PSN Review – DeathSpank: Thongs of Virtue

September 30, 2010 Written by Ray Conley

Only a few months have passed after Hothead Games released the original DeathSpank onto the PlayStation Network.  This surprising little title came packed with a little wacky adventure that didn’t take itself too seriously.  As a result, gamers found a fun and humorous game that allowed them to enjoy the simple pleasures of gaming.  Now quick on its heels, we see the return of DeathSpank in the Thongs of Virtue.  Let’s find out if the game’s next chapter for our over-zealous protagonist brings in some fresh laundry or find out if it feels like that we have worn these thongs before.

DeathSpank: Thongs of Virtue begins with our down-trodden hero pealing potatoes inside a POW camp, once an escape is devised with his fellow prisoner, the story propels itself into yet, another humor filled adventure where you’ll run into new and old friends.  DeathSpank will eventually be set forth on the task to retrieve the five missing thongs of virtue out of six that were forged (DeathSpanks sports the sixth one, the Thong of Justice).  The powerful thongs had eventually corrupted its wearers, and so DeathSpank must find and collect the magical undergarments so that they maybe destroyed in the hot smoldering fires of a volcano.  Yes, the story seems somewhat of a cliché from the Lord of the Rings, but trust me when I say you won’t be getting the two confused while marching through DeathSpank’s world.

The gameplay is exactly the same as the first installment, so don’t worry about re-familiarizing yourself with the control layout.  If you’ve played the first one, you’ll be able to jump right back in with ease to continue the story.  You’ll be able to use the same “Justice” meter to unleash special attacks depending on the equipped weapon on hand.   Sometimes you’ll be allowed to combine two different weapons when deploying the Justice meter to unleash much more devastating attacks.  However, sticking to the tried and true method of blocking and attacking should be enough to propel DeathSpank through the hostile terrain before he needs to start munching down some nachos or ice cream to replenish his health.

Part of the key to survival is to make sure you’re the man with the bigger gun.  Yes, you now get to have modern weapons at your disposal along with your familiar melee weapons.  You’ll be blasting a path through the wave of enemies with pistols, machine guns, grenades, bazookas, and lasers!  Like the first game, you also will be able to upgrade your armor pieces to keep the bleeding stifled as you make your way to harder enemies.

In this story, DeathSpank will be visiting locations that are much more reminiscent of real locations and not fantasy land.  You’ll be fighting your way through war-torn battlefields that seem to come out of a World War II history lesson, as well as jungles, forests, and even sea-side villages.  Still, tons of fantasy elements remain in these locations as you’ll run into some of the most ludicrous characters in an RPG genre.  Be prepared to meet pirates, laser-toting robots, and even aliens!

As you’re fighting your way to obtain the legendary thongs, one thing you’ll notice is that you’ll never be short of humor, weapons, and quests.  You will find tons of quests, so much that at times you may feel a bit over-whelmed when you journal becomes stacked with potential adventures.  There some good things and bad things though the come from the sheer weight of activities.  The good things – you’ll never find yourself wondering what to do or where to go.  The more you have to do, the more loot you’ll get too.  Tons of loot.  In fact, you’ll start having a difficult time trying to decide what items to keep, or what items to grind to make space for you limited inventory.

However, since you will be stocking up on a lot of quests, you’ll be required to visit, then revisit the same locations quite a few times.  The backtracking will start to wear on you if you’re the type that just wants to push the story along.  If you’re wanting to avoid the constant relapse of locations, then it would be savvy for you to stay focused on the main quest, which I wouldn’t recommend.  Part of what makes DeathSpank great are the comedic exchange of dialogue within the side missions.  To bypass them would rob your of a rich and humorous experience.

In some of the missions, you’ll also encounter some puzzles that will actually require some brain power, unlike the previous game.  To solve these mind-benders would require to engage with the town folk and really listen or read the dialogue to decipher the mystery before proceeding.  Solving the puzzles really give you sense of accomplishment, that is if you completed it without the help of a guide.

Like the original DeathSpank, the presentation and visuals are the same, and in this case, that is a really good thing!  The graphics are done in such a manner to give you an idea of a full-motion comic, or a Saturday morning cartoon. That style goes hand-in-hand with the humorous presentation and dialogue, which will always catch you off guard, causing moments of spontaneous hilarity.  And again, like the first one, this title is also lacking in an online co-op feature, which is still puzzling in itself. While you can do multiplayer on the same console, DeathSpank would really shine with an online component, something that is sorely missing from this package.

Hothead seems to understand one true concept: if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.  DeathSpank: Thongs of Virtue is much of the same gameplay from its first adventure, of course with a few added ideas to help keep the game fresh.  My only wish is that they would release a patch to include an online co-op gameplay. However, with the amount of quests and one-liners packed into this downloadable package, you will definitely have your money well spent with Thongs of Virtue, which will land you with about 10-15 hours of game time.

PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score

Fun and addictive gameplay

Comedic script and presentation

Lack of online co-op

8 out of 10