The history of South Park games is, for the most part, riddled with failure. Since the show’s debut in 1997, numerous attempts have been made to adapt the popular series to video games. Unfortunately, these games were forgettable at best, as even the show’s trademark humor couldn’t save terrible gameplay.
The recently released South Park: The Stick of Truth is a strong exception, however. In development since 2009, the show’s creators were heavily involved with the project and were determined to make a game that lived up to the show’s quality. After numerous setbacks and delays, the game finally came out in March of this year… and it’s damn good.
Developed as a joint project between Obsidian entertainment and South Park Digital Studios, The Stick of Truth perfectly recreates the art style of the show, something that hadn’t really been pulled off properly in video game form. Rather than playing as one of the show’s characters, you play as a new kid that moves into town… quickly named “Douchebag” by Cartman. You’re given quite a few customization options from the get-go, however, you are limited to a male character. You’re given free reign to explore the town, providing a huge amount of fanservice to those who love the show.
Of course, the game is an RPG… and a surprisingly good one to boot. It’s a bit like Paper Mario in that attacks require specific button commands to do more damage, and you only have one party member at a time. Early on you pick between four classes: Fighter, Mage, Thief, and Jew, each of course having unique abilities and stats. There’s a huge assortment of weapons and equipment throughout, which can be further customized with stickers or patches to add different effects. There’s also tons of cosmetic items for your character to wear, and if you don’t look like a hodgepodge of shit by the end quite frankly you’re not doing it right.
Of course, the game was written by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and therefore shares the same penchant for gross-out humor and absurdity as the show. The game is hilarious, and if you enjoy the show, you’ll get a huge kick out of it. The game also heavily parodies the RPG genre, in particular Skyrim, sometimes in subtle ways. Many characters from the show appear in some form, from Al Gore to the Woodland Critters.
There’s quite a lot to do outside of the main story as well. In addition to sidequests, a major aspect of the game involves making friends on Facebook. Some people will friend you as soon as you talk to them, while others require you to complete a quest. In addition to posting humorous status updates, making friends grants you useful perks. There’s also figures to collect, equipment sets to find, and summons you can get; namely Mr. Kim, Mr. Slave, Mr. Hankey, and Jesus.
If there’s anything negative to say about The Stick of Truth, it’s that the game’s not particularly challenging or long by RPG standards, clocking in at about 11 hours if you only focus on the main story. Though there’s a fair amount of sidequests, I had completed all of them before finishing the game, leaving me with nothing to do in the postgame besides gather collectables. However, the length felt right for the game… better to have a shorter RPG done right than a long one that gets boring.
Overall, I’d highly recommend The Stick of Truth, especially if you’re a South Park fan. Whether you love RPGs, raunchy humor, or anal probing, the game’s got something for everyone. They set out to finally make a good South Park game, and they more than succeeded… creating a game not only worthy of the South Park name, but a damn fine RPG to boot.