Deathspank Review

Ron Gilbert is a name which is synonymous with the Monkey Island series so if you're a fan of the Monkey Island series (like me) you'd obviously get quite excited when you hear that after a long hiatus, Ron Gilbert has made a new game! Deathspank is this new game and I first reported about this game quite awhile ago (one of my blog's earliest posts). Actually, when I say new, I should probably say "new" as (1) it's taken me awhile to get to the stage where I can write a review and (2) the game was actually released earlier on the console than on the PC. There was even a time where PC players were a bit anxious on the fate of Deathspank - whether it was going to be another dreaded console-only release *cough* Fable 3 *cough*. Thankfully, somebody had some sense to bring it to the PC.

Sound (4/5)
No complaints in the audio department. Nothing to brag about but there's some entertaining voice acting and you get a plethora of cartoony sound effects to complement this cartoony game.

Music (4/5)
The music in this game isn't exceptional but it's pretty good (for surfie/60s rock, yes you'll find out this game is really strange). Another nice touch is that the music changes depending on whether you're in combat or not.

Graphics (4/5)
The graphics in this game are rather basic and not its strong point, although I find the cardboad cut-out, cartoon style endearing. It serves its purpose.

Plot (4/5)
The plot is an amusing one and it often involves breaking the fourth-wall and the use of anachronisms. Sometimes the plot is just plain weird (you are after all a hero wearing a visible purple thong) yet it still manages to be a fun game.

You are Deathspank, an archetypical hero vanquishing evil . Your arch nemesis is a character called Lord von Prong that has kidnapped some orphans from the village of Pluckmuckel. Your main objective is to defeat Lord von Prong and retrieve "the Artifact". Along the way you'll meet a whole bunch of other colourful characters that can give you side quests and they're usually fun distractions.

The only downside I can see with the plot in this game is that you're only given half the story. Ron Gilbert has actually mentioned this before, saying that it was his original intent to have Deathspank as one large game but thought it better to split it into two. Not quite sure why this was done but maybe it was due to pressure from marketing as it would've been harder to justify selling a $50+ indie game. These way punters can be teased into purchasing the rest while being able to afford the first chapter.

Gameplay (3/5)
The game is pretty much a rip-off of the hack 'n' slash genre, especially games like Diablo and its clones. This is probably the only downside for me. I mean Diablo can be a pretty addictive game but hack 'n' slash can also be monotonous, especially when you don't have any super-duper powers which you don't have in DeathSpank (special abilities tend to be related to items and weapons you collect instead).

Luckily, the game is a bit more than that and the game is actually just a device in order to tell Ron Gilbert's story. You get more in-depth conversation trees than your average hack 'n' slash RPG and you even get some puzzle solving, including manipulation of inventory items. You're probably going, "wait a minute, those are elements from point 'n' click adventures" and you'd be right - these are definitely a legacy of the games that Ron Gilbert used to work with. Unfortunately, the genre isn't as popular as it used to be and perhaps that's why this adventure game in RPG's clothing was developed.

Replayability (3/5)
There is co-op (that I've never used since it's on the same computer) but it's a nice addition that would add some replayability if utilised. You could also hunt for achievements and high scores, if you wish, thanks to its integration with Steam. Besides that there's not much replayability except for the funny dialogue :).

Deathspank is a pretty well polished game - only occasionally getting crashes to desktop. Some of the menus can be a bit fiddly too; for example I somehow can't seem to scroll down when viewing the quest log which means I can't see what quests I have to do (at least when using a mouse) but using the keyboard quickly rectifies that.

Overall - 7/10
A great return to form by Ron Gilbert - although a traditional point 'n' click adventure game which included the whole story would've been better in my opinion. Will it be enough to tempt me to purchase the sequel? I'd have to say, yes.

If you want to get the game, you can get it off Steam.