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South Park: The Stick Of Truth

At its core, South Park: The Stick of Truth is an RPG. You have a ‘hero’ (otherwise known as New Kid), who arrives in the quiet mountain town of South Park to live with his parents. Before long, New Kid is drafted into the shenanigans of the local school kids that we all know and love…

South Park Stick of Truth

The story focuses on meeting Cartman (AKA The Grand Wizard) and being drafted into his ‘role play’ involving the protection of the titular ‘Stick of Truth’. Cartman initially has you running around trying to recruit other friends for his ‘army’ and before long, it all spirals out of control in true South Park fashion.

I’ll leave the plot details there. But what I will say is that Matt Stone and Trey Parker have done a sterling job of creating a hilarious, involving narrative, not just for South Park fans but for anyone looking for an RPG with comedic edge. Those of a sensitive disposition might want to be careful though. Anyone who’s familiar with the series will know exactly what sort of humour to expect and SOT pulls no punches. You have been warned.

So, to address the elephant in the room: is it possible to turn a franchise like South Park, into a decent RPG?

In short… Absolutely!

Now, that’s not to say that every idea in SOT is original, because it isn’t. But that’s certainly not a bad thing. It’s often said that imitation is the greatest form of flattery, and South Park has borrowed the very best elements from a lot of RPG’s and mashed them together to create it’s own, excellent system. As you might well expect, the references to other, ‘borrowed from’ titles are hardly subtle. From the moment you press start, anyone who’s played Skyrim will recognise the main menu layout, right down to the atmospheric layer of mist blowing across the bottom of the screen.

South Park Stick of Truth

The games combat is most closely comparable to the old Final Fantasy turn-based system. Random encounters are initiated by gangs of youths who will challenge you and your selected ‘buddy’ to a fight. The two opposing forces then take it in turns to dish out punishment, utilising either melee/ranged attacks or personal abilities. Your choice of which depends on your chosen class, (Fighter, Mage, Thief or… Jew) and what buddy is accompanying you at the time.

Depending on your selected attack type, you’re given a chance to land a ‘perfect hit’ and deal some extra damage with a well-timed button press. The same goes for blocking. When your opponent is about to hit you, a perfectly timed button press will reduce the damage you receive and stop any negative status effects from being inflicted.

In fact, the list of status ailments is surprisingly extensive. Bleeding, burning, stun, slow; Obsidian have put a lot of thought into making the combat quite a deep experience, something a lot of people were probably weren’t expecting. Emerging victorious then gives you a chance to loot the ‘corpses’ of your fallen enemies for some of the games huge variety of items, clothing and accessories.

South Park Stick of Truth

Another fantastic feature borrowed from a certain JRPG, is the summoning system. New Kid can find up to four summonable characters around South Park that can then be used in battle. Unfortunately they can only be used once per day and not during Boss battles; but they’re well worth finding, if only to see the always hilarious and often gross consequences (Jesus being a particular highlight.) One of the most recognisable ‘nods’ however, is the unsubtly named ‘Dragon Shouts’ AKA Fart attacks. These can be used in battle at the cost of mana, to stun, gross out or deal damage to opponents; and can also be used whilst exploring to further your advancement around the map.

The map itself is reasonably small, and exploration becomes increasingly easy with the discovery of 12 fast-travel flags. Whilst wandering the town you’ll inevitably come across the games various collectables; ranging from ‘Chinpokomon’ to 120 potential new Facebook friends as well as plenty of other collectable nods and references to the show. Some objects are missable however, so completionists may want to enlist the help of a guide to avoid frustration later on.

Visually, the game looks exactly like an episode of South Park; which is great as it feels like a standalone season in its own right. Obsidian hasn’t tried to make it into something it’s not (which is commendable.) In the past there have been some horrendous attempts to turn South Park into some weird 3D affair and have failed miserably. But in Stick of Truth, wandering around the environment sometimes really makes you forget that you’re playing a game and not just watching an episode on TV.

South Park Stick of Truth

Overall, Stick of Truth is a great game; it’s certainly not a difficult one, but then again it doesn’t need to be. South Park is something to be laughed at, and if you spent too much time getting angry because you couldn’t pass a section, then the humour would be lost. So whilst it’s not the deepest or most challenging RPG experience, it’s undeniably entertaining.

It’s by no means flawless however. SOT is a little short for it’s genre, with a leisurely run-through taking between 10 and 15 hours, and an oddly small level cap of 15; which for the more hardcode role-player fans, is unlikely to suffice. Console gamers will also unfortunately miss out on a few scenes due to their extremities, and are instead presented with a screen essentially mocking the censorship, and making a joke on how we in Europe lose out.

Considering what Obsidian chose to leave in though, I’m surprised they even bothered cutting any content (you’ll see for yourself when you play).

In short though, South Park: Stick of Truth is a well-built, witty RPG with lots to do, and is definitely worth a look regardless of whether you’re a fan of the series or not. So what are you waiting for? Buy it, pick the Jew and become the Dovahkiin you were meant to be!

8/10

Nick Petrasiti
Consummate professional, lover of video games and all-round hero that can be found doing a podcast, writing about games and also making videos. Oh, I have saved the world 87 times and once hugged Danny Trejo. You're welcome.

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