When we think of games based off a film or TV show, most of the time it’s something that acts as a source of quick cash to boost popularity of the aforementioned show or film, or appeal to a casual audience. On the whole, they’re never that great. We’ve seen the likes of The Simpsons
and Family Guy
given full retail releases, and now it’s South Park
’s turn. South Park: The Stick of Truth
has been delayed time and time again, and when something has been delayed as much as this, you can’t help but wonder if it’s worthy of a release at all. Does this trip to the mountain town prove that multiple delays are a good thing or is it a complete stinker?
You are the new kid. You have moved to the small and quaint town of South Park with your parents to settle into a new life. A quick and easy-to-use character creation tool will have you choosing your character's skin tone, hair, and initial outfit, and soon enough, Mum and Dad will urge you to venture out of the house to make some much-needed friends. Shortly after meeting one of the well-known locals, the first friend is made and the ultimate quest to become the coolest kid on the block begins.
Having an engaging story of epic scale is one of the core elements of an RPG and The Stick of Truth
actually manages to do this rather well. The story plays out in a way that is seen (to outsiders) as the kids of the town enjoying some fun and games. However, the story does take a number of unexpected twists and turns that are typical of an RPG. It’s not an emotional sob-fest, but this is South Park
we’re talking about here. Wizards? Check. Elves? Check. Relics of unimaginable power that can control the universe? Check. The game looks exactly like the show as well, so it feels like you’re watching/controlling an actual episode, especially in the cutscenes. It is clear that South Park
’s creators, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, have put in a lot of work with the developers to make this a true South Park
Another aspect that is implemented in full force in The Stick of Truth
is loot. Whenever an enemy is defeated, they will drop a number of items both useful and pointless. Equipment is plentiful throughout the game, and you’ll constantly be finding new armour and weapons to kit your out character. As you explore the neighbourhood from top to bottom, new chests and locations will be found with plenty of shiny items for the taking. From alien probing devices to giant pink vibrators, the items fit perfectly with the style and humour that we expect from South Park
. You will always be encouraged to switch up your gear due to the sheer amount there is to find, and, with the addition of equipment patches and strap-ons to upgrade your setup, there's a simple yet deep system which will keep you managing your inventory.
The inventory menu itself is also very simple. Your character, Douchebag/The New Kid, is presented to you with each equipment category circled around him. It is extremely easy to navigate through the menu and change your gear, as each piece of equipment clearly indicates its stats and whether it is better than what you’re currently wielding. This way there’s no time being wasted on staring at your inventory for hours and trying to work out what gear you should be wearing.
The gameplay of The Stick of Truth
is turn-based. At first, it may have seemed odd for South Park
to take on this kind of approach, but it proves to be fun and unique. You are allowed only one buddy to accompany you at all times. Just like other turn-based games, whoever hits first before the battle gets the starting turn. The game gives you a tutorial at the beginning to explain how the combat works, and although it may seem complicated for those who haven’t experienced this type of game before, it eventually becomes easy to get the hang of. When it’s the enemy’s turn, you’ll be given the chance to block with the opportunity to reduce damage by pressing the correct button at the right moment. When it’s your turn, a consumable item can be used before attacking if you wish. You’ll then have access to all of your abilities to unleash on your foes. As with the rest of the game, these abilities fit perfectly with the crude humour of South Park
. Whether that’s causing a bleeding effect from an enemy’s “sensitive area”, or having Cartman ignite his own farts with a cigarette lighter, combat provides a comedic aspect to battle, even though it soon wears off after you've seen a grown man poo himself for the hundredth time. Your standard attacks with melee and ranged weapons also give you a number of different options, so a slight bit of strategic thinking is needed to be able to take out your enemies quickly and efficiently.
When you're not in the heat of battle, you will be navigating through different environments and completing side quests to help out other members of the community. These other quests aren't high in number and there is no unneeded filler to lengthen out the game. In addition to the RPG tropes of leveling up and gaining new abilities, you can become friends with the residents of South Park, either by completing a task for them or just by talking to them as they're found. As you acquire more friends, you will unlock perk points that can be spent on a perk of your choice which in turn will aid you in battle.
As you traverse different areas you will be required to utilise your abilities to make it through to the next section. Unfortunately, the game can be a little obscure in what it tells you to do. For example, one section has you in a clinic and to get past, you have to shrink yourself and walk through a hole in a man's body. This wasn't clear at first, but it depends entirely on how vigilant the player is when exploring. These little signs are something to constantly watch for when finding new locations.
The comedy of South Park
is what made it a success years ago, and as you play The Stick of Truth
you will see that comedy delivered in spades. The story provides an abundance of hilarious yet very crude moments. With a cast of well over a hundred, you’ll be seeing all sorts of characters as you go about the town. If you aren't a fan of the show you probably won’t get as much enjoyment out of this as others, but never in a game have we seen farting of this magnitude. The fact that the magic system is based completely on farting is a good enough sign that sophistication isn't the game's strongest point. If this type of comedy wasn't present it simply wouldn't be true to the TV show. Cutscenes will have you laughing out loud numerous times as you wonder how much more outrageous the game could get next. Matt and Trey have managed to write many characters into the story, so you'll be seeing Mr. and Mrs. Hankey, Al Gore, and the farting Canadians, Phillip and Terrance in all their glory. The turn-based combat may not be enough to convince those who aren't well-acquainted with the show, but if you like a turn-based game, you could find yourself appreciating South Park
even more. The game even pokes fun at The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
in an extremely obvious way that could only be pulled off in South Park
The many delays of The Stick of Truth
may have made it more of an enjoyable and authentic experience, but a couple of glitches still managed to slip through. The dramatic music played during battle randomly decided to cease for a few fights towards the end of the game before mysteriously returning. There are also occasional frame rate issues as a boss battle finishes. The worst bug, however, presented an indefinite loading screen which required quitting to the dashboard and reloading the save. This was the only major glitch and, aside from that, the game runs smoothly.
If you reside outside of North America, like this particular reviewer, you will have the misfortune of witnessing multiple censored sections of the game. Some cutscenes and minigames will be replaced with a picture of a face-palming statue and a caption explaining what you're missing. This was funny at first, because it showed that Matt and Trey didn't want Europe or Australia to miss out. However, once that statue appeared for a fourth time, it became slightly irritating and it genuinely felt like something was actually missing. It doesn't completely ruin the game, though, and we get to see plenty of that offensive South Park
humour. The second half of the game luckily has no face-palming statues.
As it's South Park
, we expect the achievement list to mirror how funny and rude the show is, and that's exactly what we got. Although it's a creative-sounding list, it is essentially your "collect this", "use this ability 'X' number of times" and "do this specific thing" kind of fare. It's not a hard list by any means, but some achievements will have you searching high and low to grab everything, namely the collectibles. If you aren't careful enough, quite a few can also be missed, so multiple playthroughs will be needed. On the whole, it's nothing too daunting. Just be prepared to fart on a lot of people in the process.
SummarySouth Park: The Stick of Truth
is a very well-crafted game. If you're a fan of the show, consider it a must buy. If you're not, it's hard to fully recommend. With the exact look of the show, interestingly thought-out gameplay, and crude and offensive humour left, right and centre, it's the best South Park
game yet. Unlike many TV and film-based games of this generation, this game had a lot of work put into it and it's very faithful to its source material. The turn-based gameplay fits well, and it certainly is a memorable trip to the mountain town of South Park.
The reviewer spent approximately 16 hours playing through all of the main quest line, exploring South Park, completing side quests, and generally farting about, as well as earning 40 of the game's 50 achievements. A copy of the game was provided courtesy of the publisher.