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When South Park the Stick of Truth was first announced, I couldn’t be happier. A spiritual successor to the Paper Mario series made by Obsidian, the developers of Fallout New Vegas? On top of that, it was all to be written by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the legendary writers of the main show. I pre-ordered the game, and anxiously awaited its release. While the game does have a ton of problems, I can’t argue with one thing. This is how a South Park Game is meant to be.
As it was written by Trey and Matt, there were multiple points where I actually laughed out loud. To be expected, it’s full of swearing, political commentary, parodies of TV and Video Game cliches, and multiple things that will most likely horrify you and make you laugh simultaneously.
The voice acting is also performed by Matt and Trey, reprising all of their roles. Every character sounds show-accurate and entertaining. The music, while fine, is often repetitive. However, some of the show’s legendary songs can also be found playing inside of buildings.
The game has a ‘moral choice’ system but the truth is that its all very binary. The choice won’t impact you in the slightest, and will just change two boss encounters. I went through all 4 different moral choices on each playthrough, and nothing of note stood out.
One of the game’s main draws is exploring South Park and the surrounding area, and the game does it wonderfully. All of the Kid’s houses can be explored, as well as the town’s numerous shops. Almost every single building in the game can be entered, and there is plenty of treasure and goodies in each location.
At first, I thought it would be cool to make a blog about every reference I saw, but it would be much easier to list everything that wasn’t a callback to earlier episodes. None of it is too forced either, but it’s nice seeing these callbacks. Weapons, outfits, even junk items that can be sold for cash are all references to episodes. From Fatbeard’s cutlass to Token’s Lion King DVD, I was hard pressed to find something I didn’t recognize.
While exploring South Park was an absolute blast, the game sadly suffers from numerous points of no return. A few key locations have chinpokomon and friends to collect, but it’s also entirely possible to miss these friends and never be able to go back. These locations also happen to be some of the most creative, making your inability to return sting even more.
So the atmosphere, art, and writing is all top notch, but what about the gameplay? This is where South Park: The Stick of Truth falters. There are four classes, but they all essentially boil down to the same thing at the end of the game. Combat is achieved by Paper Mario-like prompts, involving the player in combat. You also have 6 partner characters, each with varying usefulness.
On all four of my playthroughs, each class’ combat was extremely broken. Once you pass the first dungeon, it’s almost guaranteed you will never get another game over in the main storyline. There are multiple powerful status effects weapons and special moves will cause, and the king of the broken attacks is Bleeding Damage.
Bleeding damage can practically carry you through the whole game, shredding defences and ending some of the boss fights in a matter of one or two turns. To make it better, there are also special attacks that will lower defense or completely abolish it as well as inflicting bleeding. I was able to take down one of the last bosses in three turns with this strategy.
As to be expected by an Obsidian game, it’s full of glitches. Twice I lost at least 3 hours of progress do to saving not working correctly, and I experienced frequent graphical stuttering when exploring town. Nothing was too major, but it’s enough to knock the game down some points.
Another flaw is that the whole game has this feeling of missed potential to it. Plenty of encounters shown in previews (Such as the Crab People shown above) are missing from the game entirely, as is most of the E3 Trailer in general. So that means no Woodland Critter summons, no Goth Castle, and no giant Clyde.
The game can be completed in about 6 or 7 hours on second playthroughs, and I was only able to put about 14 hours into my first playthrough until I had every collectible (That wasn’t blocked off by past areas) and completed every sidequest. I would at least expect a New Game + option, but the game doesn’t have much postgame content. You can still explore town, but all enemies will be gone.
I’m very conflicted about what to think about this game. While I did have a blast with it, it has some very poor overall design choices. I strongly believe that it could have been a much better game if it had more content, but I did enjoy what I played of it. It’s a must for any fans of South Park, and Paper Mario fans? This is the closest thing to a true sequel we’ll probably ever get.