If you didn’t get a chance to attend this year’s PAX event, you missed out on a few interesting pieces of information, including Ron Gilbert’s presentation of his new quirky adventure, DeathSpank. If you’re not familiar, Gilbert is the guy who was responsible for the popular and critically acclaimed Monkey Island titles, and let’s not forget about the lesser known yet still appealing Maniac Mansion. For those of you who have been grieving over the demise of the pure “Adventure” genre, you have likely played and enjoyed Gilbert’s brainchilds before, and you’ll definitely want to give DeathSpank a try. It will undoubtedly feature that patented Gilbert flair; lots of genuinely hilarious jokes and puns, plus an overall atmosphere and attitude that is specifically designed to put a smile on the face of the player. Heck, just taking a gander at the screenshots makes us grin.
The main character goes by the name of – yep, you guessed it – DeathSpank. He’s your standard over-the-top hero: cocky, square-jawed, Don Quixote-like delusions of grandeur, and of course, a sharp sense of humor that is bound to come across as somewhat abrasive to those who are too serious. He will encounter all sorts of eccentric characters during his travels and that includes the likes of Eubrick, who was on display during the PAX presentation according to IGN. This guy goes backwards in telling anyone with an ear about his courageous exploits, but at some point, we learn he was once known as “Sally.” …hmm…yeah, we’re laughing already. The artistic style of the game itself kinda reminds us of a cross between the Penny Arcade Adventures titles and the recently released Fat Princess; it’s not meant to be flashy or technically polished, because the aim is to be amusingly appealing in all the right ways. This may be a vague prediction, but you get the gist.
Perhaps the screens don’t do the game justice but in case you need more in the way of description, you should know that it’s a 2D presentation that is akin to creating an entire world out of folded sheets of paper. The landscape is in 3D, of course, but the objects that inhabit this landscape – characters included – are all made of this 2D “paper,” which gives the entire game a very unique appearance. Once you consider the fact that DeathSpank is a colorful main character (complete with alternate costumes; if you wish to look like a pirate, so be it), you’ll understand that such a title should be aesthetically original and pleasing. Once they release some video previews of the game, we’ll be sure to bring them to you, but in the meantime, you have to admit that Hothead is definitely on the right track with this one. Really, if we’ve got the humor nailed down and the atmosphere is both unique and attractive in the eyes of many, all that’s left is to solidify the basic controls and make the gameplay accessible and perhaps even addictive.
One of the reasons we make the comparison to Fat Princess isn’t because this game is based on strategy (which it isn’t); it’s because there will be an absurd amount of violence superimposed over that apparently inoffensive and even cutesy exterior. DeathSpank will wander around with a cleaver – yes, a freakin’ cleaver – but there are many other weapons of slashing and bashing destruction to be found. And each of those weapons can be upgraded, so they can better deal with the marauding hordes of skeletons and spiders and, if you like, you can send in the…chickens on fire. We’re not sure what kind of danger fiery chickens pose to the denizens from the depths of hell, but it sure as hell contributes to the cacophony of insanity that will likely surround the crazy main character on a frequent basis. We’re talking about a hack ‘n slash style of gameplay that rivals most of the action/RPGs you’ve played in the past, so make sure you’ve got that mashin’ finger ready!
DeathSpank may be released later this year but for now, it only has a frustrating “TBA” as a release date. We’ll keep you updated.
9/7/2009 Ben Dutka