Ron Gilbert is well known as the genius behind Maniac Mansion and the first two Monkey Island games. Just this past month, we saw the arrival of his latest games, DeathSpank and DeathSpank: Thongs of Virtue on the Mac. At long last, we Mac users get to experience Ron and Hothead Games‘
lovechild brainchild. Touted as a mix between Monkey Island and Diablo, DeathSpank is an action RPG based around the dimwitted, but lovable, titular character. In this article, I’ll review the first game, but I’ll leave Thongs of Virtue for a later post.
I really like this game, but I have one major complaint that I’ll get out of the way up front. This game requires A LOT of grinding. You need to kill a lot of nameless, faceless baddies to get your character strong enough to continue the story without getting stomped immediately. Grinding is very boring and time consuming, but it’s worth it to get to experience the rest of the game. I love complaining, but it’s really not a show stopper. It just grates on me after about thirty minutes or so.
Outside of that, the game is wonderful. I’d like to take a moment to point out the beautiful game world that loads seamlessly without any pauses. It truly is a feat of engineering, and I appreciate it immensely. Much like Braid, this game doesn’t have canonical beauty, but a charm unique to itself. The artwork really vibrates on my frequency.
I think it goes without saying that the absolutely strongest aspect of DeathSpank is the writing. Ron and the Hothead team were truly able to make the dialogue and story laugh-out-loud funny without making the entire game feel like a joke. There are times when I was drawn into the game, and felt very action hero-y, but a moment later, I was smirking as DeathSpank was being scolded by a particular redheaded lady. I’m impressed.
The controls are very good, but I have to admit the default keyboard layout needed a little bit of tweaking. DeathSpank is controlled by WASD, but the Q and E keys bring up menus. During an intense battle, my fingers often slip. Luckily, changing the key positions is easy as pie in the game settings, so there is nothing to worry about.
In sum, go check it out on Steam. DeathSpank is available for a mere $15.00 USD, and it works on both Windows and OS X. This really is great stuff, and you need to remember to stay subscribed to our feed for my review of the DeathSpank sequel.