Developer: Hothead Games
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Platforms: XBLA, PSN
As punishing as its name implies
Equipped with an insatiable appetite for justice, and a booming voice paired with comic timing that injects urgency into the most throwaway of lines (“Greetings, taco wench!”), DeathSpank stands as game-designer Ron Gilbert’s first original creation since the Monkey Island series. DeathSpank is also pretty much The Tick, only clad in stat-increasing armor. Unfortunately, the rest of DeathSpank is just as disappointingly familiar—a Diablo clone with snappy writing is still just a Diablo clone. The heroic DeathSpank is on a quest to retrieve a MacGuffin called The Artifact, whose purpose isn’t clear, and along the way you’ll have to indulge dozens of villagers and at least one leprechaun on fetch quests to finally uncover it. The combat is repetitive and lacks nuance, which is at odds with the smart addition of an item grinder (which converts your unwanted inventory into gold) and the option to automatically equip the best armor a downed enemy drops. Curiously no such option exists for the four possible weapons you can wield in combat. Once the initial wave of charm from the rockabilly soundtrack and the winding dialog trees subsides, though, DeathSpank’s monotonous quests and combat makes playing feel like a perpetual chore.