I am the new kid of legend, and you may call me douchebag.
Let’s face it, tie-in games really do have a rocky history. The majority of them are just not very good. Taking something like the hugely popular South Park series and making it into a videogame, and an RPG at that, must have been a real “fingers crossed” idea. However, Obsidian have some good games behind them, and the hands on approach by the series creators has ensured that South Park: The Stick of Truth is both well made and incredibly entertaining. Don’t expect to be converted if you are not a fan though…
South Park: The Stick of Truth really is like an extended episode of the TV show, with authentic voices, recognisable locations and easily as much silly humour and in-jokes as the show ever has. This is why fans of the show will get so much out of the game. Every scene will have something happening that will raise a smile on the face of a fan. Little references to popular episodes will pop up, causing instant recollection and possibly a laugh from a fan. And the humour, which is often both edgy and crude, will make a fan feel at home. The writing is incredibly well done, and the game feels as authentic as the show.
But where does that leave the player who has never enjoyed the adventures of Stan, Cartman, Kyle and Kenny? Well, it will leave you with a rather short (for an RPG) but very well made RPG adventure in a strange world of Elves, meth heads and the homeless, with enjoyable and involving turn-based combat. Will that do it for you?
The player takes on the role of “The New Kid”. Having just moved to South Park after a mysteriously hinted at incident, the new kid is ordered to go out and make friends by his dad. This leads the player to come across Butters, dressed in armour and carrying a hammer, who seems to be losing in a fight with some other kid dressed as an Elf. A quick punch will lead to Butters becoming your first friend and being invited to join what is essentially a massive, town-wide live action role play game.
And of course, Cartman happens to be the king of the human faction in the town. A quick trip to Cartman’s backyard reveals the human base in this massive game, complete with petting zoo style stable and a strangely equipped armoury. Cartman himself will explain about the constant war between the humans and the Drow Elves, all over what is claimed to be a powerful artifact – The Stick of Truth (Yeah, it’s a stick).
So, you are taken into the human faction, with the hope of making more friends amongst these strange kids. Give Cartman your name (whatever it is, you will be referred to as douchebag) and then choose a class for your character. There are three classic classes (a warrior, mage and thief) or you can choose to be a Jew – there are very few boundaries that South Park won’t cross.
Then there will be a series of fights that act as a tutorial explaining the basics of combat. The combat is turn-based, with the player controlling two characters against sometimes as many as five or six enemies. When it is the turn of one of the players’ characters (with a selection of the more popular characters from the show being available to join the new kid), they will be able to attack. Interestingly, the character can also use a healing item or power before they attack, with no consequence.
The attacks available vary, depending on which class the player chooses and how far they have progressed. However, most attacks will result in some form of quicktime event, in which the player will be required to press a button, or more buttons, at the right time to make the attack more successful. Failure at this point may well lead to no damage being inflicted. The combat is more involving than what is found in most turn-based RPGs, which is refreshing.
In true RPG fashion, the player will level up along the way and unlock new skills and perks, all with a typically South Park twist, such as the Protect My Balls perk or the Jew’s Circum-scythe attack. The South Park twists carry through all things in the game, with items such as Cheesy Poofs for healing. Even the money in Stick of Truth feels authentic to the subject matter, with the player collecting Dollars and Cents in such small amounts and only paying something like one Dollar for a wooden sword. It all ties in wonderfully and keeps the immersion going.
Even the interface has been South Park styled, with a comical version of Facebook allowing the player to read comments left by the other characters and keep track of how many friends they have.
For an RPG, the game does run a little short. It can be completed in around a dozen hours or so, and maybe half again if the player takes on all of the side quests and explores fully. There a re a few reasons to come back and play through again though. Players will want to find all of the Chinpokomon hidden throughout the game, and trying the other character classes can give a slightly different experience. However, if there was a fault to be had with South Park: The Stick of Truth, it would have to be the length. Let’s hope for some substantial DLC down the line.
As a comedy RPG, The Stick of Truth performs quite well. It is short, but the mechanics are all solid and there is plenty of variety in the game. As a title for South Park fans, this is the one to get. It really does feel authentic and is incredibly entertaining. An essential purchase for the fans, but gamers who frown upon juvenile jokes and crude humour would be best avoiding South Park: The Stick of Truth.