Reader Review: Deathspank

Reader Review: Deathspank

Do you have what it takes to get a review published right here on Kotaku? Jenn does, as she knows that all orphans smell like rotten cabbage.

Yes, that’s right, we’re publishing reader reviews here on Kotaku. This is your chance to deliver sensible game purchasing advice to the rest of the Kotaku community.

And thanks to the very kind chaps at Madman Entertainment, purveyor of all kinds of cool, indie and esoteric film, the best reader review we publish each month will win a prize pack containing ten of the latest Madman DVD releases.

This review was submitted by Jenn Christodoulou. If you’ve played Deathspank, or just want to ask Jenn more about it, leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Deathspank (XBLA, PSN)

Deathspank clutches in his hands the final clue in a life’s journey paved with Blood and Steel and Bacon. And I clutch in my hands a copy of Deathspank, because any game that mentions bacon and makes me laugh within the first five minutes is definitely worth purchasing in my books.

Ok, so I can’t actually touch my copy of Deathspank, since I downloaded it off the PSN, but if I close my eyes I can imagine that I can, and this game is nothing if not testament to the fact that imagination is a damn powerful thing. Deathspank is a new RPG title brought to us by the ingenious mind of Ron Gilbert. For some people, that sentence alone would be enough to make them buy it… but some people are picky, so I’ll keep going. For about AU$20 you can purchase Deathspank on the PSN or XBLA.


Simplicity: This game doesn’t boast in-depth plot lines, or character back-stories that drag on for years. It’s simple: you are the fearless hero Deathspank sent on an epic mission to recover an all important artefact. Along the way, you do quests for townspeople to accumulate better items and weapons. Each level you advance you get a little more badass, a little more skilled, and a little more entertained by how easy it is to kill stuff.

Humorous: The quests you’re sent to do in this game are hilarious. I had to buy some guy a burrito, kill some bishops and then beat the crap out of demons… quite literally, crap. And that was just in my first few hours of playing. Another reason this game is so funny is the voice acting. Some people have slammed it, saying the actors mangled the lines, but I think it’s brilliant. It’s an odd occurrence when voice acting in games is done well and even more absurd when it makes us laugh at the same time.


Co-op: The multiplayer mode in this game is ‘drop in, drop out’ which means that a second player can enter or leave at any time, taking on the role of Sparkles the wizard. However, Sparkles doesn’t get anything of his own and shares levelling benefits, screen space and even his life bar with Deathspank. He’s a sidekick, in every sense of the word. Though he is also a wizard, so I guess he wins in the game of life, if not in anything else.

Deathspank is a game that is comedic in every sense. The character design, dialogue, quests, and even the item descriptions will have you laughing. It’s a lite game, with a lite price tag and perfect for playing in short instalments. If you need something to do over the next few days and your wallet is just about empty, Deathspank is the perfect game to give a whirl. Plus you don’t even have to get up off your couch to buy it! It’s win win!

Reviewed by: Jenn Christodoulou

You can have your Reader Review published on Kotaku. Send your review to us at the usual address. Make sure it’s written in the same format as above and in under 500 words – yes, we’ve upped the word limit. We’ll publish the best ones we get and the best of the month will win a Madman DVD prize pack.


  • I wanted to ask something about this reader review feature. If we submit a review, does the game have to be recent or can I choose a game that I’ve played recently that came about a few years ago? Can it just be any game?

    • With very few exceptions, I only publish reader reviews of games released within the last couple of months.

  • So this review tells me that it’s a funny game that’s simple and has bad co-op?

    What’s the actual, like, gameplay like? I’ve heard people say it’s anywhere between fantastic to rage-inducing.

    • For my money, I found the gameplay compelling, if not overly fun. I like a good hack ‘n’ slash, and this one has its moments – the super-powerful attacks you access by charging your “justice meter” as you damage enemies can be fun to pull off, and the meter charges quite quickly (and isn’t reset when you die) so you’ll see a lot of those. You can use those special attacks strategically for stuff like crowd control, but it’s often not necessary – even though I played on hard, I found a lot of the combat way too easy, with only a few types of enemies putting up a real fight.

      The toughest ones will kill you in a hit or two, so you really need to learn to time your blocks. Blocking just before an enemy attack connects fills your justice meter instantly, so that becomes integral to taking down the bigger beasties at anything greater than a snail’s pace. It makes for some tense encounters since there’s so little room for error, and I really enjoyed the challenge there. But those moments are few and far between, unfortunately – for the majority of the game, I didn’t need to block much at all. Food for healing out of combat is ludicrously plentiful, and you amass so much gold (like… millions) that you can easily afford to keep your supply of health potions topped up if you don’t find enough in the field. I also didn’t make much use of the combo system which increases damage when you vary your attacks… it’s a nice idea, but most enemies only seem to take 3-5 seconds to kill anyway, so why bother?

      Another practically useless system is the elemental damage/resist gear. I kept a full range of gear, and I only needed to make use of it twice in the whole game – some fire resist gear on one boss, and undead resist/nature damage when fighting ghosts that can’t be harmed with anything else. The elemental damage weapons are comparatively puny alongside the more useful “weapons of justice” that can trigger different attacks using your justice meter, so you’re unlikely to keep them equipped unless you know you need them for a specific situation. Tons of enemies probably have certain elemental weaknesses, but since everything’s so damn squishy anyway, it’s not something I explored much.

      Basically, it’s a game that gives you the option to play intelligently, but not the incentive. You can just hurp it and durp it all the way home, mindlessly mashing your way to victory.

      And FWIW, the game wasn’t actually anywhere near as funny as I’d hoped it would be. I really, really wanted to love Deathspank, since I’m a huge MI fan. I actually bought Deathspank and MI2:SE at the same time, and I think if I’d heard the MI developers’ commentary before I bought Deathspank I might have considered saving my money – it seemed to reveal to me that Ron Gilbert has the worst sense of humour out of the core MI team, heh. A lot of the dialogue was entertaining, but not enough to get a real laugh out of me. I know that for some people, the game’s irreverent style ameliorated the largely humdrum gameplay, but it’s just not quite there for me. Fetch quests that play on “lol, people in games sure do ask you for some silly stuff!” sounded like something I might enjoy, but it turns out that self-awareness doesn’t make running those errands any less tedious.

      In spite of all these issues, I did 100% the game – in two 5-hour sessions, the first of which only ended because it was 6am! Like I said, it can be compelling. It’s easy to get caught in the thrall of “just one more quest/level” and I didn’t want to put the game down, even though I ultimately found it a pretty unsatisfying experience. Heh, as you can see, I’m kinda conflicted about this game. I don’t feel like it was worth my money, but I guess I’m not immensely sorry I played it…?

      So, that’s my goddamn essay on Deathspank. Probably longer than the review. o_O

      • Thanks for that Sarah! I think i’ll skip this one. I’m getting the feel that it’s mediocre at best, and if I don’t ‘get’ the humour, or don’t think it’s funny, I probably won’t enjoy it.

        • No problem, Steven! Thank *you* for reading my massive rant – this game just let me down in so many ways. :/ If the price comes down a bit or you find yourself with absolutely nothing else to play, it’s probably worth a look but otherwise, yeah, I’d give it a miss. Probably worth noting that plenty of reviewers have praised the humour in the game, so it may well be the case that I’m just a gigantic sourpuss. 😛

  • I’ve seen more than a few reviews moan about the co-op, but I can see why they did it that way. The alternative was probably to just cut it out.

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