You can learn a lot about a game from its title. Even non-gamers can tell from their names alone that Grand Theft Auto is going to have a fair bit of crime involved, that Rock Band has a large musical element and that Portal involves… well… portals.
While The Baconing isn’t quite as blatant as these examples you can still learn a lot from its name. It tells you that the game is chock full of pop-culture references to delight internet enthusiasts, enemies that can be harder to get through than extra crispy strips of bacon and absurdist humour that is almost as good a hangover cure as everyone’s favourite meat treat.
One curious omission from the name though is the protagonist, Deathspank. This becomes even more surprising when you realise The Baconing is a sequel to two previous games that each mention him in their titles. It becomes downright absurd when you find out that the entire game is based around the character’s humour.
Laughs can be found aplenty in The Baconing, Deathspank is a brilliant pastiche of the classic manly-man hero. Brimming with machismo and bravado and spewing hundreds of one-liners he takes on any quest in the name of justice no matter how farcical or illogical they sound. Jokes are fired off at an alarmingly fast rate with Deathspank and co cracking wise at every target possible, even taking a few pot shots at the games’ mechanics along the way.
The storyline is just as absurd as the humour. Following directly on from Thongs of Justice, Deathspank has grown bored of the perfect society he created. By wearing all the thongs of justice at the same time though Deathspank inadvertently creates an evil doppelganger of himself, the Antispank. The peace, and by extension Deathspank’s boredom, is then quickly cut short as Cyborques attack.
As the third game of the series, The Baconing carries on with the RPG aspect, but brings no real innovations to the table. The few new additions include ranged weapons that can now be charged up for extra damage and a new ability to reflect projectiles back at foes. For those who have played the previous games playing The Baconing will feel like returning to a well worn groove. Newcomers to the series are subjected to a baptism of fire, this is by no means an easy game and it does nothing to help out new players.
You find yourself thrown straight into the action without so much as a basic tutorial, even those who played earlier Deathspank games will see themselves swamped by enemies and forced to respawn at the nearest outhouse over and over. On all but the easiest and most aptly named “Downtrodden” difficulty The Baconing will test your abilities. Learning how to block and deflect attacks is a necessity, but even after mastering them losing attention for the briefest of moments may be enough for even the weakest of enemies to take you down.
Despite the difficulty, The Baconing never feels like it is taking cheap shots. It gives you every chance at winning each skirmish, yet forces you to use effective tactics and skillful blocking. Balancing things back toward your favour are the multitude of weapons and armours scattered throughout the game.
The Baconing is a scavengers dream as armour and weapons fall from almost every enemy. You’ll be constantly switching through your inventory as you gain crazier loot every few seconds. A tactical decision is needed when choosing each weapon as they are all wildly distinct from one another and each have their own benefits and drawbacks.
The different types of armour on the other hand all do essentially the same job with varying efficiency. This isn’t to say you won’t be delighted everytime you find a new pair of shoulder-pads. In fact finding new armour is one of the highlights of the game as each set has a wildly different look to the others. One second Deathspank will be clad in armour befitting of a god and a few kills later he’ll be dressed head to toe in a outfit suited for the golf course.
This variety is also true of the locales on show. Few games hop between such diverse and unique locations as The Baconing does. Throughout the game you’ll visit leprechaun-run casinos, dystopic wastelands and the inside of a super-computer to name but a few places.
All this diversity doesn’t quite compensate for the monotony of the game though. At heart this is a fairly standard RPG affair, full of repetitive battles, tedious grinding and overly complex quest trees. The spot on humour goes some way to rectify all these short comings but in the end it’s all The Baconing has to offer. If you enjoy RPGs in general and are looking for a laugh then The Baconing is for you, if you are looking for innovation, then move along.
Verdict – Off Target
Platforms Available – PC, PS3, Mac, Xbox 360
Platform Reviewed – PC