Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
Platforms: PC, Xbox 360, PS3
Release Date: March 4, 2014
Rating: M for Mature
This review is based on the PC version of the game
Whether or not South Park: The Stick of Truth is the game for you can be answered with this question—do you like the South Park TV show? If so, there's absolutely no reason for you not to pick up one of the most irreverent, crass, clever and humorously-written RPGs ever made. If not, then you should probably stop reading because this game takes South Park's signature mature humor to gross new heights; no holds are barred and Trey Stone and Matt Parker put it all out there, for better or worse. This is easily the best South Park game ever made and may very well be one of the best interpretations of a TV/movie franchise translated to the video game world.
The Stick of Truth finds our motley band of kids attempting their own live-action role-playing game (LARP). The whole cast, from series leaders like Cartman to the more obscure folks like Mr. Hankey's kids, all make some sort of appearance throughout. Very few cameos are left out and a lot of the game's best moments come from surprise appearances and the hilarious quests they often bring. Players take on the role of the New Kid in town. He's essentially nameless, save for a nickname rank you'll have to discover for yourself. You can choose one of four classes for New Kid, ranging from the classic Warrior to the rather un-politically correct Jew. With a class name like the latter, you can guess how the rest of the game is going to play out.
Gameplay is fairly straightforward; you navigate a faithfully re-created South Park as a 2D side-scrolling adventure. New Kid will normally travel with one companion of your choosing who'll provide the occasional quip or advice. There's a fast-travel system in place that unlocks more locations as you continue to explore. Most buildings can be entered (though some will have...interesting occupants) and will have various hidden items and quests available. Later on you'll also unlock an alien teleportation probe that allows you to reach previously unavailable spots.
Battles are initiated by clicking and attacking enemies you come across or by walking up to them. Combat is turn-based, but with the addition of minor quick-time events similar to the Mario RPG games. Attacks are usually straight-forward and come with some fun animations. The best attacks are the one-off, single-use screen-clearers you can find by exploring South Park; the best of which is Mr. Slave's assault, but I won't go into detail on that as it has to be seen to be believed!
Loot is also fairly stream-lined. You'll find or buy all manner of weapons, clothes, equipment and patches that add buffed effects. Some quests will require you to wear certain outfits, including the Goth clothes. It's an amusing nod to some of the unique characters you'll find and doesn't always feel like fetch quests. I seldom needed to buy gear as enemies often dropped better stuff for me to use. In Canada, you'll find even more equipment to use; you'll need to exchange American cash for the Canadian currencies.
The quality of The Stick of Truth's quests is almost always stellar. Some battles can be on the aggravating side, but when you get to fight Al Gore as ManBearPig, it's hard to complain. Of course, the writing and cutscenes are especially well-done. In fact, whole game is basically one entire, 12-hour South Park episode. It matches the show's content and aesthetics so well as to be a near perfect interpretation of the source material.
Not all of the game's segments are the most thrilling, though; Canada's portion coming to mind. While the trip up north is a fun tribute to old, turn-based sprite RPGs, there just isn't enough to do in Canada. That said, I'm still glad they included it because some of the dialogue is just as funny as the stuff you'll find back in South Park. It would also be nice if the super-attacks didn't have to be found each of the game's three days in order to use them but I'm just grousing at this point.
As I've said before, The Stick of Truth is a near perfect translation of the South Park shows. The entire game looks exactly like the show and the attention to detail is astonishing. There are scores of Easter eggs for fans of the show, and South Park is never for want of comedic incidents. There are a few bugs that have likely been patched out, including rats not leaving certain pathways for you to advance or text not triggering properly. I did have one game-halting moment when performing an operation in a certain clinic (can't spoil it) as the game refused to register my button presses, though I finally managed to get around it and, ironically, encountered even more bugs right after. Not the most fun I've ever had, but the game was smooth sailing from there.
The audio is also stellar, using the voice cast from the show. Its music is whimsical and perfectly suits the game's tone. Just like the audio and visuals, the writing is consistently excellent and somehow manages to make the game's jokes feel fresh and fun throughout the 12-hour playtime. It's not always perfect, and some of the jokes border on going well past boundaries, but then again, this is a South Park video game. Would you expect anything less?
South Park: The Stick of Truth is incredibly accessible and offers a rollicking, hilarious, and shocking good time, and for around $40 (or under if you wait for a deal), you can experience one of my newest favorite games. While the combat isn't exactly deep and the humor can be a tad excessive at times, there are so many reasons to love a game created for the South Park fan. This is an adventure that knows no boundaries, either in taste or fun. Don't miss out!
+ Incredibly well-written and animated
+ Cameos are non-stop
+ Plays exactly like the show
+ Humorous plot and clever jokes
+ It's fan-service of the good kind
- Humor can push a few boundaries
- Older versions suffer from some bugs
Overall Score: 9 (out of 10)
South Park: The Stick of Truth is an offensively amusing good time, packed with content and a love for the show.