Ever wanted to roam the streets of South Park, explore its landmarks and befriend its inhabitants? Then you need to play South Park: The Stick of Truth. This game is a collaborative effort between the show's creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker and Obsidian Entertainment and like the cartoon, is not for the faint of heart nor young children.
You, a fourth grader, and your parents just moved to the quiet remote mountain town of South Park. Your parents insist that you go out and make friends with the neighbourhood's children. The first iconic character you meet is Butters who then takes you to Cartman's backyard - I mean the Kingdom of Kupa Keep. Soon after, you are wrapped up in the age old war between the humans and the elves for the legendary Stick of Truth for he who has the Stick, controls the universe. Get ready for the LARPing session of your life and a lot of fart jokes.
South Park: The Stick of Truth plays like a classic RPG with a main quest that follows the story, side objectives and quests that you can complete to unlock more powers and equipment, a turn-based combat system, character progression through a class system and loot, lots of loot spread all over the town.
As you explore South Park, you will befriend as many of the townspeople as you possibly can. Some will require for you to complete tasks (read: side quest) before they accept your friendship. The more friends you make, the more combat perks you'll unlock and you'll be quite the popular boy.
There are four classes to choose from: Fighter, Mage, Thief and Jew (read: Cleric). Each has a specific set of abilities that require Power Points to perform. As you level, you can upgrade these abilities to your liking. Gear is not class specific; you can equip pretty much anything you find as long as you meet the level requirement. Pay attention to the bonuses and equip whatever item suits your needs.
The combat system is turn based, however you are allowed to take two actions per turn: one support, like using an item, and one attack, like swinging your weapon in your enemy's face. I appreciated the flexibility this added to my combat tactics. Each weapon or ability has its own quick time event. For example, when your bow gleams, you have to hit a button at the right time to perform a power attack. You can block attacks by hitting another button just at the right moment. This may sound tedious, but I found it kept me on my toes and made combat much more interesting.
This is an authentic South Park experience: the story, the characters, the voice acting, the setting, the menus' design, the music, etc. No detail was overlooked. Matt Stone and Trey Parker said that they wanted to the game to look so much like the show that someone just walking in the room wouldn't realize you're playing a video game and not watching an episode of South Park. That's exactly what they achieved. They wrote a hilarious script and Obsidian turned it into an engaging RPG.
I loved how this game doesn't have the typical fantasy RPG setting yet plays just like one. It's really the characters' imagination that is bringing their story to life and turns South Park into a mystical and magical land. Cartman's backyard becomes the Kingdom of Kupa Keep. South Park Elementary becomes a full fledge dungeon complete with puzzles, hidden treasure and a boss fight. You, the new kid, Sir Douchebag, are invited to take part in their fantasy. Despite the mature subjects matters and a sophisticated gameplay, South Park: The Stick of Truth is basically, children at play.
The gameplay is great and offers good challenges whether it be in the boss fights or quest puzzles. Although this is quite the sophisticated RPG, the learning curve is not a steep as what is typical of the genre. The game is challenging enough to satisfy experienced gamers yet is simple enough to entice any South Park fan to play.
This is an authentic South Park experience meaning that if you're not a fan of the show, you most likely won't be a fan of this game. South Park's humour, although anchored in social and political commentary, is laced with swearing, sexual content and fecal matter. Nothing is taboo in Stone and Parker's world and their brand of comedy is not for everyone.
As great as it was to explore South Park and finally get a definite map of the place, I wish it didn't come with so many loading screens. Each time you enter a building, change neighbourhood or even cross the street, you are greeted by an albeit short but invasive loading screen. In the era of the seamless open worlds, these constant interruptions just seem like a step backward and hinder the game's flow.
South Park: The Stick of Truth offers fans the ultimate South Park experience and an epic adventure they'll never forget. It is well balanced as it is easy to learn yet offers great challenges to overcome. I thoroughly enjoyed playing through this game. If you love the show, give this RPG a try. If you hate the show, you'll probably want to play something else.