karohemd: by LJ user gothindulgence (Gaming)
I'd heard from various people that DeathSpank was a fun game. Diablo-style Hack'n'Slash RPGs aren't usually my thing but when it was in the Steam sale for little money (even now it's only 9.99), I thought I'd give it a try and I enjoyed it so much that I immediately bought the sequel while it was still on sale (which I started last night).
You're playing DeathSpank, the heroic Dispenser of Justice, a slightly dim Warrior type who lopes through the countryside in his quest for The Artifact. You control the character either by clicking the mouse where you want to go or using the WASD keys. The interface has a typical HUD for Health and Justice meter, equipped weapons and items. The characters and world are 3D but all the features (trees, bushes, houses etc.) are 2D.

It sounds pretty run-off-the-mill but what makes this game are the dialogues which are more akin to those from adventure games (and not surprising as the designer of Secret of Monkey Island worked on it) and there are even a couple of quests that can be solved entirely by talking to people. The voices are great, too, especially of the main character (this vid should give you an idea). The music is pleasant and earwormy and can be downloaded for free from the website.

The special feature of the game is the weapon sets between which you can flip with the TAB key (or whatever the equivalent is on the controller) and if you do it right, you gain more power with each flip. I never got this working properly (I think my best was 3x when the maximum is 7x) but I did OK.
Then there are weapons that have special powers when the Justice meter is full (each successful normal attack fills it a bit) that either work on their own (like the spinning blades, which are really useful when you're facing a horde of enemies) or when you have a certain combination of weapons and/or items equipped.
Health power-ups are in the form of food items which take a certain time to consume so can't be used in combat and potions which work instantly but are a lot rarer.
Strewn about the countryside are barrels which usually contain money and often food and treasure chests which contain more money/food or potions/items. Gold treasure chests contain better items/weapons/armour but you need a key for those which you often receive as Quest rewards or are dropped by major monsters.
Slain critters will also drop money/food/items.
Occasionally you'll find vendors who sell weapons/armour/food/potions etc. but I rarely had to buy anything and my money never ran out. You can also generate money by putting your unneeded inventory items through a grinder.
As you advance through the game and up levels (max is 20), the opponents become harder but never excessively so and they come with handy level indicators so you know if you can take them on or not.

There are three main plot quests (find The Artifact, rescue orphans and defeat the bad guy) and a large number of side quests given by various NPCs. You don't have to do those but they help with items (getting the Soul Killer blade is really helpful for fighting ghosts, for example) and of course XP/level advancement.

Another great feature of the game are the "Outhouses" which you can use to teleport from location to location so even if a collection quest sends you back and forth across the world, there is no endless drudging through the environment fighting off monsters just to get to the next quest location.

Also a nice touch are the cutscenes which are really nicely done retro style cartoony sequences.

When you've defeated the bad guy at the end and the credits have rolled you can go back and continue to roam the world to pick up all the side quests you missed or skipped.

So, if you want a laugh and have some fun in a rather stylish environment, enjoy witty dialogues with lots of innuendo, fancy a giggle over inventively named items and weapons (Gilded Chestpiece of Bling etc.) and don't want to drudge endlessly through hordes of monsters just to get to the next level, this game is for you.
It's not for you if you want a complex, customisable attribute/skill system (there isn't one), a real challenge when fighting monsters or solving quests and the latest graphics technologies (it should run on a pretty basic system).

The sequel, "Thongs of Virtue" has a more modern feel with firearms etc. but the controls and tactics are exactly the same. One thing I noticed already is that there seem to be more bosses. There was quite a hard one as the end opponent before you can escape the POW camp. I died a few times before I found the right tactic but still had to use a lot of potions (thankfully, there was a handy first aid station that dispensed free ones).

April 2016

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