The Baconing is the third DeathSpank title from Hothead Games. The first two, designed by Ron Gilbert, the guy behind the first two Monkey Island games, were comedic button mashing RPGs that managed to be both funny and fun to play. Although Gilbert left Hothead last year, with The Baconing, DeathSpank’s adventures continue.
At the end of the last game the thoroughly heroic DeathSpank had managed to collect the Thongs of Virtue. Unfortunately, there isn’t a butt made that can endure all six thongs at once. Not even DeathSpank’s. So he has to search out the Bacon Fire, the only fire fierce enough to destroy the magical underwear. Wearing them creates the gigantic, evil Anti-Spank that starts to destroy the city of Spanktopia.
For $24.90 from the PlayStation Network (five dollars cheaper if you subscribe to PlayStation Plus), you can join DeathSpank on his third mighty quest. But, if you have played the first two, you’ll find that nothing much has changed. The combat is essentially the same, a lot of familiar characters return and if anything, along with all the hacking, slashing and shooting, there are even more laughs.
The game is separated into six parts – one for each Thong of Virtue. In each area DeathSpank has to complete a series of quests in order to gain access to the Bacon Fire. The quests are all pretty weird (something noted, and commented on by DeathSpank) but offer plenty of scope for the jokes. Be it finding jewels to finish a ‘Kingly’ jumpsuit, armour needed to get through a mob run casino, or repairing the mighty Z.I.R.C.O.N, a super computer constructed in the 70’s that unfortunately still counts its processing power in bytes.
To help with all this DeathSpank has a wealth of weaponry at his disposal. There’s the Cobra of Whacking, a club that is made out of a poisonous snake that ate poisonous snakes it’s entire life. And, found in the casino, the Perfectly Legal Bat - because there’s no law against carrying a bat now is there? Every time you go up a level there is another set of armour and another collection of weapons. Your inventory gets full very quickly. So for many of them you simply read the description, laugh at the joke and then grind it up for cash so you’ll have room in you inventory for the next potion, grenade or bolt you find.
Despite continually upgrading weapons, the gameplay itself remains pretty much the same throughout. You have melee, ranged and chargeable Weapons of Justice that can poison or stun or do elemental damage. Weapons, potions and grenades can all be activated with the d-pad or face buttons so it take a bit of organisation to keep track of your eight slots and the continually increasing inventory.
The last bit of help DeathSpank gets is through the game’s two player mode. Pressing the start button allows a second player to join the game. Along with Steve, the unicorn riding ninja, and Sparkles the Wizard, there is also the hammer-head shark Bob from Marketing and the web slinging, poison spewing Tankko. While definitely just helpers, having a second player join the fun does make some of the more difficult enemies that much more do-able.
Not that the game holds too much difficulty. Like many games now, you can switch the difficulty level at any time so whenever something starts to pose a challenge, you can put a stop to that nonsense pretty quickly. While, in a friendly nod towards Monkey Island, there’s a bit of insult fighting, the are also a few puzzles (though only one requires any lateral thinking), and the ability to deflect an enemy's arrows or fireballs back at them, there is nothing much in DeathSpank that you can’t simply mash your way through. After the first Thong is destroyed, it all get a bit repetitive. In the end, the jokes may be the only real reason to hang around.
However, if you want more DeathSpank, or if you haven’t tried him before, then The Baconing is old fashioned gaming with a comedic twist. But, if you’ve played the other games, don’t expect too much different. There’s a lot of bashing, a bit of grinding, a few deadly gummi bears, and some fairly innocuous toilet humour. But, what did you expect, it’s the hero of the down-trodden, the vanquisher of evil, and the wearer of the six mythical Thongs of Virtue, it’s DeathSpank.