don’t really change the gameplay formula of other Diablo-like titles, but every inch of this game is infused with wicked humour, from the world design to each and every piece of inventory. Grab your chicken cannon, head to the French city of Poque Latete and let the vanquishing of evil begin!
„This kid takes out the fun out of orphan.“ Lines likes this are what keep the simple gameplay of DeathSpank and its sequel from becoming repetitive. The designers of the game show a tremendous work of consistency, when it comes to taking the piss out of every aspect of their own game.
The buildings and plants in DeathSpank are two-dimensional facades, like in a cheap Western. Be it the Chestpiece of Terrible Intent or the Helmet of Pointyness, every piece of inventory comes with a few lines of delightfully insane descriptions. Missions include hammering donkeys until they poop or fixing the marriage of a manure-obsessed farmer.
DeathSpank succeeds where Bard’s Tale (2004) – though quite a funny game too – didn’t, because its developers are aware of the fact that there is no depth to be found in a classic dungeon crawler. Occasional jokes about the senselessness of looting yet another cave and dialogues like
DeathSpank: Greetings, random non-player character.
NPC: Oh, hey there protagonist.
put a smile on every veteran gamer’s face.
The concept behind DeathSpank is simple and will hopefully be copied by other developers in the future: take an established gameplay concept and spice it up with good writing and voice acting.
Dungeon crawler fans are eagerly awaiting the release of Blizzard’s Diablo III. Will it be more fun than DeathSpank? I dare doubt it:
Witch: No need for introductions DeathSpank, I know who you are.
DeathSpank: If you know me so well, what’s my favourite color?
DeathSpank: Lots of people like Plaid, lets try something a bit harder.
What number am I thinking of?
DeathSpank: Okay…..that is just eerie.”
Will Diablo III provide the most polished hack-and-looting ever to break a barrel? It’s Blizzard after all, I expect nothing less. We’ll keep you posted.