DeathSpank First Impressions

Ron Gilbert walks us through a demo of his "Monkey Island meets Diablo" hybrid action adventure.

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Described as Monkey Island meets Diablo, DeathSpank is Ron Gilbert's latest creation that blends two genres together in a game that incorporates best of both worlds. With the wacky humor that you'd expect from the Monkey Island creator, and the never-gets-old hack-and-slash gameplay from Diablo, DeathSpank looks to be a fun action adventure, where you can cleave through skeletons for coins and still take a moment to engage in a random conversation with a crazy old man who wants a spicy taco.

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Who's Making This Game: Hothead Games is designing the game and has yet to announce a publisher or a platform that the game will be playable on.

What The Game Looks Like: In our meeting with Ron, he talked about how much he liked 2D art and that it had a certain charm that 3D art lacked. Because he also wanted the exploration element that a 3D world offers, DeathSpank is an interesting mix of the two. The world is in 3D, but all the objects within, like chicken coops, houses, trees, and fences, are all distinctly 2D. This gives the game a unique feel because it kind of looks like you are wandering through a watercolor pop-up book.

What There Is To Do: In terms of the story, we were told that we don't learn too much about DeathSpank initially, because he also doesn't really know who he is. He's a traveler who is a "vanquisher of evil." He's searching for a rare artifact known as "the Artifact," and once he has it, he manages to get mugged. His goal is to get it back, and while he's doing that, the larger story begins to unfold. Like in a traditional action role-playing game, you'll wander across the land, talk to locals, and pick up random quests to get more experience and track down your lost artifact.

How The Game Is Played: The Diablo portion of the game is very much a button masher. You can map anything to the D pad and face buttons of the controller to give yourself easy access to your arsenal of weapons. There's something for every occasion. In our demo we watched as DeathSpank used a lightning area attack, which stunned all the skeletons around him. Once they recovered, they went after him, and because he was armed with a cleaving weapon (which can attack multiple foes at a time), DeathSpank left nothing but a pile of bones in his wake. There are more than 100 weapons and armors to collect, and we were told that the adventure could take anywhere from 15 to 20 hours to complete.

The Monkey Island portion involves talking to quirky people and going through the dialogue choices to experience all the great lines. After talking to Eubrick, we got some flashbacks of Herman Toothrot, the crazy old hermit from Monkey Island. One of the quests involves helping the mayor find kidnapped orphans, but before the mayor would accept our help, we had to get a weapon from Eubrick. However, Eubrick is only willing to hand over the sword if he can trade it for a taco--an extra spicy one. Apparently a taco wagon a ways back would have solved this dilemma, but we would also need to find a way to add some heat to this Mexican dish.

Our demo took us through haunted forests, demon mines, catacombs, and even a pirate village. You can dress DeathSpank up as a pirate by breaking open the barrels found in Scurvyville. We watched as DeathSpank donned some heavy-duty shoulder pads with colorful parrots to top it off. We took a quick glance at the map of the entire world and it looked huge. We were told that you have to load only once and that as soon as you're in the game, you will never have to wait to enter another area. Outhouses scattered throughout the world act as checkpoints in case you die and need to come back. There is also a pirate ship, which you can board and sail off in to search for hidden islands and other good stuff.

What They Say: It's Monkey Island meets Diablo.

What We Say: We really liked the idea of marrying the action combat from Diablo and the adventure elements from Monkey Island and can't wait for an opportunity to play the game for ourselves. The charming art style and funny dialogue captured our attention, and if you're looking for something that is more than just a point-and-click adventure, then stay tuned for more information. There is no release date yet or an announced platform, but we were told to expect the game sometime in 2010.

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