Monday, August 9, 2010

DeathSpank...finished!

I finally completed DeathSpank over the weekend, with 100% in trophies to boot. I think DeathSpank falls in a category of those people who are fans of the creator, much like how Brutal Legend was great for those that were fans of Tim Schafer and his works. Players who enjoyed Ron Gilbert’s Monkey Island series and humor will enjoy the wit that gets tossed around in DeathSpank.

As fun and enjoyable the game was, there were, however, large amounts of grinding and item gathering. And while the humor was great, they were nestled in small morsels mostly at the beginning and near the end, leaving the entire game in the middle almost devoid of any elaborate humor. I had an awesome time in the beginning and end with lengthy random conversations with the NPCs, but the people in-between had little or nothing to say to keep the humor mill running.

The gameplay was also a bit unbalanced overall. While there were plenty of weapons to equip and use, all you really need is a good melee weapon, one or two weapons with special powers, and a really good crossbow. Sadly, most of my battles were spent doing ranged attacks at a safe distance. And even if I received damage, the food system was so terribly broken that I never really found a need to use potions, except during boss battles when I don’t have 8 seconds to consume food.

The game does give you a variety of weapons to use, and tries to enforce level restrictions and elemental improvements for its usage. But the hero cards that allow you to use equipment 1-2 levels higher than your current level defeat the former, and any stronger melee damage defeats the latter. And the only indicator you have that any elemental weapon is NOT working is the word “resist” above the enemy only AFTER you attack. The game could have used some enemy log to keep track of weaknesses or something.

The special runes are probably the most underrated items used in the game. They grant players to combine the use of two special weapons used at the same time for a greater combined effect. But, with an inventory system largely focused on a visual format, the runes surprisingly come with text descriptions on what to use.

Don’t forget that this is a Ron Gilbert game, and nothing would be complete without any puzzle-solving elements. Sadly, this felt a little lacking – almost like a half-finished Monkey Island game. I had items in my inventory that I almost NEVER used, making me wonder if I had truly finished all of the side quests. And believe me, I completed a HEFTY amount of them.

Despite my gripes with the game, the battles were solid and fun, and who doesn’t like going around taking out swarms of enemies at once? For a $15 experience, I think it would’ve been a better value at $10. But, considering it has been about 15 days since I bought the game, it was worth the $1-per-day to enjoy the game for what it’s worth.
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