The Baconing review (XBLA)
The Baconing was developed by Hothead Games and published by Valcon Games. It retails for 1200 MSP. A copy of the game was provided for review purposes.
The Baconing is the third installment in the DeathSpank series. Why it isn’t simply called DeathSpank 3 is a mystery but with a game this over the top it only seems appropriate. This game has the hero DeathSpank seeking to destroy the Thongs of Virtue by burning them in bacon fire. This mission will branch of into countless other directions as the citizens of the world give DeathSpank other quests to do as well. Those familiar with the series know about the over the top humor of the game and frantic combat of the game. But is this installment enough to win over the uninitiated?
Here’s what we liked:
Voice acting – All of the voice acting in The Baconing is top notch. It’s completely over the top in its delivery and that’s just perfect. Even more impressive is the shear volume of spoken dialogue in the game. There really aren’t any read only dialogue tress at all. The humor in the game may not be for everyone, but the voice acting is done perfectly to accentuate it.
Humor – The humor in The Baconing really is its calling card. Those not familiar with the series will not get a lot of the running jokes but almost all of it can be appreciated without prior knowledge. The real joke of the series is that DeathSpank is a hero that often does horrible things without ever really realizing it. The whole tone of the game is lighthearted, but the humor can be rather dark at times. Most of the game is comic gold but this is one instance where the humor of the game is so pervasive that if you don’t like it the game will be unplayable for you.
Diverse Locales – The Baconing is a pretty game. But its true beauty is seen in all of the different areas you get to explore. They are all very different with various enemies and backgrounds. The forest of the future is truly disturbing. Rainbow’s End is a hilarious fusion of leprechauns and casinos. Valhalla is portrayed as an old folks home for gods. Many games have repetitive backgrounds. Fortunately this one really has a lot of variety and character.
Here’s what we didn’t like:
Shallow combat – The combat in The Baconing can be fun but it gets old quickly. A lot of the combat revolves around attacking then running away to heal and so on. On top of this there really is not much variety in the combat. There are no special skills to unlock or special moves to use. Each weapon attacks almost the same as far as melee is concerned. Eventually it becomes more profitable to simply charge your ranged weapon and attack from afar. The constant healing and retreating really slows the pace of the game. The combat as it stands is just O.K.
Shallow RPG elements – Anyone going into The Baconing probably isn’t expecting a deep RPG. But unfortunately those elements have been stripped to an almost meaningless point. As you level up you get more powerful and get more powerful armor and weapons and such. There is rarely ever a need to level grind. Simply by doing the tasks directly in front of you, you will necessarily be the level you need to be. This leads to a real feeling of running on a treadmill. The better armor is automatically equipped but it feels more like an aesthetic change than anything. This is probably true of most RPG’s but something is missing here. Essentially you never feel like you are getting powerful or getting great gear because everything is so disposable.
Thrown to the wolves – The assumption is that most players will have played the previous titles, but there is a contingent who have not. This game does nothing to explain what is going on or how to play it. There really isn’t even any tutorial stage. It is a generally challenging game to begin with and this makes it even tougher.
Constantly in menus – The development team must have known this was an issue because they actually made armor auto-equip without having to do anything. Even so it feels like you have to spend too much time sifting through menus and not enough time fighting.
The Baconing can be a lot of fun if you come at it with the right mindset. It isn’t a serious” game by any stretch. It certainly has its high points and beautiful vistas. But it also gets bogged down at points with lengthy dialogue and repetitive questing. There are several occasions in the game where they refer to long and pointless quest chains. That’s funny, but also true. Implementing a more thoughtful combat system and better boss fights would have gone a long way towards improving the game. As it is, it’s certainly worth a look, especially for fans.
Score: Try It