It’s good to be the king. For a while, anyway. With all his foes trampled into hotdog paste, those smelly orphans locked out of the castle, and all the delicious bacon he could possibly eat on speed-dial 24/7, DeathSpank – Hero to the Downtrodden! Vanquisher of Evil! Defender of Justice! Et cetera! – has discovered existential ennui in a big way. Sighhhhhhhh.
In a moment of boredom, he decides to try on all six of the mystical Thongs of Virtue at once, and in doing so, and by some topsy-turvy, inside-outy convolution of video game narrative exposition, accidentally creates a nefarious doppelgänger, The AntiSpank. Nevermind the logistics of that, it’s back to the hero business!
If you’ve played either or both of the previous DeathSpank games, there’s nothing much that’s new here. You’ll still be trotting around, making grand declarations about inconsequential things, committing a casual genocide of the local monster populations, and stuffing loads of things in your pockets as you go from one toilet joke to the next.
And that’s basically the most immediate problem with The Baconing. While there’s some truth to that aphorism about things that aren’t broken, there’s another aphorism about familiarity and contempt, and it’s particularly relevant when that now excessive familiarity has been fostered in the space of about a year.
Next up, there’s a bit of a focus on combat this time around, and honestly, combat was never really this series’ big seller. More pertinently, maybe, DeathSpank’s combat is actually sort of tedious, and when most of the game is made up of “go there, kill this”-type mission objectives, it quickly becomes a slog. Compounding this issue is the The Baconing’s unreasonable difficulty spikes, resulting in the kind of frustrating die/reload/repeat gameplay that makes you want to go out and knife your neighbour’s car tyres.
Dear Hothead, just wanted to say that attrition is the opposite of fun. Love, everybody.
The Baconing isn’t a total failure, though. I mean, the dialogue and humour is as sharp as ever and authentically LOL-worthy at times, the world design inimitably charming and vibrant, and for all its repetitive monotony, the game plays well enough, but by the third trip through this place, you’d think they might’ve come up with something new. The franchise’s concept isn’t altogether broken, perhaps, but it’s in desperate need of a makeover.