Game Review: The Baconing
Release: August 31, 2011
Genre: Action Adventure RPG
Developer: Hothead Games
Available Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, Windows PC, Mac
Players: 1 – 2 Local Only
MSRP: 1200 MS Points / $14.99
ESRB Rating: T for Teen
DeathSpank is back in a sort of new stand alone adventure based on a true(ish) story, which is really the third installment of the life and times of DeathSpank, hero to the downtrodden. The Baconing picks up where we left off at the end of DeathSpank: Thongs of Virtue. DeathSpank has collected all of the Thongs which were each imbued with special powers, and is now tasked with destroying each of them, as they tend to corrupt the wearer with their power. Each thong must be taken to a special location where there is Bacon Fire and flung (or shot) into the flames, because as we all know, this is the only true way to destroy a magically imbued thong.
Yes, it’s all very silly, and very fun.
If you are new to DeathSpank’s adventures, do not feel as if you must play the first two games for The Baconing to be enjoyable. There is enough exposition to let you in on the back-story for most of the events and characters you will encounter. The Baconing takes place in a world of flat card style environments filled with quirky NPCs looking for just the right hero to carry out their highly trivial and life threatening tasks. DeathSpank is just the sort of hero they all need: over-confident, cocky, witty, with an intellect rivaled only by garden tools.
For those who are fans and have played through the first two DeathSpank games, there are plenty of recurring character appearances and insider references here to reward you for those past adventures. The Baconing is like sliding back into a familiar and comfortable thong with no noticeable changes in controls, weapon types or game mechanics.
The story environment is the star here, as it was in the previous games, with twisted locales and obscure references to the 1970’s and 1980’s. You will encounter everything from poison-spitting gummy worms to pissed-off leprechaun miners who have lost their fortunes gambling and now must work in the clover mines. You will search a macabre, clone-filled, Disney-like theme park for missing members of the “Nuclear Family of the Future” who are late getting home for dinner. You will be summoned to repair Z.I.M.O.N., the automated system that keeps the environment in the Forbidden City just barely livable. (This is a brilliant and hilarious reference to the 70’s musical pattern game SIMON.) As you can tell, there is much silliness mixed with the adventuring here.
The sound design and voice work are absolutely fantastic, breathing life into the environments, our hero DeathSpank and all of the NPCs. Combine this with a world that is dripping with DeathSpank style and you have a fulfilling, immersive and entertaining game.
What I liked most about The Baconing is that Hothead didn’t try to re-invent their wheel. Everything from inventory management to weapon variety is just like the previous games. For some this lack of enhancements and new features might seem a failure but I like the consistency. Even though the inventory management could be better, there could be new types of weapons or they could use something besides outhouses to fast travel from place to place, nothing has changed. Like I said in the beginning, it is a sort of new game, because it feels and plays just like the past titles, but with a fresh new storyline and wondrous new locations.
Still missing is online co-op adventuring. In fact the local coop is still more of an assistant to the main player rather than true co-op. It’s really a game to play by yourself, but a friend can join in and help as a 70’s style police woman. It’s definitely worth trying out just to experience this character, but don’t expect your gaming partner to be satisfied with their level of involvement in the game play.
I make no apologies if I sound a bit like a DeathSpank fan-boy. I fell in love with the first game due to the style, wit and silliness of it all. The Baconing has retained everything I love about this franchise by staying true to its roots and giving we fans more of what we want: new DeathSpank adventures.
- Excellent Voice Acting
- Silly and Entertaining
- Ridiculously Funny
- Lackluster Local-Only Co-op
Final Score 9 out of 10
If the above trailers weren’t enough DeathSpank for you, check out all the screenshots and artwork in the gallery below.