Repetition. It's a funny thing, repetition. We'd sneer and dismiss it just like that - clicks fingers - if it wasn't for World Of Warcraft. It's a game with so much repetition the players themselves describe much of it as 'grinding,' but every picosecond WOW sells another million - clicks fingers - just like that. It goes on and on. Repeating.
DeathSpank does, too, or its combat does. You hit something. You hit another thing. And another. And a fourth. A 64th, a 128th, a 512th. You have four weapons and a thousand million enemies, and you grind your way through them like some kind of cartoon extremist in the days before bombs. Why? For the quest. It's like doing it for the craic, but with more delivery, grinding and repetition.
DeathSpank looks great and is often funny - it could be funnier if the voices weren't so ripely laboured. For a game featuring hammers that literally batter the crap out of demons, axes with logs stuck to them and cannons that fire chickens, the combat is surprisingly drab. It's possible to string combos together for powerful moves, use ranged or melee attacks and customise your equipment to within a millimetre of its life, but we didn't bother. We ran around and hit things, frantically filling the Justice meter to unleash an overpowered attack and earn a sliver of breathing space. When you're not fighting, you're hitting barrels, unlocking chests and fetching/killing things for the loveable spanners in over-familiar areas such as swamps, graveyards and... oh god, just fill it in yourself. To be fair, DeathSpank is satirising RPGs, but playing them in an ironic way feels much the same as doing it seriously (though a smirk might increase the risk of facial cramp).
We felt confused. DeathSpank can be oddly complex - the item and equipment screens are daunting if you're not familiar with regular RPGs - and while the simple stuff's over-explained, other aspects go uncommented on. Which is what we're going to do with the restrictive co-op, because it's hopeless. Oh wait, that was a comment.
This odd collision of good and bad is DeathSpank. But the art and music is gorgeous, so you don't mind as much as you would if it looked like, say, Lindsey Lohan during sentencing. So, worth playing if you like whimsical art and music, and combat that goes on and on and on...
Happy, funny and tiresome, DeathSpank is the Will Ferrell of games.