Oh yes -- DeathSpank levels up. In fact, there's a progress bar underneath his health bar. Pressing the Back button when you reach a new character level brings up the option to select from one of three special trait cards. In my time with the game, I got two: one that increased his movement speed and another that gave a +10% to ranged attacks. There were other options, offering enhancements to melee damage, loot drops and the like. The cards that aren't chosen get discarded -- there's no management of a deck in the game, just six card slots in total (although you can remove a card from it to make space for another, but it will also be discarded).
There wasn't time during my play session to make much progress in the main quest, so I spent most of it helping out a hapless fisherman who'd left his tackle box down by the nearby lake. Naturally, said lake was also a popular hangout for goblins, some of a higher level than DeathSpank himself. Luckily, there was an outhouse nearby. These are the game's auto-activated checkpoints to which he'll automatically return after being vanquished (and dropping some gold as a small penalty).
Honestly, I felt like I could have kept playing well into the night, the next morning and through the next day.
I found that I was enjoying using ranged attacks against these enemies, so I made use of the manual lock-on (Left Trigger) to strafe particular targets and fire whilst walking backwards. Otherwise, DeathSpank
has a "soft" auto-targeting system better suited for melee weapons. Speaking of "suited," there are also myriad armor/gear pickups in the game, which -- like the upgraded shoulder pads I equipped -- actually make substantial changes to DeathSpank's appearance. In this case, he was a lot more, well, pointy-shouldered
Eventually, I returned the fisherman's tackle box, only to learn that his prized lures were missing from it. One guess where they were. If you thought "Back at the lake," you'd be right. If you thought "Inside of the goblins," you'd be more right
. I had to collect a few of them to complete this sub-quest before my time with the game was up. Honestly, I felt like I could have kept playing well into the night, the next morning and through the next day. Maybe longer. Judging by the map screen, the game's world is absolutely huge; the large area I explored comprised maybe a tenth of the total world map.
And never once while playing did the thought cross my mind that Deathspank
is a downloadable game. Its production values and perceived amount of content are the stuff of full retail releases. Frankly, I don't care how
it's released, I just know that I want to play more of it soon.