The Diablo IV Double Down beta promotion is here. It’s time to find out: Is a beta code worth your soul? Or clogged arteries?

There's the rare occasion when a video game marketing ploy comes along that is too tempting to ignore. Such is the case with KFC's Diablo IV Double Down early beta promotion. You find yourself unable to turn away from the hot mess. Like staring at the sun too long, or gawking at a car crash as you drive past.

Whether it's EA's 'Sin to Win' Dante's Inferno debacle or Acclaim offering $10,000 to the first parents to name their newborn baby Turok, video game promotion has always walked a weird and fine line. And while on the offset, the US-based fried chicken chain offering a beta code to anyone willing to try their legendarily maligned, fowl-based mockery of God isn't so horrible. After all, it's just a sandwich.

Or is it? People need to know and is here to delve into the dark depths so that others will not. Much like Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy, so too shall I plunge into the abyss. We shall see what circle of hell could contain a 1200 calorie meal with meat where its buns should be.

Is the promise of early beta access worth my mortal soul?

Double Down: A history

The original Double Down advertisement in 2010.
The original Double Down advertisement in 2010.

Novelty sandwiches as promotion is nothing new to the world of fast food. From gigantic pizzas to taco shells made of Doritos, it's seen as not trying if your brand isn't attempting to stray from God's light with food abominations. However, KFC has always been an outlier in this regard. An ill-begotten attempt at rebranding as "healthy" in the mid 00's was as wild as the home of Colonel Sanders was willing to get.

And, in that case: The "grilled" chicken was not only less healthy for you than their normal offerings, it also could give you cancer?

Needing a boost in the fast food wars, KFC was inspired by a food hoax as their next big thing. A half-rumor, half-joke on the internet began circulating about a sandwich from the chain featuring two fried chicken breasts as buns. In late 2009 the Double Down appeared in two test markets before vanishing once more.

<em>An announcement or a warning?</em>
An announcement or a warning?

Like it had never even existed at all. A fever dream. Or maybe a nightmare, revealed.

Joke turned reality

And yet, it would come back and in full force. Initially as part of an April Fool's joke in 2010, the Double Down went on sale, much to the horror and delight of bloggers, YouTubers, and the general consumer. To quote The Consumerist: "The Original Recipe sandwich will set you back about 540 calories, 32g of fat and 1380mg of sodium. The not-as-bad-for-you Grilled Double Down totals 460 calories, 23g of fat and 1430mg of sodium."

The novelty non-sandwich would return on and off for the next decade, usually with an announcement that sounded more like a threat than anything else. "The Double Down is back!"

Thanks for the warning.

While it vanished from American menus in 2014, it remained a staple of KFC's around the world. Africa, Canada, and Japan featured the Double Down on its regular menu for a time.

However, none compares to the love that Australia had for the item, calling it simply "The Double" and featuring a tagline saying "make time for mantime."

The Diablo IV Double Down promotion

A dark cloud enveloped the land, and an evil omen from the past arose to challenge heroes once more. It was in January of this year when Reddit discovered the Double Down would be making a return. However, this time it would usher in its presence with a promotion featuring the upcoming release of Diablo IV.

Before the game's release in June it will be a number of open betas, including an early access test. This beta release is available to those who preorder the game. However, another avenue for entering Hell arose in the form of the Diablo IV Double Down promotion. Buy the demon sandwich, get in the beta. Easy enough, right?

Well, that is how Satan tempts us, isn't it? And so, with a mighty need to get in the beta and having not figured out my lunch plans yet, I turned my face from God. The only way to fight true evil is to confront it head on, steel yourself, and double down on your convictions.

I would venture into the devil's pit and send my stomach to places it had never been before.

The sandwich in question

<em>Inflation has hit the Double Down hard. Credit: Will Jagielski-Harrison</em>
Inflation has hit the Double Down hard. Credit: Will Jagielski-Harrison

And so, I ventured out into the cold winter of rural, central Ohio for my lunch. The meal had to be ordered via the KFC app in order to qualify for the beta code. Retrieving the meal was simple enough, so we'll give KFC credit where it's due. Having obtained my caloric loot I began to investigate its inner-trappings.

First, for those that care: The calorie information. Curiously, KFC's own nutrition information guide which is required by federal law does not actually list the Double Down. However, thanks to the power of the internet we know that it contains:

1 g
1 g
37 g
11 g
1 g
52 g
125% 1880 mg
Other constituents
150 mg

Naturally, I got a diet soda with the meal as to retain my waifish figure. It was at this moment of returning home with my food that KFC emailed me the code for the beta. I could have just stopped there. No need to eat the devilwich and risk life, limb, nor future clogged arteries.

But... I mean, I paid twelve bucks. In for a penny, in for a pound of chicken breast. That's what my grandmother always said. And so, I ventured onward.

The Double Down taste test

<em>Waiting at the mouth of eternity. Credit: Will Jagielski-Harrison</em>
Waiting at the mouth of eternity. Credit: Will Jagielski-Harrison

In pure contempt, the Colonel stared at me. Almost as if he dared me to open this Pandora's Box of flour and animal parts. I've come this far, there's no turning back.

A side note: The new KFC fries are actually quite good. Battered and seasoned with the same 11 secret herbs and spices as their chicken, the fries are lowkey God-tier.

<em>The sandwich, revealed. Credit: Will Jagielski-Harrison</em>
The sandwich, revealed. Credit: Will Jagielski-Harrison

And thus, the greasy behemoth lay before me. Like the heroes of Diablo 3 preparing to take on the eponymous fire lord in a final battle for the fate of all things, so I sat ready to devour my enemy. It's surface, slick and shiny with untold amounts of fryer grease. White american cheese covering the inside like a protective shield. The most limp, anemic fast food bacon I've ever laid eyes upon.

Another note: This sandwich was ordered without its stock "Colonel's Mayo" applied, as mayonnaise is the devil's condiment and the Diablo IV Double Down is already evil enough as-is.

<em>SHAME. SHAME. SHAME. Credit: Will Jagielski-Harrison</em>
SHAME. SHAME. SHAME. Credit: Will Jagielski-Harrison

I creaked open the sandwich like a rusted shut, forgotten basement door. It's insides are pathetically laid bare for all the world to see. In the eyes of both man and God, I have shamed the Double Down.

And now that I have broken it spiritually, I would proceed to masticate and break it physically.

Yeah, but how is it?

Finally, the verdict:

It's fine. Not too dry. The bacon didn't need to be there, but then again: When does anything ever really need bacon?

Wait, that's it?

I mean, yeah? It's just fast food, my dude. Would I order it again? Probably not. I've certainly had worse chicken-based fast food items. This is especially true in a post-chicken sandwich-wars world where Popeye's opened the floodgates. Every restaurant and their mother has a chicken sandwich now, most of them not particularly good.

<em>Much like the old king, Allant from Demons Souls, the Double Down is left as a shell of its former glory when truly revealed. Credit: Will Jagielski-Harrison</em>
Much like the old king, Allant from Demons Souls, the Double Down is left as a shell of its former glory when truly revealed. Credit: Will Jagielski-Harrison

If anything, the Diablo IV Double Down showcases that the most interesting thing about the restaurant--and the chain, by extension--was the promotion. In a new internet reality where fast food chains have social media presences that tweet about pro wrestling and yell at one another, the real battle isn't the food. It's grabbing a hold of the public's attention long enough to remind them the world is still terrible and that fast food will always be here.

Huh. Well that's...

A letdown? Yeah, that's the Double Down for you. All hype, and nothing but a bit of greasy meat and a beta code I could have gotten just by preordering the game. But it's not about the destination, is it?

Much like Dante's Inferno, the journey is the thing that matters most. It's not where we end up, but where we've been that defines who we are.

Stick around next week for our thoughts on the Diablo IV beta and a preview of what players can expect come June when the game releases on PC and console.

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