by Kiran Sury
reviewed on PS3
The deliciously titled The Baconing is the third game in the Deathspank series from Hothead games. According to Hothead, it decided not to formally use the Deathspank moniker because the game is intended to be a refresher, a starting point for those new to the series, while still drawing in returning players. I had never played a Deathspank game before, though I knew its reputation: a Diablo-esque dungeon crawler packed to the brim with jokes. With The Baconing out, this was as good as a chance as any to jump into the series and see for myself what all the fuss was about.
Talk About a Wedgie
The Baconing picks up where Thongs of Virtue left off. Deathspank accidently wears all of the thongs at once, which creates an evil Antispank whom he must defeat. To do that, Deathspank must destroy the thongs, which I assume he collected in the previous game. The only substance strong enough to destroy one of the mythical thongs is bacon fire, hence the porcine title. The story isn’t really that complex, but it gives Deathspank a reason to get out of his throne room and go questing.
Though you can return to any location previously visited, The Baconing isn’t really an open-world game. There’s really no reason to return once you have finished all the quests within an area. The various locations are quite visually and thematically distinct; Deathspank visits everything from a theme park with Mickey Mouse mascot made of meat to a casino run by mobster leprechauns to a retirement home where gods go to die. It is a good thing the places feel different, because otherwise you would realize you are pretty much doing the same thing everywhere.
Blame it on the Genre
As a dungeon crawler, the game falls victim to some of the genre conventions. Combat is pretty much a button-mashing affair, quests usually fall into the category of ‘collect x’ and ‘kill y’ and there is a superfluous amount of loot. But any game of this type has to have some of these pitfalls. The differences lie in how the games deal with them, and while The Baconing doesn’t reach the level of the upcoming Diablo III, it tries to smooth over the experience.
You will constantly be collecting new weapons, armor, potions, etc. There is a great feature that automatically equips new armor pieces if they are superior to what Deathspank is already wearing. It’s a pity it doesn’t apply the same thing to weapons. Also, once you have swapped armor, the older, useless armor is left in your ever-cluttered inventory. You have to manually select and sell it for cash, a needless inconvenience.
Humor and high production values ensure fans of the series will have a good time. Excellent coop should bring newcomers into the fold.
Difficulty is uneven, boss battles uninspired, doesn’t come with free bacon.