After many attempts at making a worthy South Park game, South Park: The Stick of Truth finally realizes all the potential that the television series had as a video game adaptation. It takes the laugh out loud comedy of Matt Stone and Trey Parker, and couples it with a thoroughly enjoyable role playing game experience from Obsidian Entertainment.
Regardless of your taste in video games, if you’re fan of the animated series, you’ll enjoy Stick of Truth. There’s just too much fan service layered on by Stone and Parker to ignore this traditional, yet unique RPG. And on the gameplay front, it’s some of Obsidian’s best work yet. A unique combat system, a ton of loot to discover, and a deep system of upgrades and customization options make the game a lot of fun to progress through. That said, South Park isn’t for everyone, and neither is Stick of Truth. This is a game that was made for fans of South Park and the heavy involvement of the series’ creators is evident throughout.
The Stick of Truth plays much like an interactive episode of South Park, putting you in the role of a completely customizable “New Kid”. You find yourself making fast friends with the instantly recognizable cast of the television series, who are embroiled in a war for the stick of truth. Nearly every character of South Park is introduced to you throughout the game. Whether you’ve been following the series for a couple of seasons, or all seventeen, you’ll recognize many faces and personalities in The Stick of Truth. Jokes from the television series will be brought back to life, Stone and Parker use the exact same brand of humor in The Stick of Truth that’s been used to make the television series so popular. South Park: The Stick of Truth is chocked full of its trademark low brow humor, which capitalizes on shock value. While Stick of Truth could certainly be a nine hour retrospective of the funny moments in the television series, it isn’t.
Laughs will only get you so far. In South Park’s case, maybe a little further than most, but when you consider that the game has about 10 hours of main story line content and countless more to spend finding all of the game’s secrets and side missions — joke writing alone isn’t going to get it done. Thankfully, Obsidian has created a passable RPG based around being a playable character in the South Park world. Is it the deepest of role playing games that has ever been made? No. It’s fairly streamlined affair, with just enough playable gamey elements to keep you from feeling like your watching a lengthy episode of South Park.
At it’s core, South Park: The Stick of Truth is a turn-based RPG with rhythm elments in attacking and defensive situations. Choose your attack, then when prompted, hit the right buttons — if you’re successful you’ll earn extra damage on your opponent or take less damage from an enemy attack. That’s the core gameplay, but there’s a lot more to it when you start digging into the many different buffs and debuffs, special abilities, enemy stances, and gross out moves. The combat in The Stick of Truth is fun, it’s not overly complex, and not overly simplistic. It keeps things interesting, and keeps you thinking.
There’s also a lot to explore in The Stick of Truth. There are plenty of puzzle elements that require exploration of the world, and of your abilities. Using certain skills will allow you to traverse deeper into the world of South Park, and it’s all tied into a progression system that should be maxed out by game’s end. Winning battles will net you experience points. These allow you to level up your character, increase stats, use better weapons, and purchase power-ups for your special moves. The Stick of Truth isn’t a grind. There’s a streamlined progression system that scales well with the game’s story, it’s definitely not the type of RPG that you’ll sink 100’s of hours into. If short, sweet, and to the point is your thing, The Stick of Truth will not disappoint.
South Park: The Stick of Truth is most certainly aimed at long time South Park fans. The brand of comedy and references to previous content from the animated series could be lost on the uninitiated, as will the ample opportunity to explore the many different areas of the game’s world. Looting and discovering the many hidden references to South Park is a large piece of the pie when it comes to enjoyment and getting the most out of this RPG. There’s so much minutiae that the true fans won’t have a chance to feel unfulfilled. These true fans will also be somewhat more lenient with the various glitches and bugs that seem to pop-up in the last-gen versions of the game. It’s not quite a masterpiece in technical design from Obsidian, a developer who’s grown a reputation for launching games with various bugs (yes, we still remember Fallout New Vegas). Stick of Truth features stuff like this, and it’s a shame. A rough framerate, and a lost save file were two of the worst bugs that we ran into, but the internet is reporting its fair share as well. There’s always room for a patch, and South Park: The Stick of Truth is gonna need one.
The Stick of Truth allows Stone and Parker to run with comedy that they might not be able to get away with on cable TV. It feels more outrageous in many spots than it ever has on Comedy Central. For fans of this brand of comedy, you’ll be hard pressed to go even a few moments without a funny reference, or outrageous moment. The risks the comedic duo took in the South Park movies are more in line with what can be found in The Stick of Truth. The humor is the star of the show, so long as your content with passable gameplay being your only roadblock to the next joke or collectible to reminisce over. Seventeen years in, we probably won’t see a better South Park game ever made.
South Park: The Stick of Truth
- Available On: PS4, Xbox One, PS3, X360, PC
- Published By: Ubisoft
- Developed By: Obsidian Entertainment
- Genre: RPG
- US Release Date: March 4th, 2014
- Reviewed On: Xbox 360
- Quote: "The humor is the star of the show, so long as your content with passable gameplay being your only roadblock to the next joke or collectible to reminisce over. Seventeen years in, we probably won’t see a better South Park game ever made."