DeathSpank Hands-On

As the dispenser of justice, we hack-and-slash our way through the colorful world of Ron Gilbert's upcoming Xbox Live Arcade game.

The last time we saw DeathSpank, Monkey Island creator Ron Gilbert was still at Hothead Games, working to make DeathSpank "the most awesome game ever and have it win a Nobel Prize." Now that he has left the company, EA has picked up the game and will publish it through the EA Partners program. Gilbert came by our office not only to give a demo of the game, but also to give us the reins to slaughter some chickens for ourselves and chat with a few of the crazy characters in this "Diablo meets Monkey Island" XBLA game.

As DeathSpank, you are a hero to the downtrodden, working hard to help people in need so that eventually you can obtain a precious artifact known as "The Artifact." It turns out that Heybenstance, a demon witch, has taken this artifact and sealed it away in the demon mines. The game starts off with you trying to convince the witch to help you retrieve the artifact, and along the way, you'll be sidetracked with random quests to fetch lips from chickens or pixie hair. Like Diablo, there's a lot of button mashing. You can also map any of the face buttons, as well as the D pad, to your arsenal of deadly weapons and delicious healing items. Non-player characters that you can interact with have a talking bubble over their heads, so anyone, including cows, can carry on a rather humorous conversation.

The part of the game that resembles Monkey Island has to do with the dialogue and the options you can choose whenever you start up a conversation. You'll likely take the time to pick all the different options just to hear what kind of oddball things the characters have to say. We started the game from the very beginning and spent the first few minutes fending off skeletons, as well as stoopid chickens. Silver treasure chests are littered throughout the world and hold useful items, but the gold chests require a key. Enemies are constantly dropping helpful items and there are plenty of barrels to smash for coins. You have a justice meter that is filled each time you take damage or deal it, and once it's full, you can unleash a special attack that is dependent on the weapon you're wielding. For example, your cleaver can do a powerful 360-degree strike, wiping out all the surrounding enemies. If you do happen to fall in battle, you'll respawn at the nearest outhouse with no penalty--other than the fact that you might need to do a bit of walking. The entire world is loaded when you start the game, so you don't have to deal with any loading times at all.

When you level, you get to choose from three hero cards that can boost your stats. You can hold up to six, so eventually you'll have to swap the skills around depending on your play style. This allows you to tweak your character based on how you play. Your menu keeps track of the important quests that you have been given, and they are the ones that advance the story. A log of your side missions is also available, and as you explore the various locations, you'll pick up fortune cookies, which can be used to give you hints for any quest. The way it works is that you use a fortune cookie to give you a vague hint on a particular quest. The more cookies you spend (around three or four), the better the hint gets. Eventually, they'll basically tell you exactly what you need to do.

Likely not the strangest thing you'll come across in DeathSpank.

DeathSpank looks a lot more vibrant and rich since the last time we saw it. And the last time we spoke with Gilbert, he mentioned that it could take anywhere from 15 to 20 hours to complete. The game is expected to come out on Xbox Live Arcade and the PlayStation Network sometime this summer.

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Discussion

32 comments
peetowser
peetowser

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

gobig4ever
gobig4ever

it kind of reminds me of torchlight

CaptainAhab13
CaptainAhab13

I can't wait for this game. It looks innovative, and very creative. I really support these types of games vs. blockbuster games such as MW 2 and Halo (even though I love games like Halo and Oblivion). Sure hope this is worth the $15 they are charging. Who knows? This could garner 90% ratings across the board. Here's hoping! :)

mrsniper83
mrsniper83

This looks fun, can't wait to download it and see whats in store for me.

Wam11
Wam11

really liken the level design. the way it moves as you make your way through it. not really innovative action but it is arcade. ill probly get addicted to the demo. but it would have to pull a miracle for me to buy

SOULCALIBUR33
SOULCALIBUR33

Boring... I want a sequel of Shadow of memory instead... on ps3!

panospcm
panospcm

oh come on! This game has "pc version" written all over it... please Hothead.. make it happen. I know Gilbert wants it... Afterall, you said it yourselves, "Diablo meets Monkey Island"... why cut off pc users like that? cheap shot...

bennae66
bennae66

800 pts would be nice. 1200? it better be bloody good

damnet
damnet

looks great, if it's like 15 bucks it'll be a hell of a deal I think, though it seems it could be in a higher price range.

SavoyPrime
SavoyPrime

I didn't know much about this game until now. Looks fun, so I'll be keeping track of it.

P8rt
P8rt

This looks good.I can play this while I wait in vain for a console version of Torchlight.

ReaversRevenge
ReaversRevenge

remake Populus the beginning, thats what i say.....

jeff_hatt
jeff_hatt

Did his 10-year-old son think of the name?

Pipboy360
Pipboy360

Man I can't wait for this game, and it should be a bargain if it's on PSN. I wish they could narrow the release window a bit more than "Summer"

mxgod
mxgod

Looks alright, problem with these types of games is they tend to always make them too easy with no way to make it harder

Muisee
Muisee

Looks surprisingly good. Add online and character customization and its definitely a buy.

Kaeban
Kaeban

I like this game, it looks simple but i bet its better than sacred 2 :D

sneakyoddjob
sneakyoddjob

Looks like it will last a whole lot longer than most of the rip-offs being sold on XBLA and the PSN at the moment...

stevew2607
stevew2607

Very excited for this. I love action rpgs on consoles! I wonder what the cost will be? I am betting $20.00.

Jhraxlin
Jhraxlin

That voice acting sounds frikkin annoying! Other than that it looks cool.

publicgamer
publicgamer

totally going to buy this the day of release.

Nodashi
Nodashi

Yeah, looks good and sounds fun. I'll grab it.

wahyudil
wahyudil

funny rpg ... I'm sold ...

Barighm
Barighm

They had me at "Diablo'like"

box0rocks
box0rocks

looks great but kinda sad pc version was caned :(

Frunzo
Frunzo

this game looks really good

BeardInTheFace
BeardInTheFace

man, the buttons are on the face buttons this game sounds FANTAAASTIC

Miik
Miik

Saw this awhile back in Games tm and it looks even better now!

Stressthesky
Stressthesky

Monkey Island is my favourite game series ever, and I remember wasting many hours on the first Diablo, so this one is a sure sell. Will pick it up day one. Hopefully we'll hear more from Gilbert in the future.