Review: South Park: The Stick of Truth
Obsidian made me respect their authoritah. They managed to put together a TV show into a fun and fully functional video game. I guess it helps when the creators of South Park, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, actually help write the script and provide voice acting for their characters. What really makes this game so enjoyable is it’s deception. It forces you to forget you’re playing a video game instead of just watching a really long episode of South Park.
South Park: The Stick of Truth is a JRPG involving almost every character from South Park. You play as the new kid who moves to South Park in the middle of an imaginary fantasy battle between the children to wield the Stick of Truth. In their fantasy game, anyone who possesses this stick artifact is the one who “controls time and space”. As the new kid, you choose your path to follow the humans or the elves and fight for it’s possession. From there, you’ll go through the most bizarre and hilarious RPG ever created.
If you’re not a fan of the sick sense of humor South Park, this game isn’t going to change your mind. It’ll probably strengthen your hatred of the show. The Stick of Truth is the most vulgar video game I’ve ever played. I’m not going to spoil much of anything here, but there’s something for everyone to be offended by. Jokes are made about politics, races, creeds, science, sexual orientation, women and anything else the general public can be offended by. The show is offensive, but this game is leaps and bounds more offensive.
My favorite thing about the game is the look. It looks exactly like the show. You create your character and then you can customize it with anything you want. Every cutscene involving you will have whatever costume or weapon you’ve chosen. I’d even say this is the best game graphically. Any game can strive for that realistic 3D look and fail in some area. South Park strives to look exactly like the show and it’s spot on.
While the graphics are great, there’s a problem with what Jimmy would call stu-stu-stuttering. Every time a new scene is loaded, the game will autosave which seems to cause the game to stutter. It’s a little more annoying depending on the amount of characters on screen. It’s also worth noting here the loading screens are frequent. Whenever you walk to a new section of town, there’s a loading screen. They don’t last long at least, but they’re frequent enough to annoy.
To add to the environment, the music and voice acting is fitting. Voice actors from the show are in the game doing the game justice to emulate the sound of the show. Every quest and random character has lines of spoken dialog. It’s perfect for those who can’t read!
The game feels like an entire season of South Park more than a few episodes. I noticed some people blowing through the game in about 10-hours, but that wasn’t the case for me. I’m pretty good at video games and it took me closer to 20-hours. And I still didn’t want it to end just yet. It’s a fantastic game and part of it’s because you’re sucked into the story and environment.
Exploring South Park is rewarding in itself. Almost every location from the show is awaiting to be explored. From South Park Elementary to Canada, it’s all there. Every building you run across has some form of interaction, some leading to hilarious surprises. In a lot of JRPGs, every building you could enter to look around or talk to strangers. South Park decided to explore a more realistic approach for strangers not locking their front doors. Mild spoiler, but you may try walking through someone’s front door only to find a man in the middle of self-pleasure.
When you first meet Cartman, you must choose a class to play as: fighter, mage, thief, or Jew. Yes, Jew. There’s not a lot of differences between the classes, outside of those related to their bonus stats and skills. As a Jew class, my attacks did better with holy damage and being beat down didn’t effect me as much.
Inventory management is relatively easy to navigate and decipher which items are best for your character. You’ll constantly be switching out weapons and armor as there’s plenty of gear to loot. Most every item also has mod slots for enhancing the item’s stats. You may be fighting an enemy that’s weak to a certain elemental attack. As long as you have an open mod slot, you can simply attach that bonus element damage to your weapon to really beef up your damage.
Not only will you switch out gear constantly, but you may spend time changing out your character’s features with all the costumes you’ll unlock. You want balls on chin? You can add balls on chin. You can do what you want. There’s a tremendous range of different hair styles, facial features, and eye wear to keep your character looking fresh for every battle and cutscene.
The juicy bits come from the story, but the game’s progress requires some fighting. The combat system borrows a lot of it’s strategy from the Paper Mario series. You’ll need to time your attacks or blocks by pressing an action button at the appropriate time. You’ll have indications that help with the timing. Doing so will provide you with either a strong attack or a stronger block. Another feature that helps with the combat is how it deals with “trash mobs”. Trash mobs are enemies you run into that just feel like a waste of time to fight. You can skip out on a turn-based battle by killing them before you enter the battle. As an example, if you see a puddle they’re standing in you can usually find a way to electrocute them with the surroundings. This really helps with the pacing of the game. And it’s a quick way to get XP.
In JRPG tradition, there’s a party system and summon system. Your two-boy party will consist of the wonderful children from your elementary class. Each member of your group has a select number of character-related specials and attacks. Butters is the first real partner you have, and a paladin for the game’s sake. His abilities range from healing (simply patting you on the back and saying “There, there.”) to crushing foes using a holy hammer. If not using normal or magical attacks, you also have the ability to summon different South Park characters into a non-boss battle once an in-game day. If you’re a fan of Final Fantasy, summoning in a creature or being is one of the highlights of a battle. They’re amazing to look at while also providing massive damage to your enemy. South Park‘s summons provide massive damage and are laugh-worthy. Mr. Slave shoving an enemy up his butt just never gets old, silly.
I would recommend South Park as a runner for best game of the year already. It does everything it set out to do. It’s not just because it’s a great South Park game. It’s because it’s actually a really good game. The stuttering might be a turn-off for some gamers, as will the offensive humor. But getting past those issues will lead to a fantastic adventure set in a small Colorado town we love and hate.