DeathSpank is a comic take of the RPG (Role Playing Game) genre from the wonderfully twisted mind of Ron Gilbert, of Monkey Island fame. The quests and conversations are usually silly, often trivial and almost always humorous. The weapons, potions and armour have equally humorous names. The world is depicted as 2D props on a 3D “rolling log” world, that I first saw in Animal Crossing: Wild World. At it’s heart, though, it’s still an RPG. Weapons can do X damage, armour can absorb Y damage, you use potions for health, armour boosts and so on.
With that introduction out of the way, I can say that second instalment of DeathSpank, “Thongs of Virtue” (Hereinafter referred to as DS:TOV), is more of the same. The world has changed, being even more anachronistic as it’s now set during parallels of various wars fought this century. The weapons are a similarly anachronistic mix of swords, guns, grenades and mysical powers. The armour is still silly, and thematically gives nods to Hollywood’s view of war as much as to any ‘real war’. There’s still magic, potions, the undead and other supernatural parts to the world.
I think the humour and fourth wall breakage of the conversations and cutscenes have gone up a notch. At the very least I’m chuckling and laughing a lot more than I did at the original DeathSpank.
The gameplay hasn’t changed much from the original; which I regard as a point in its favour. Some new enemies, and a remix of some old ones, means some new strategies have to be learned, which add a freshness. However all of what made the original fun is still there.
Many of the original side quest characters, such as the Spelunker and Thongolith Researcher, make a reappearance; it’s not overwhelemed with older characters though. Most of the characters you interact with in DS:TOV are new, most being various war related stereotypes turned up to 11. Or maybe 11.5.
My original (some might say “minor”) niggles remain: You can’t pause during cut-scenes/conversations, nor can you pause from the time DeathSpank dies to when he’s resurrected. Given these are the times I’ll usually pause to attend to that dreaded “RL” thing, then this is more than a little irritating. It also tends to break the immersion somewhat even when I don’t want to pause the game, as you have to watch the ‘resurrection’ cutscene every single time without being able to skip it. The game also judders and suffers slowdowns at times, such as when there’s lots of fire, smoke and weapon fire happening – usually the worst time for this to happen. I’ve got no idea if this is related to me running the ‘360 in 1080i mode or not.
Those problems aside, I’m having a lot of fun with DS:TOV. It’s enough of an RPG to for that part of me to enjoy it, but it’s not so hardcore that I get bored with the combat, or stats juggling.
One thing I’m still not certain of is the price. The original was 1200 points, as in this episode. While this is presented as a new game, it gives the impression of being … well … another episode, rather than being a full new game. I’m not saying it’s not worth 1200 points, but I’m not sure if I could convince someone that it is. Perhaps I’ll be more convincing after I’ve played more.
Speaking of playing more: I’ll probably add more thoughts once I’ve spent more time with it – after all, DeathSpank is currently only level 5.