Hey everybody this is Darren Evenson and Chris Mitchell from Hothead Games. We’re here to talk about combat in DeathSpank.
In case you don’t know already, DeathSpank is an action-RPG mixed with adventure gameplay. A lot of people are saying it is like Diablo meets Monkey Island which is appropriate because Ron Gilbert, the co-creator of Monkey Island, was the Creative Director for the game. The quick summary is that the game has a ton of action, a ton of loot and is as funny as hell.
An early design goal for combat was that it needed to be approachable but with surprising depth. Gamers had to be able to pick up the game and figure it out immediately but make little discoveries as they continued to play.
The first thing players use are mortal weapons. This large collection of blunt objects and sharp things do physical damage to enemies. They’re an effective and satisfying way to smash enemies or put holes in them.
Next up are what we call elemental weapons. These are imbued with mystic energies that are more effective on the right enemy, or far less on the wrong one. For example, you can use fire weapons on ice monsters, nature weapons on ghosts, you get the idea. It’s a simple thing but results in the player constantly making small tactical choices.
After that are Weapons Of Justice, crazy-powerful items that are most effective when DeathSpank’s Justice meter is full. How do you fill that meter you ask? Good question. Well the slow way is to button mash. The fast and totally more fun way is to create your own combos by using a variety of weapons, filling the meter quickly while doing bonus damage. Weapons of Justice can fling lightning, stun enemies or drive them into the ground!
And then there’s Runestones. These are looted from extremely hard to kill creatures but give DeathSpank some of his coolest abilities. To use a Runestone, DeathSpank uses a Weapon of Justice in one hand and an elemental weapon in the other in a two-handed strike for devastating results. Enemies are flung into the sky by geysers, have souls pulled out of them or are filled with dozens of flaming swords.
We’ll stop there but mention things like tactically divine airstrikes, poison-coated crossbow bolts, and portable black holes (no really). On top of all that there’s a whole defensive side to DeathSpank, with dozens of potions and over a hundred pieces of unique armour for the min-maxers out there.
Ok this is usually the part in the post where the developers mention something they ‘heard in the hallway’. We’ll let you in on an industry secret, those are totally contrived, they didn’t hear anything, there probably wasn’t even a hallway. Have fun storming the castle!