I was a little late on grabbing DeathSpank until I heard it was made by Monkey Island co-creator Ron Gilbert. Then it all sort of made sense. The game is a parody of Diablo like adventure games, an over the top take on collecting loot and hacking and slashing enemies with a hero that reminds me a lot of the Tick. Our dense hero is on an epic quest to right all wrongs and slay evil. An annoying woman tells him to quest for an Artifact and with that, he is off! The quests don’t make sense, yet everything is perfectly acceptable in this upside down adventure world. Anyone who has played any “serious” role playing games will find humor in the genre mocking itself, while providing a very solid gaming experience.

You run around a story book world that is seamless (no loading screens) and complete a majority of quests that include standard fetch quests, kill somebody quests and the welcomed solve puzzles using items, the world and your heroic noggin quests. One quest requires you to replace a cog, but the only thing you find is a wooden ship wheel, which DeathSpank notes would look just like a cog if you could remove the wood. You must then find something in the world that eats wood to solve the quest. If you get really stuck, you can always use a fortune cookie to get help. The quest are varied and like the fully voice dialog, often very funny.

In between talking to people and solving problems is the core of the game, the real time combat. With a weapon assigned to each main button, you can easily mash, bash, slice, shoot and stab the enemies and chickens of the world. Some weapons (marked in purple) have special powers that you can activate when your “justice meter” is filled. You can find hundreds of weapons and items to use and even more when you count armor sets, trinkets and rings to boost your stats. The game is vastly simplified (often to increase fun) and allows you to automatically equip the best armor, quickly assign items to the directional pad and “grind” items up for gold when you are running out of space. DeathSpank actually does a lot right when it comes to action RPG gaming, but it also does a few things wrong.

The lack of a real co-op mode is pointed out oddly by the inclusion of a co-op mode that allows a second (local only) player to play as a strange wizard looking dude. He has a name, but they didn’t bother to give him an inventory or even a health bar, so I didn’t bother to remember it. He’s basically Tails in Sonic 2, give him to your girlfriend or little brother and hope they don’t notice he doesn’t actually do anything. The game also has a strange issue with the auto-aim and precision combat. I found myself aiming at treasure chests and not targeting enemies near me when I wanted to. The manual aim helps, but often a swarm is hard to navigate (and see, the screen gets really busy/dark at times) and you end up having to unselect the dangerous sign post and go back to killing the mob.

That said, this title is an amazing breath of fresh air and completely worth the 1200 points (14.99 on PSN). In a rather EA like move, the sequel was planned during the first title, and will be releasing next month. I would be rather upset, but the first title was a good solid length that is fun and the sequel promises to add even more adventure, comedy any mad loot.

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