Fart humor, liberal use of derogatory slurs, assaulting you peers…sound fun? Well, good luck getting away with that unless you can return to Middle School.
I can’t… they won’t let me go back.
I don’t want to talk about it.
Luckily, South Park: The Stick of Truth is available for those of us who yearn to jump back into the crude humor that rings throughout those social circles!
South Park is always at its best when it highlights elements of pop-culture and ridicules them. South Park: The Stick of Truth accomplishes this by using the very medium of video games to make fun of video game tropes and mechanics. The game starts out as all of its RPG contemporaries do: with an introductory character customization segment that molds the avatar you will use in exploring the world that awaits you, in this case–the strange town of South Park (with some other notable side-tracks). You start the game as “the new kid”, a mute protagonist like all other RPG heroes before him. Minutes after starting the game, the new kid is roped into battling other kids and residents of South Park in order to obtain the “Stick of Truth”–igniting an adventure made epic through the “play-pretend” lens created by the neighborhood kids.
With a simple, somewhat nostalgic turn-based battle mechanic in place, the foundation is laid for an absurd, highly entertaining story to fill in the spaces between all of the battles. Like all great episodes, the story goes from simple RPG/Fantasy parody before flying off the rails into government conspiracy, abortion humor, and as always…Canada jokes. The game results in many laugh-out-loud moments mixed with simple, entertaining gameplay that comes together to create a faithful–if not the most faithful video game adaptation we’ve seen yet.
Mechanics-wise, the game has all of the standard fare for an RPG game: customization options, weapon alterations, class perks, classes, armor customization, along with pp and mana-powered battles. The game unfortunately adopts many RPG weaknesses along with the standard fare, however. I never switched much from my loyal pal, Butters the Paladin through most of the game since he was the partner I’d found most helpful in battle–causing me to miss out on a lot of the hilarious skills provided by the other party members. The game never manages to evolve the battle mechanic all that much by its conclusion–and while the mechanic isn’t necessarily broke, that doesn’t mean it couldn’t uses some fixing. It seems as if the battle mechanic only exists in the game as a way for the game to avoid becoming a simple click-and-point adventure clone. This results in an incredible interactive South Park experience and only a plain, basic RPG experience. Finally, the game has a bit of trouble maintaining a consistent difficulty level. Around the the beginning of the game, I frequently died in battle, but by mid-way I’d become an unstoppable mage–which was great for story progression, but it made the simple battles seem that much more soulless.
South Park: The Stick of Truth is a great game for South Park and video game fans alike–filled with great absurd parody and hilarious quests. The game always had me excited to explore more of what bits the developers and writers left in the game for me: whether it be side quests, cameos from series characters or classic songs from South Park episodes–unfortunately, the only break in the momentum built by the great story content were the lacking battles. So, if you’re looking for an entertaining mockery of video games, seek the Stick of Truth, but if you’re hoping for a highly-engaging RPG, you may want to stick to the game Stick of Truth is mocking.