South Park: The Stick of Truth, a game that many believed never would see the light of day, survived the bankruptcy of THQ and many push backs from the developers. We just kept getting trailer after trailer, getting more and more hype with never knowing if the game was going to make it to us. Again and again we got news: ” South Park: The Stick of Truth has been pushed back by another month” and in unison all gamers around the world sighed and dreamed of the day that we could actually get our hands on the first South Park game with hands on from the creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker. Then, early one morning we got the news that South Park had officially gone gold, it was finally time to actually become a kid in the small rural town of South Park, Colorado, and is it worth it? You better believe it is. South Park: The Stick of Truth is the first incredible RPG of the new year.
The story of The Stick of Truth pretty much unfolds in the same way as any television episode of South Park. The kids are playing an innocent kid’s game and it blows up into something bigger and crazy than the kids, or you, could ever imagine. Oh boy, does The Stick of Truth blow up in terms of story. The start of the story is you are a new kid moving into a new town, the town of South Park. Your parents are ecstatic to be living in a small rural town, and ask you if you remember “the incident” and this comes to be the first major running joke in the game. Your character never speaks, not once (well maybe once) does he ever talk to anyone in the world. It actually made the game so much more enjoyable than if they went the Mass Effect route and just made him say whatever vague thing you picked from a conversation wheel. After moving into this new town your parents force you to go outside and make friends. That is also your incredible power, you excel at making friends incredibly fast on Facebook. You eventually get drafted into a massive game of capture the flag mixed with dungeons and dragons. The teams are the humans, led by grand wizard Eric Cartman, vs the elves, led Kyle Broflovski. From there the story explodes into things involving Nazi zombies, fetuses attacking you, and just all around mayhem. Pretty much just a typical day for the town of South Park. The story is honestly one of the best South Park stories I have ever seen, better than ninety-percent of the episodes that have aired on TV. It feels like Matt Stone’s and Trey Parker’s magnum opus of South Park. I really don’t know if they will ever be able to top this story, it is beyond refreshing to finally have licensed game live up to and surpass the IP that it is originally based on. It really shows what a licensed game can be when the original creators are actively involved in it’s development.
The many side quests in the game involve many beloved characters from the show, with side quests to find underpants for the underpants gnomes, to helping Al Gore find ManBearPig. All of it feels like it belongs, unlike other RPG’s where the side quests feel like they come out of absolutely nowhere and just get shoved in your face. That is the best thing about the story and side stories of The Stick of Truth, they all feel like they belong and none of it feels out of place or forced. It just all flows incredibly nicely. Matt Stone and Trey Parker are also obvious fans of video games in general. Throughout the game there are a massive amounts of references to other games. The overall game is a nod to Dungeons and Dragons. There are many references to Skyrim including one of your magic spells, which are farts by the way, one of them called Dragon Shout in which you shoot a massive fart at your target and causing them Gross Out (poison) damage. With typical South Park fashion, if you do not find the show funny I urge you to stay away from this game. It is South Park’s humor to the extreme. There is frontal male nudity, bestiality, abortions being performed, a boss battle that takes place under two people having sex, and is just filled with every dirty thing you can probably think of. On the plus side, if you really enjoy South Parks humor, this is the game for you.
There are several classes in the game: Warrior, Mage, Thief, and Jew. All of them are pretty much your run of the mill fantasy classes. The warrior, as you could guess, is a straight up melee fighter with loads of health. The Mage is pretty much ranged damage spells and, as Cartman puts it, not as powerful as a wizard. The Thief, the class that I played the game as, is dependent on stunning and causing the target to bleed as well as attacking from the shadows and generally being sneaky. The Jew, the class probably most unique to the game, is a paladin of sorts. The developers describe him as “high risk/high reward.” I did not play much of the Jew, but his attacks are dependent on his health. The less health he has the more damage he has, but the less health he has the closer to death he is. I personally did not like this class, not because I am anti-Semitic, but because I am really bad at managing health like that. The classes don’t determine weapons or armor though. Even though I played as Thief I used two handed swords quite a bit just because their damage output was better than whatever one handed sword I had at the time. The armor in the game vary’s a lot from being armor that just gives you defense, to underwear that you put on your head that Grosses Out anyone who attacks you, to some armor that is just there for looks. I found that armor doesn’t matter all that much in battle other than the heavy ones. I used the plain Thief set for ninety-percent of my play through and did fine. It’s just one of those things where you mess around with it and see what armor set bonus you like more and fit your play style, there is something for everyone.
The gameplay is very standard to any turn based JRPG. You roam around South Park and as the enemies come up to you have a chance to hit them before combat which lets you go first, or if they hit you they go first. It is the actual combat that makes the game so enjoyable. The combat is very akin to Paper Mario or the Superstar Saga. Once you are in a battle you choose the abilities or attacks you want to do and your character and party members do them, but in order to do a decent amount of damage you have to time button hits. For example, Butters is a paladin who wields a hammer. He has an attack where he spins around and throws his hammer. In order to do that attack you must spin your left stick around and hit A when the hammer flashes, time it right and you will do a good amount of damage, mess it up and you will do hardly any. It may not be a new mechanic but it has rarely been seen outside the Mario RPG series which is a shame because it is a really good way of making what could be really boring turn based combat into much, much more. I found myself becoming much more engaged than I would be in any other turn based RPG where you just hit the command, attack, repeat again and again and again. The blocking was really the part that made me so involved. There are so many attacks where you have to block attack after attack and hit the A button right when you need to. It just felt good and made it feel like if you died, it was your fault that you didn’t block not that the enemies attack was super cheap like other turn based RPG. You can turn that bosses super wave attack that does nine billion damage into an attack that only does three-hundred.
There was one boss fight that I thought was a bit cheap where the boss summoned a bunch of guards with one thousand-plus armor and was pretty much untouchable and could damage both you and your party member fairly quickly. It was the only time in the game where I felt like my blocking didn’t really help and that the boss was super cheap.In the end though it was beatable and it just required a lot of strategy to get past his minions and armor. There is also the chance I may of been somewhat under leveled and wasn’t really prepared for that side boss yet and just jump into it. That was the biggest issue with the game, it didn’t really let you know a suggested level for any of the quests or fights making it so you never really knew if you were overpowered, under-powered, or just at the right level. There were times that I felt like all three. Another gameplay mechanic that is there throughout the game and incredibly helpful is adding the citizens of the town as friends on Facebook, which is your superpower. Every time you hit a certain threshold of friends you get a new perk. Each of the perks help greatly in battle mostly powering up your attacks or giving you ways to leech life off of enemies to keep you alive.
The music in the game is absolutely fantastic. The game’s score is meant to make you feel like you are on a grand quest because let’s face it, you are. It moves from simple town like melodies when roaming the city of South Park. Other times it is a grand swelling moments that make you feel like an epic warrior in the battle to save the entire world. It just really adds a nice overall feel to the game. The game is attempting to emulate other games in the fantasy genre and the music just puts the icing the on the cake. The score really caught me by surprise. I expected small South Park like music, and god forbid a lot of Primus. The score for parts of the game would not feel out of out place is Dragon Age or Skyrim. They really went the full way to make The Stick of Truth feel like a full blooded RPG. Though unforunatly for having such an epic score it only has a couple of tracks. They area really good couple tracks though.
In the end, South Park: The Stick of Truth is not only a fantastic South Park adventure., it is also the best RPG of the new year. Everything about it feels superbly crafted. The entire feel of the game truly puts in your own episode of South Park and makes you feel like you are the main character this time round. The combat feels active and incredibly engaging and not like you’re just standing around waiting for your turn to attack. The script is uproariously funny at every turn. You can feel the love that Obsidian and the South Park team put into every code and line. Even if you are not a South Park fan I recommend you play even a tiny bit of this game, just to see the incredible RPG that lays under all of the South Park humor and skin. You won’t regret. I know that I don’t regret a single minute that I spent in the town of South Park. Just remember, do NOT fart on anyone’s balls. That’s just not cool man, not cool.
South Park is a fantastic RPG for the new generation but for those who are not South Park fan there just might be too much South Park in this for you. If you're into South Park be sure to pick this up, if you're not maybe rent it, but still worth checking it.