The Baconing Review
Graphics - 6.5
Gameplay - 6
Value - 6
Story - 6
Sound - 5.5
If you liked the first two games in this franchise, you could like this, but it does come at a cost.
Does Hothead’s latest DeathSpank title continue the series’ legacy, or do they require a spanking?
The Baconing is the third in a series of action RPGs featuring the character DeathSpank, this being the first I’ve played. The game is primarily a single-player game, but players can get a friend to join in and play along co-operatively as one of four sidekicks. The series was developed by Hothead games, a developer whose focus has been on accessible game play and episodic content.
This is instantly noticeable within minutes of starting The Baconing, as the game world is divided into bite-sized chunks. Every now and then you will come across an out-house (old fashioned toilet) which work as both a warp for quick-travel and a respawn point should you die. After venturing through the game, and perishing by the hands of what was bound to be the Goombas of Spanktopia I realized this game was missing a tutorial for beginners, such as myself. As I got further into this game it felt more and more unbalanced. Some of the out-houses for example were practically next to each other while others were miles apart. You can fortunately save at any point, but again this would have been the sort of thing new players would of found beneficial in a tutorial.
I found the combat to be repetitive with rarely any change in tactic needed. Attacking of enemies seems weak and boring. Throughout the game you level up, but the options this grants you are very underwhelming. From running faster, and reflecting more damage, the choices do not reflect the games vast humor or even make much of a difference in combat.
There’s also a combo-meter you build up to unleash justice attacks, such as calling in a dragon to unleash an aerial attack, which certainly adds some excitement. DeathSpank can also execute a shield bash to push enemies away or even stun them. Also, players have a lock-on option for both enemies and items you can interact with, but this felt clumsy compared to other games. Boss fights are also tedious, they merely seem like stronger Spank-fodder with a few varied attacks.
The quests you set out on throughout the game do little to increase enjoyment, the majority seem little more than basic fetch quests. After playing platformers for years on Nintendo’s consoles I find fetch quests extremely tedious! The humorous narrative surrounding some of them don’t distract as well as what was achieved in Rare’s Conkers Bad Fur Day.
The Baconing has a well-executed equipment screen, where you can customize your armor and weapons, paying attention to their individual stats to work out what’s best for your play-style. However, there’s an option to instantly upgrade to whatever the game deems to be the best equipment. The gameplay could have been improved by diverting some of the focus from hack n’ slash combat to have some puzzles to solve. Rather than go there collect that or go there kill them; some environmental or pshyics based problems to be solved would have broken up the repetition. The co-op would of also felt less of an after thought if the second player could actually help you achieve something than just defeating enemies quicker.
Graphically speaking, the game is beautifully crisp and presented in a cel-shaded art style. The world appears on a revolving spindle so as you walk into the distance the background flows to meet you. This appears to be the same method used by Nintendo in the most recent Animal Crossing games. The level design is also repetitive but barely noticeable as the environments you venture through change drastically, from the browns, reds and greys of burning wastelands to greens, pinks and blues of a forest-enclosed theme park.
The games soundtrack I too found dull and uninspired, however juxtaposed again is the games voice acting as this is full of personality. There is humor throughout the game, which in a world filled with run-and-gun cookie cutter FPS’s The Baconing is a welcome change. The tone feels reminiscent of the Monkey Island games.
Ultimately whilst playing this game I had a love/hate relationship with it. I warmed to the world of Spanktopia through its narrative and character, but then at the same time I felt dis-connected by the dull combat and uninspired cliché gameplay.
While I would find it hard to recommend this game to new players, if you enjoyed the first two I expect you’d like this one too.
For more detailed information on how we review games visit this page. A copy of this game was provided to The Paranoid Gamer by the publisher for review purposes.