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Humor, lots of quests make 'DeathSpank' shine

Crazed unicorns, mobster leprechauns and evil gingerbread men are some of the title character's opponents in "DeathSpank."
Crazed unicorns, mobster leprechauns and evil gingerbread men are some of the title character's opponents in "DeathSpank."
  • Title character in "DeathSpank" seeks mysterious Artifact but doesn't really know why
  • Lots of quests, side quests mean hours of game play
  • Humorous dialogue gives game a sense of whimsy despite its violence

(CNN) -- When a game starts off by telling the player, "If you think the menu is awesome, wait until you see the game!" -- it's a pretty good bet that it will have a lot to offer.

And "DeathSpank" doesn't disappoint, featuring fluid game action, interesting missions and laugh-out-loud dialogue.

"DeathSpank" (Hothead Games/EA) is a role-playing game full of quests, side quests and humor at every turn. The video game follows the exploits of the title character as he dispenses justice, vanquishes evil and becomes a hero to the downtrodden in an effort to obtain the Artifact, a mystical item with mysterious powers.

As with most role-playing games, questing is the driving force. Nearly everyone you meet will need something done or be able to help you get something done.

The trick is figuring out who has what and in what order. Beyond the main goal, there are tons of side quests to be completed, but they are worth the time.

Along the way, the hero DeathSpank battles fantasy-themed villains using weapons that are as humorous as they are powerful. There's a gun that shoots out homicidal chickens, a flaming ax called Fire Axe 2: Fire Harder and the Demon Poop hammer that does exactly what you think it does are all at his disposal.

There are witches, wizards, orques (orcs), greems (goblins) and unicorns to battle and defeat.

There isn't much variety to the combat -- whack opponent until dead -- but it's fun. DeathSpank is able to access four different weapons at any time, and using a variety during battles multiplies the power and experience that the player can earn. However, additional effects and weapon choices are key to defeating some of the stronger enemies you'll meet.

The humor and conversations are what set "DeathSpank" apart from other games. The dialogue from each nonplayer character is expansive and offers direction and choices for how the player gets information.

Need to fix a broken sword? You'll find out you need a spicy taco. Trying to rescue a lost orphan? You'll need a lollipop, cell phone and pony.

During one conversation, the aforementioned orphan asks for the candy treat. DeathSpank tells her the sucker (pun intended) is inside a bag. "Oh, no," she says. "I'm not falling for that again!"

Despite the game's medieval-inspired setting, the dialogue is often rooted in today's pop culture. References to television and movies are sprinkled throughout discussions. And wait until you see the super-surprise postscript after defeating the main villain.

The one drawback to the game is the abundance of "health items" and easily found powerful weapons. It seems that DeathSpank is never without something to improve his health (cheeseburgers, pizza, ice cream bars) or a more-potent weapon that just happens to be stashed in a convenient barrel.

That's not to say you won't die in the game. Some enemies can kill with a single blow.

But even then, DeathSpank gets revived in a nearby outhouse to continue his journey. The outhouses are also used as teleportation devices to get around the map -- just don't ask how it works.

With tongue firmly planted in cheek, "DeathSpank" is a game that will entertain and challenge for hours. It is available for download through the PlayStation Network or the Xbox Live Arcade.


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