Before you read this, ask yourself do you remember the last South Park game? The one with you running around shooting turkeys? Also, can you remember the last time Obsidian released a game that was as good as Fallout?
Ok now those questions are out of the way, let’s talk about South Park: The Stick of Truth. To get straight to the point, after so many delays, this game truly delivers in ways that most games licensed on TV shows or movies usually don’t. Quite frankly, if you have never followed South Park in the 17 years that it’s been on the air, this isn’t for you and it’s rare to find a gamer or a follower of geek culture who hasn’t followed it at some point.
As many of you already know, you play as ‘the new kid’ in your quest to defeat the ‘drow elves’ who have stolen the titular object from Cartman, the Grand Wizard of the Kingdom of Kupa Keep, also known as the KKK. Yes, you read that correctly. So your quest is to go out and recover the stick with help from the South Park gang.
The game feels like a long version of a South Park episode which surprisingly, never gets old. My biggest fear was 3 hrs in you would start to hear some of the same tired jokes but if anything, you are still discovering new locations and characters as well as learning new mechanics. I really loved the fact that no matter where you go in the game, you can find something that has been a part of the South Park lore even from its inception whether it be an item you can sell or something you can use such as chin-balls, the Okama Gamesphere and even cheesy poofs. It’s really one of those times where you can say if it’s in the show, it’s in the game.
As far as the gameplay is concerned, South Park plays out similar to a JRPG just more coherent. You have a central hub (Cartman’s yard) and the town that you throughout while questing as well as many sub-quests that come along. As you wander, you will have random battles occasionally with enemies in a similar combat style to JRPGs, just more fun. Looking at how this game is set up, it’s a really good thing that Obsidian had a hand in it and even with the delays, you can tell it was worth the wait. Most of the menus are easy to navigate and once you know where everything is on the menus it’s easy to find. South Park also shamelessly borrows from a few other games and as you play it’s really transparent but it wouldn’t be South Park if it didn’t. For instance, at one point you learn the Dragonshout and it is HILARIOUS! Trust me when I say it’s nowhere near the same as Skyrim but it’s deadly when used.
As far as issues, there are very few. On occasion, the game can glitch when you go into an area and the music cuts out and while it’s not game breaking it can jarring to go into silence and back again to music. Also from time to time when it comes to using the left stick to navigate the radial menus occasionally it gets hard to do because it’s not as precise to do as in say Diablo. Sometimes I want to choose one action and I get bogged down trying to get out of the wrong one and choose the correct one. Also while the fast travel option is a plus, occasionally finding where you need to go for your main quest may keep you on the map a little longer because even if you zoom out completely you may not always see the point you need to go in. Lastly, combat can be a bit clunky. Also, while it may take a bit of timing to press the buttons just right occasionally the AI can be too aggressive and unforgiving in making mistakes. Poor Butters has been the subject of much abuse due to my slow reactions, but hey, it’s South Park. And lastly, which also may be debated, some may not like the fact that your characters can heal up after battles which may make the game ‘too easy’. With the way this game plays in a JRPG fashion you would almost expect that after each battle you would have to use potions to heal up but nope. You fight and when you win, you heal and you move on. Think about it though, this is a meta LARPing game that you are playing with the ‘neighborhood kids’ for a stick.
All in all, South Park succeeds here where it has failed in previous games as well as where many licensed TV games have failed. Every but of the show can be found here be it audio cues from Terrence and Phillip on television, to objects found in Mrs. Cartman’s room or even if you take a visit to the City Wok. Sometimes just standing idly by can produce hilarious results. It doesn’t get old and stale and it crashed through boundaries just as much as the show has done for years. This game is the South Park game that fans have waited for and to be honest, it throws down the gauntlet for other long time animated adult franchises such as The Simpsons and Family Guy to up their game. Both have also had games with The Simpsons probably the better of the 2 but South Park is outshining them all. Even though it’s early, it’s quite possible that this game may be an unsung game of the year so let’s remember it come fall as newer shinier games comes along. You don’t get too many games that does justice like this does.
4.8 out of 5.