The phrase more of the same comes around in gaming quite a bit. It is usually used to describe a sequel that is released soon after the original game is has hit store shelves. Well it seems that the team at Hot Head games and EA are trying to capitalize on the popularity of the original Deathspank with the new sequel entitled Deathspank: Thongs of Virtue.
Now, I know I just said that some games are more of the same, and this one definitely is, but I enjoyed the original Deathspank so much that I didn’t have a problem with the two month turnaround that was implemented here. The reason for the game being released so soon was the fact that both games were being developed at the same time. However, they did not have the time to update the issues I had with the first one, so unfortunately they still remain. They take a new twist with the gameplay that does make is feel somewhat fresh, but again, it was only two months since the last game, and it is time for Deathspank to be a hero for the downtrodden once again.
The story picks up immediately after the events of the first game. I guess a spoiler warning is in order here, but you defeat the evil Lord VonProng, and realize that he is wearing a Thong of Power, similar to the one worn by the hero Deathspank. After your victory you fall from grace, winding up in a prison camp and must escape to find out an explanation for the thongs. You eventually escape, and are told that the six Thongs of Power were created long ago, and given to those who were seemingly deserving of the power. However, you soon find out that power corrupts, and each of the four remaining wearers of the thongs are now evil and must be stopped. The story itself has a hilarious premise, and continues the humor through the duration of the game. The thongs were given out to a variety of crazy characters, with the first one being Santa Claus. Your first task is to stop him at all costs, and things eventually get complicated from there. The story is very good and well told through cutscenes and Deathspank’s patented humorous dialogue. It is a very good tale.
However, that is obviously not the main draw of the game, as most of your time spent in this world will be used in combat and quests. The combat remains very hack and slash and Diablo-esqe, with the only real new addition being the implementation of guns. Instead of crossbows of the past, you now have assault rifles, bazookas, and pistols to dispense your foes. I like this new addition, as the gun makes the ranged combat more satisfying and easier to pull off. You still have swords, axes, and spears to use in melee combat, and are still able to chain different melee weapons together in succession to do more damage. The Justice meter also returns, and after each successful hit, you are able to build up your Justice to then unleash a power area of effect attack that knocks enemies back or does extra damage.
The quest structure still remains, as almost every character that you find in the world will offer you quest. Quests most fetch and kill quests, and are divided into important and non-important, the former being the things you have to do and the latter being the things you can take your time on. You are still also able to find fortune cookies around the world to offer help on which quests you need it on. I found that this time around there were a lot more fortune cookies scattered around the world, so it made the game a little easier if you are getting stuck on some of your tasks. Also, there are some environmental puzzles that you have to solve for some of the quests in the game, which I found to be fun and challenging. The quest structure, like the overall game is more of the same, but still interesting.
Other aspects of the gameplay still remain from the original game such as you can use Outhouses to teleport around the world, as well as grind items in your inventory that you do not need for extra cash. Again, there are a few new additions such as armor sets. Now instead of random pieces of armor for your character, you can try to collect and entire set to deck out Deathspank in a certain way. The armor sets don’t have any extra effect if you have all of the items equipped however, and are just for show. I didn’t find myself going after specific armor sets, but actually setting the game to equip the best armor once I picked it up. This feature definitely helps, and keeps you from having to micro-manage too many options.
You unfortunately cannot carry your save over from the previous game, so you start at level one again. As you can gain levels, you can increase your abilities by choosing from one of three cards. The card varies depending on what level you just reached, but they can range from increased movement speed to strength in melee or ranged combat or even being able to use armor and weapons that are one level higher that what you are.
The game world is larger this time around, and there is ultimately mode to see and do in this game than the original Deathspank. Early in the game, you head to the pirate village of Scurvyville, and you are able to acquire a pirate ship here that you can explore the farther parts of the world, similar to an airship in the Final Fantasy games. This makes the game seem bigger on an overall scale, because simply you will be spending a lot more time in this game than the original.
The thing that stands out the most about this game is the new environment and enemy types. Each new area that you go into is different from the next, and they are a lot more diverse and interesting the deeper you get into the game. Also, the enemy types are unique to this time frame, as you now have orques with machine guns and bazookas as well as robots to contend with. This aspect does make the game fresh, and doesn’t make it just fall behind the shadow of its predecessor.
As a whole, I still cannot help but recommend this game. Yes, it may feel like an expansion pack if you just recently spent the fifteen dollars on the predecessor, and I am sure there are some who do not want to drop fifteen dollars again so soon. However, if you didn’t pick up the first game, I would ultimately suggest that you skip it and move on to this one instead. You really do not need to know much about the original to find this one fun and enjoyable. On the other hand, fans of Deathspank should definitely choose to continue our hero’s tale, because this is definitely not the last time we will be seeing him, and he is once again in top form.
Review copy provided by publisher.