South Park: The Stick of Truth
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment & South Park Digital Studios
Release Dates: March 4, 2014 (NA) / March 7, 2014 (EU)
Price: $19.99 (Amazon)
It's been a long run for South Park: The Stick of Truth as development initially began in 2009, after South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone approached Obsidian about making a role-playing game designed to look exactly like the television series, which in the final product they managed to do flawlessly as The Stick of Truth feels like an entire season of the long running TV show, and a good one too. You assume the role of the new kid in town as you try to make friends and become a part of the fantasy role playing game that everyone in South Park seems to be a part of, either by standing behind Cartman's human race or Kyle's elves, fighting against each other to hold the Stick of Truth.
Throughout this 12-16 hours journey you will meet iconic South Park characters, make new friends and gather allies to join your cause, so by the end of the game everyone in South Park will have a role to play in your game. What differentiates this experience from your normal South Park episode is its length and the opportunities that come with that to tell a longer, richer story without having to rely on previous episodes of the show to introduce you to some of the scenery in which the action will take place; of course, fans of the series will instantly recognize locations from the show, as all of the kids' houses as well as community buildings which often appear in the show are all here, but this game finally defines a map of where those buildings are located throughout town, and that gives great opportunities for exploration, even for old fans of the TV show.
Among those iconic buildings and locations, The Stick of Truth comes with some new ones as well, and combining those in a map of South Park that feels authentic and logical creates an amazing playground for you and your buddies, giving great opportunities for side-quests, which the games comes no short of. While The Stick of Truth has a lot to offer for long-time fans of the show as the game is filled with references and even the smallest thing will bring back some memories to fans, the game manages to offer an amazing and hilarious experience even for those who haven't caught up with the TV show for the last couple of seasons, as it relies on basic humour, jokes and parodies of hit TV shows such as Breaking Bad or video games like Skyrim to make you laugh on every occasion. Aside from the fart jokes and all the hilarious lines it's pleasing to see how the world looks through a child's imagination, even when as an adult things are way different and Red Bulls are not magic potions, but since this is a South Park experience, even with that moment of revelation, be ready for things to quickly escalate into madness involving aliens, nazi zombies and Taco Bell. 10
The Stick of Truth at its core is a turn based RPG, allowing you and one of the multiple buddies which you will unlock along the way to form a party and adventure together, helping you out in combat, as well as keeping you company and occasionally make you laugh with an unexpected joke. Even though it keeps a simplistic look and basic controls to allow everyone to jump into the action, The Stick of Truth's turn based RPG elements leave plenty of room for strategy if you're willing to give the game a try on a harder difficulty level and face a real challenge. As you start your adventure, you can choose between four character classes: Fighter, Mage, Thief and Jew, and even if each comes with a set of unique skills, they make little difference in battle as there are no class specific items, meaning that a Mage can pickup a sword and use it just as well as a Fighter.
Each character can perform two actions each turn,first giving you the option to restore HP or Mana using a potion, remove debuffs or use the character's special skill and then allowing you to perform a secondary action, attacking your enemies by using a skill, magic attack, or normal ranged/melee attack. There are plenty of options to choose from and The Stick of Truth's higher difficulty levels will challenge you to come up with the best strategies in order to succeed, but even with all those elements, The Stick of Truth manages to keep it simple for players who only want a South Park experience without the headache of a turn based RPG, making this title accessible to anyone who wants a taste. The greatest part about the game's combat system is that it's not overused to the point where it becomes boring and repetitive, leaving plenty of room for exploration, item gathering and non-combat sidequests throughout the story, often giving you a break between battles, and allowing you to gather more loot and better equipment to satisfy your needs, sending you on different paths to acquire the things you might need to progress further, and by the time you'll encounter the next series of battles, you'll already have new spells and items to play with, making it interesting once again.
Since this game is the first time you get to fully explore the town, there are plenty of locations to visit and characters to find, the game often giving you sidequests to encourage you to explore more and find out what else there is to see and even giving you more tools as the story progresses to access previously unreachable areas such as small cracks in the walls which you can only enter using the Gnome Dust in order to shrink or high rooftops which can be accessed using the Alien Probe. There are plenty of things to see and do in The Stick of Truth aside from the main story, but combing those side quests and activities with the main plot can result in nearly 15 hours of South Park action at its best. 8.5
The Stick of Truth does not only feel like an episode of the show, but it looks like one as well, keeping the HUD elements to a minimum and only showing up when necessary, making the experience indistinguishable from the TV show outside of combat, and making it just as fun to watch as it is to play. Everything from the characters to the scenery and the iconic locations look authentic and add to the South Park experience you've always wanted to have. The menus are the only thing that could use a bit more work, as they can be disorienting and hard to browse at times, but that is only a minor issue as you will rarely have to use the menu as the game hardly breaks that atmospheric feeling of a South Park episode.[/indent] 9
This thing sounds like the real deal, as all the voice actors from the shows are here to voice their respective characters, in beautiful high definition recordings that will make you laugh with each joke a character tells using his iconic accent and voice. Numerous songs already known from the TV show are present in here as well, used in the funniest ways possible and combined with some great sound effects also taken from the show, they help recreate an authentic South Park feel; after all, there is nothing like walking into a store and Cartman's "Kyle's Mom is a Bitch" starts playing on the radio. 10
It can take you up to 15 hours to complete the campaign if you're willing to complete all the side quests and collect everything, unfortunately there is not much replay value after that as the character classes make no difference in combat, and there are no twists that might change the outcome of anything. The campaign is also the only thing the game has to offer, but if you're digging the turn based RPG elements, you might want to give it a second try on a higher difficulty level, unless you did that on the first try. 7
The Stick of Truth is like an entire season of South Park, keeping the humor, and its unique setting and adding some RPG mechanics that make it just as interesting to play as it is to watch, but even without giving much attention to its gameplay, the Stick of Truth is definitely a season of South Park worth watching. 8.9