It’s got all the poop jokes you can handle…and more!
Good news South Park fans! This is the game you hoped for. Not that you needed my recommendation, but I can happily support the purchase you’ve already made. South Park: The Stick of Truth (SoT) is a competent RPG built on a lovingly crafted homage to the TV series. All the old characters, favorite jokes, and iconic locations join new humor built around the silliness that is video games. SoT feels like a playable episode that is sure to delight casual to stalwart fans.
The core of the game is a fairly simple RPG. Players control Douchebag, a mute child who recently moved to South Park under mysterious circumstances and runs across the South Park gang after looking for someone to play with. Combat is turn based with attacks linked to timed button presses to do additional damage. Enemies have specific resistances and vulnerabilities that the player must exploit to win. In addition to combat, the game has some small puzzle mechanics left around town. There are treasure chests to find, chinpokomen to collect, and secret passages to explore. While the base gameplay is simplistic, that also makes it approachable. SoT’s gameplay is designed to provide a base level of fun and interactivity and then get out of the way for the flavor of the world. In this task, it succeeds. SoT isn’t the most innovative of games, but it is fun.
The real star of SoT is the world. Chock full of classic locations and references, the South Park of SoT has every favorite joke and character from the TV series. Quests exist largely as call backs to nostalgia like ManBearPig or the underpants gnomes. The newer jokes largely speak to the video game audience and are spot on. In many ways, the mere existence of South Park in a RPG is a criticism of the genre. RPGs, particularly those hailing from Japan, often rely on extremely young heroes who use magical powers to defeat terrible foes with little adult intervention. SoT does all that, but takes it to the extreme. The heroes are younger, the magic is farts, and the terrible foes are hobos, fetuses, and zombie Nazis. South Park was built on satirizing the world in general, but it seems tailor made for video games.
The game isn’t perfect. As my previous article alluded to, SoT lacks the basic polish one would expect from a full priced game. Quests can be completed before they are assigned, characters utter the same catch phrases ad nauseum, and many of the game elements feel like a jumble of mechanics from better games. This never rises to the point of killing the fun, but many of these issues break the flow of the game. It’s hard to laugh at the humor of collecting underpants when I only discovered their purpose much later in the game. At that point, SoT becomes less about a given quest or the character of the world it presents and more about making sure you search every drawer. Again, not game wrecking, but disappointing.
South Park: The Stick of Truth is exactly what it was meant to be. It is a fun romp through the world of the TV series and a constant call back to the show’s greatest hits. Your mileage with the game is tied very much to your enjoyment of South Park. For hardcore and casual fans, this is the game you’ve been waiting for. For those who have never seen the show, check out a few episodes first. For those who hate the show, you’ll hate the game too.