South Park: The Stick of Truth is a collaboration project by Obsidian Entertainment and the folks at South Park Studios. Originally slated for 2013, the game found itself in the epicenter of the THQ shutdown and was constantly delayed. But the promise of a full-fledged, truly faithful South Park game has been quite enticing every since the first trailer was released. As a fan of the South Park series and RPGs in general, I must say South Park: The Stick of Truth is a match made in Mormon heaven.
Aesthetics (Story, Graphics, Sound)
South Park: The Stick of Truth is an unabashadly crass, gut-busting ride that’ll make players equally cringe and laugh; make no mistake, this game is intended for mature audiences. The game’s plot and dialogue are the key focus of the game. Written by Matt Stone, Trey Parker and the South Park Studios staff, it is quite apparent that the South Park style of humor remains faithful throughout the game. Nothing is sacred as the characters of South Park satirize and shame many common video game tropes and mechanics as well as their usual political victims. For fans of the television show, you’ll find the plot progression very familiar and honestly, that’s the best part of the game.
Another key element that makes The Stick of Truth a true South Park experience is the art and design of the game. It looks exactly like the show, down to how the characters move and how everything interacts with each other on their 2-D plane. There is something to be said about the level of immersion this game offers. One of the game’s greatest successes is its ability to truly put players in the town of South Park and let them bumble around the paper-cutout world.
Gameplay (Combat, Systems, Mechanics)
A main portion of the game is spent exploring and interacting with the world of South Park. As the “New Kid”, you’ll take on side quests to make Facebook friends (which just so happens to be the menu interface) or rummage through the famous locations seen on the show. One particularly interesting system that appears as you explore is the amount of interactive set pieces scattered around the environment. They create some interesting puzzles and segments that allow you to subvert enemy encounters or open up new paths. The Stick of Truth hammers home the RPG genre aesthetic by giving you the freedom and choice to wander and discover.
The actual intensive portion of the gameplay can be found in the multiple battles you’ll participate in as you fight for the realm. Battles are turn-based with certain quick time button commands; this keeps the battles fresh and fast-paced while still appealing to that classic RPG charm. Each enemy encounter is enjoyable as you plan and predict attacks, defense, status ailments and the use of bizarre, quirky summons.
On the Playstation 3 edition, at least, there are a few major technical problems. Severe framerate problems are extremely common, dropping the game to lows as bad as five frames per second at some instances. Secondly, there are consistent cases of command input lag, such as the player character being unable to turn or even move for a few seconds after exiting a menu. These problems are just manageable to the point where they don’t break the game, but their severity and commonality almost make it the case.
South Park: Stick of Truth is like playing a really good, 14-hour long episode of South Park. The satirical humor and one-off punchlines are right on target with their jabs, crude but oddly sophisticated in their irony. The game isn’t all art and writing though — the gameplay is solid and does a great job at capturing the old RPG feel. The PS3 version suffers from some technical problems, such as severe framerate drops and button input lag, but they don’t break the immersion too badly. If you’re a fan of South Park or of video games in general, I would definitely recommend South Park: The Stick of Truth for its constant comical jabs at the genre, at the electronic entertainment industry, and at the social norms we hold so dear.
Final Score: 9 / 10
Written and Edited by Tim Atwood
Chief Editor at The Pixel Pen Review