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DeathSpank: Thongs of Virtue is a curious case—and not just because it has the word thong in the title. It's interesting because the original DeathSpank was released only two months ago and now we already have a full blown sequel on our hands. This isn't DLC for the original, nor is this an expansion pack, this is a complete second stand alone game. It's pretty rare for a developer to release episodic content so quickly. So while this may not be advertised as such, DeathSpank: Thongs of Virtue is very much our DeathSpank: Episode 2.
For people who missed the original extravaganza, DeathSpank is a Diablo style hack and slash RPG set in a cartoony, over the top and mostly silly world. Our main guy, the dispenser of justice DeathSpank, is a heroic buffoon that will fight any foe and monster in the pursuit of what's right—or bacon. Created from the warped mind of Ron Gilbert, DeathSpank is a great blend of the humor of The Secret of Monkey Island and the addictive loot whoring people have come to expect with RPGs like World of Warcraft.
Thongs of Virtue's story picks up right after the end of the original game. DeathSpank is tasked with obtaining six magical thongs, all possessed by formidable users. Along the way, our hero will fight evil nuns, killer robots, crazy leprechauns and even Santa Claus himself—Nothing will stand in the way of DeathSpank's plight. The humor and goofy voice acting are all back in full strength and the style and charm are just as prevalent as the first game. If these things were a check in the negative column for you the first time around this is a fair warning that Thongs of Virtue is more of the same.
The world is a lot larger this time, touted as about 50% larger than the original. Thongs of Virtue is packed to the brim with quests that will keep players busy for multiple hours. More importantly, Hothead Games seems to have learned from their mistakes with the previous DeathSpank and included a lot more variety in quest types. There is still a lot of fetching 10 or so of “Item A” or 5 of “Item B” but there is enough variety thrown into the mix to keep it from becoming too glaring of a flaw.
Traveling around the massive world is easily done via the comical outhouses. As you find new outhouses, you are able fast transit back to any outhouse you have previously found. Quests are often sprawled across the entire world map so being able to fast track from point to point is super convenient.
The loot system is what made the first DeathSpank so addicting. Completing quests and receiving a slightly better piece of armor is what makes the RPG genre so seductive to begin with. The loot system from the original DeathSpank is back and largely untouched. The biggest curve ball is that DeathSpank can now use an arsenal of ranged weapons. The ranged weapons vary from machine guns and revolvers to space lasers and bazookas. Ranged weapons usually depend on a finite supply of ammunition, so depending solely on them won't get you far. This keeps DeathSpank in melee range for most of the game, but having ranged options is a big plus.
Overall, DeathSpank: Thongs of Virtue is a very solid game but it's nothing we haven't seen before. It's still a fun experience but there is little that sets this release apart from being merely a DeathSpank 1.5. The addition of ranged weapons and more diversity in quests is nice but it might not be enough for some gamers to drop another $15. If you loved the first DeathSpank it's worth checking out to get more action, but if you didn't or only kind of liked it there's nothing new here to draw you back in.
DeathSpank: Thongs of Virtue is available now on XBLA and PSN.