Last year, an action-RPG created by some of the minds behind Monkey Island was released, which had fun combat and even funnier wrting. That game was DeathSpank. A month later, the sequel, Thongs of Virtue was released, which felt very similar, but still added some extra features that were very welcome. It’s been a while since those games, and now we have The Baconing. Has been waiting this long for another DeathSpank game been worth it, or it should have disappeared just like DeathSpank has from the title?
Set right after the event of Thongs of Virtue, DeathSpank has collected all the thongs and in doing so, has also stopped all evil there is, making him incredibly bored. Suddenly, his city of Spanktopia start being destroyed by a giant monster, who he soon learns is Anti-Spank, who was created by DeathSpank when he wore all the thongs at the same time. And so, he is sent to destroy all the thongs in the bacon fires and destroy Anti-Spank.
As with the other DeathSpank games, the story is incredibly light-hearted and very humorous, and really, I wouldn’t have it any other way. The story is basically there as a means to an end, but for what’s there, it’s goofy and enough to make you want to continue on your adventure.
The design of the game is roughly unchanged from the previous games. You travel on what feels like a linear path, even more so than the other games, completing quests along the way, whether they are story related or side quests. These quests are almost always given by really weird and hilarious characters that you may recognize from the other games. While completing these quests, you are of course killing lots of monsters and collecting loot. You are constantly switching out your weapons for even more powerful ones, and you’re always given the option to use ranged weapons, such as crossbows, or the usual melee weapons, such as swords and axes. It’s all fairly typical, but fun nonetheless.
While killing monsters, you’ll also gain lots of XP points, which is used to upgrade your health, damage, etc. You also get to choose one of 6 cards for each level that you gain, which gives you even more boosts, like increased reflection damage or faster eating times. The level cap is 20, and I do wish it was a little higher, but it is at this level because you will essentially reach it once you’re at the end boss if you complete most of the side quests. That means the game is only about 5-6 hours long, which feels a little short for a $15 game. There is a bit of an extra incentive to replay the game, as you unlock Insane difficulty once you beat the game, and there are the leaderboards that may push you to get higher in the ranks. I just wish there was a bit more for the price of admission.
As with the design, the gameplay is roughly unchanged. You still have the four face buttons with which you assign your various weapons to, as well as the d-pad, for boost items, such as potions or magic spells. While attacking guys, you can gain an attack chain if you don’t use the same weapon to hit an enemy twice in a row, which increases your attack power as the chain grows. You also have the shield that can be used to bash enemies, which stuns them for a few seconds. A new addition to the shield is the ability to reflect oncoming projectiles back at the enemy who shot it. There are actually achievements relating to the shield bash and reflections, and although I'm usually a kamikaze type of player, I found myself using them even after I got the respective achievements. This may be one of the times where an achievement taught me to play a game a little differently than I normally would. There is also the addition of charging your ranged weapons to cause an even more powerful ranged attack.
Overall, the gameplay is still as fun as always, and while there weren't many changes to the combat, what has been changed is very welcome.
The presentation in the DeathSpank games is always what makes them stand out, and that holds true for The Baconing. The game is still presented like it’s on a constantly rotating globe, with paper thin background props, and very cartoony and expressive graphics. But of course, it’s the writing and voice acting that makes the game so funny. Nothing in this game is taken seriously, everything is spoofed (I especially like a certain CSI: Miami reference) and the voices are always over-the-top and hilarious. Without all this humour, The Baconing really wouldn’t be all that special compared to other action-RPG’s.
The background music is also fairly good, maintaining the same sort of style that the other DeathSpank games used. It's still fairly goofy, but it still has a sort of adventurous style to it as well.
While I do wish The Baconing was a longer and had a little more to offer post-game, the game is still incredibly fun to play, with some extra features I didn’t think I’d actually take advantage of, and continues to be as hilarious as always.
For that, I’m giving the game a 5/5.