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If The Tick was a playable character in the next Diablo game, the result would be a lot like The
Baconing. This is the third game in the Deathspank series, but Hothead Games and its titular hero is
mighty, indeed! Only Deathspank, hero
of the downtrodden, can bring the Thongs of Virtue to the enchanted Bacon fires
that can destroy these mystical underpants, thus freeing his realm from a
world-devouring evil created by his own hubris. I have to clarify that this is really the story of the
game. The Deathspank series is a very self-aware parody of the action-RPG
genre and the sense of humor shines in The Baconing.
Gamers who haven’t tried the first two games can jump into
the series with The Baconing without
having to worry about the backstory.
Deathspank’s entire world is ridiculous, full of non-sequiturs, and easily
summed up in the short intro. He
accidentally doomed his world by wearing six pairs of enchanted panties at
once, and now has to go out and hit bad guys with his mighty weapons.
And oh, what weapons Deathspank shall share with the player
controlling him! This is an action-RPG, and there is loot a-plenty.
Full suits of armor to play dress up with, some of them turning
Deathspank into goofy characters like Elvis, or a Tron-inspired space guy. The weapons are similarly goofy, and
every item in the inventory comes with a short, humorous description.
In fact, just about every line of text, or spoken dialogue is
funny. Deathspank gets sent on all
sorts of odd quests by a truly amusing group of NPCs. His world is part fantasy, part sci-fi,
and full of genre spoofs. The
designers are very aware of the tropes of action-RPGs, but Deathspank himself
is oblivious. He just charges
ahead through his adventure, supremely confident in his righteousness, and
takes his silly world at face value. Go kill that thing? Whatever. It is MUST DIE!
Fans of the first two games should know that The Baconing puts more of a focus on action than its
predecessors. Deathspank will
fight off swarms of enemies and wade through foes on his way to incinerate the
evil underpants. New to this game
is a shield bash which functions by holding down the Block button until it
charges up, then releasing to knock back melee foes, or reflect projectiles
back at their casters.
There’s an elemental system in which certain weapons are
more powerful against certain enemies, and even some enemies that are entirely
impervious unless Deathspank whacks them with the right kind of weapon. This adds some strategy to the mix, but
can also get the player killed a few times before getting Deathspank’s load-out
right. Character-building is limited; with each level, there is a
choice of “Hero Cards” to boost the character’s abilities, but this is very
limited when compared to most other games in the same genre.
The combat is quite tough. Even when playing on the normal
difficulty mode, Deathspank will fall many times. The designers obviously intended for players to bring down
ranged attackers with the new shield deflect power, but it’s very hard to
master and even experienced gamers will have trouble in combat situations
involving a mixture of ranged and hand-to-hand fighters. This is actually most of the
encounters, so the game grows frustrating.
Despite the game’s sense of humor, the combat can drain much
of the enjoyment from the experience.
Reaching the next zany NPC becomes the goal, with combat being the
obstacle players must overcome to get some entertaining dialogue. The game might have been more
entertaining if the combat had been dropped entirely, and gameplay consisted of
nothing but our mighty hero running around talking to people in the manner of
an adventure game.
There’s a co-op mode.
Unfortunately it is limited to local, with no online options. That’s an odd thing to see these days,
but it does make The Baconing a bit more appealing, especially since it allows
the second player to choose from a selection of four sidekicks. A fifth is available as DLC for two
With game designers all scrambling to show how artistic and
mature they can be, it’s nice to see a franchise that perpetually mocks the
industry. The Baconing offers a lot of laughs for players who are willing
to wade through the annoying combat, and it’s definitely worth putting in the
effort for gamers who like to see a sense of humor in their games. The Baconing and the other two Deathspank games are all out now
for Xbox 360, Playstation 3, PC and Mac.