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Hands-on with DeathSpank co-op - Diablo meets Monkey Island

If you read GamesRadar (which we can now prove you’ve done at least once), you probably know DeathSpank is a downloadable action RPG. You know it’s funny, thanks to the input of developer Ron Gilbert, one of the guys behind the original Monkey Island games. You may know it’s hitting PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in mid-July, and you may have sussed out that it’s set to last about 15 hours. Hey, you’re pretty smart. But what you don’t yet know about it co-op mode.

Now, before you start thinking about spending the wee hours of the morn thumping on orcs (sorry, orques) online, let us get the one big downer out of the way. Co-op is a decidedly local experience – no online here, kids, sorry. And that's entirely by design; Gilbert and the development crew at Hothead Games want you to share the laughter and strategy in equal measure with someone sitting right next to you. So we did. And we had a blast.

The actual core of the game is no different with one player or two. The drop-in, drop-out second player instantly scales to whatever level the titular hero is, and the two players even share single life bar. That said, player two takes the form of the mighty-ish wizard Sparkles, who packs some serious long-range magic kicksauce to complement the close-up, melee focused main hero, DeathSpank.

Sprinkles can spam jets of flame or whips of magic missile from his wand. He can clone himself and create a clone of that clone that becomes a suicide bomber. And of course, he’s the group healer – which, given DeathSpank’s IQ, is likely to come in very handy. But the idea is still to hang back rather than charging into the fray. This leaves the person playing DeathSpank to do a bit of inventory management, scooping up loot and swapping out armor or weapons (better ones always show up highlighted in green when you pull up the inventory, and anything equipped shows instantly on DeathSpank, of course) and grabbing new quests.

It works exactly as you'd think, really, and gives a second player the chance to join without requiring them to know much more than “Using the four face buttons to attack and follow the main character”. Since they're in the same room, they're also treated to the game's absolutely fantastic sense of humor, and the dialogue is rife with genuinely hilarious moments. Which is pretty much perfect as far as we're concerned. You know what they say: hilarity loves company. And if they don’t say that already, they damn well should. And they will.

Jul 2, 2010