It seems a little strange to me that I’ve never actually made the acquaintance of ‘The Baconings’ hero before now. Despite the ego laden, self important ‘Deathspank’ already having two Xbox LIVE Arcade games under his belt prior to this one, and the fact that his games are a cunning mix of Monkey Islands’ humour and some all-out, top down action/rpg goodness, they’ve never quite found a way onto my hard drive.
But that’s all changed now. The third instalment in the adventures of Deathspank, or ‘The Baconing’ as it’s better known now sits upon my hard drive alongside some truly great games, but the question has to be asked, ‘is it worthy?’
Well, let’s see…..
First off, as a total newcomer to the world of Deathspank and having zero knowledge of any backstory I was more than a tad worried the whole experience might become an incomprehensible blur of in-jokes, bizarre reference points and characters that seem to know me despite me having no clue as to who the hell they are. I half expected to be left in a clueless muddle and reaching for the power button before I’d even scratched the surface. Thankfully within a couple of minutes of play, it became apparent that this was a game that could stand on its’ own regardless of what had gone before and would welcome newcomers with open arms. When a game is, at its’ core, as simple and straightforward as ‘The Baconing’ is, backstory really doesn’t matter too much.
But wait, I’m jumping the gun here. Let me duck back a minute and at least give some flesh to the bones of this latest Deathspank adventure. Don’t worry I’ll make this quick. Deathspank sits lamenting upon the fact that he’s vanquished all evil from the land of Thongtopia, cut to huge rampaging beast laying waste to the land. Turns out our foolish hero has only been wearing all six Thongs of Virtue at the same time and has unwittingly spawned the AntiSpank, and as if that’s not bad enough, the AntiSpank is invincible until Deathspank can destroy the thongs in the legendary and mythical Bacon Fires. Now, back to the important stuff.
The gameplay is classic hack and slash with a smattering of dungeon crawl item collection, lashings of top notch humour and vivid graphics. Oh, and maybe it’s because I’m a newcomer, but by God, I died a lot in the first few moments spent with the game. It’s tough going at first that’s for sure. There’s no room for charging headlong into the rough stuff here, not unless you want to spend a lot of time cursing loudly as you once again respawn back at the outhouse check point.
The Baconing actually requires you throw a modicom of intelligence into your hacking and slashing gameplay. The sheild is a vital piece of equipment, not only for blocking enemy attacks but also for using as a battering ram and knocking a few bad guys down before laying into them. Ranged weapons are also a key ingredient in Deathspanks arsenal of weaponary and can all be charged up in a couple of seconds to unleash special attacks. These attacks range from spread shots early in the game to some utterly wonderful pain inducing, group annhialating shows of power later on in the action. You can of course go for the gung ho, button bashing hack and slash fare that many gamers hold dear, it’s just to progress without putting both Deathspank and your own patience through the mill it pays to approach foes with caution.
There are plenty of items to collect as you progress through the game, some from defeating enemies, others from smashing the obligatory rpg barrels, all go towards making you ready for the challenges ahead. It’s nothing particularly mind blowing or new but it does add a little more depth to the game as a whole.
Next up let’s talk comedy. Whenever I hear a game is going down the comedy road I begin to worry, there are two things within gaming that can induce a massive cringe moment for myself (particularly if playing in the presence of a non-gamer.) One is god-awful voice acting and the other is deeply unfunny attempts at comedy. As I began to play ‘The Baconing’ the ‘cringe-o-meter’ was polished off and ready for action, I shouldn’t have worried. The relief washed over me instantly as I realised that ‘The Baconing’ was a five star, triple a, ‘this is how it should be done’ sort of game in both the voice talent and the comedy aspect. ‘The Baconing’ is genuinely funny, not just smile and smirk funny but absolutely laugh out loud funny. A total triumph for the writers and a joy for the player.
Graphically ‘The Baconing’ is a real work of art. The landscape and characters seem to almost bounce from the screen in a 3D manner and there’s a real depth and beauty on display here, even when the going was getting ridiculously tough, a combination of great one liners and stunning visual treats kept me ploughing along regardless.
The game is of course not completely free from fault. The game has a very real feeling of being pushed along corridors in a linear way as opposed to really being given the chance to explore this lovingly created landscape, at times the game does also become a little monotonous, in fact take out the comedy and dull down the graphics and it’d probably be a very dull gaming experience. Finally it is quite unforgiving to newcomers and I found myself dying on a regular basis early on, although that may say more about my own gaming ability than the game itself.
All in all then, playing the latest Deathspank adventure as a newbie to the series has been a fulfilling experience. I can honestly say I’ve enjoyed it and when all is said and done surely that’s the most important thing, gaming should give you a release from the everyday pressures of life and not on;y does ‘The Baconing’ do that, it does it while making you laugh like a lunatic. While it’s not without problems and will almost certainly infuriate from time to time, overall the good comfortably outweighs the bad and I’m certain this latest Deathspank outing will delight first timers and veteran players alike.