The following goes in-depth on a very adult-rated video game, with sensitive and potentially offensive depictions of various facets of it. Viewer discretion is advised.
When people think of the popular TV show “South Park”, numerous things likely come to mind. Silly, unforgiving, sometimes blatantly (maybe intentionally) offensive. It is not for the faint of heart. Yet, it has been appealing enough on TV to survive- and thrive- for over twenty years. In 2014, Trey Parker and Matt Stone elected to take South Park into the video game spectrum with the Stick of Truth. And boy is it a doozy.
A broad idea of the game is that it is complex and intricate, yet it doesn’t seem to take itself seriously. In a very good way; imagine if you had a childhood where all your friends had the drive, resources and time to dress up in Dungeons-n-Dragons esque clothing, play the game with relentless immersion, and have it not quickly devolve into endless god-modding and crying over whose “unbeatable” powers were actually unbeatable. That’s basically what’s going on here, in cartoony video game form. All in all, this was a fairly ambitious game that’s unsurprisingly quite polarizing. But, if you can handle a few anti-semitic jokes, lots of crude language, and boatloads of somewhat disgusting, very graphic detail, then you can find a good time in this game.
As always, let’s assess what went well in this game, and what didn’t go so well. Beginning with the positives:
1. The game does a great job finding good, fitting roles for many fan favorite characters in the TV show
Probably the most endearing part of this game was just how involved a lot of various side characters are in the game. Where you have the “main characters” of the children of South Park (Cartman, Kyle, Stan, Butters, Kenny, etc) the supporting cast certainly makes their presence known in the most fan friendly way possible.
Whether you wanted to see Kim Chi aid you in battle with his stellar anti-Mongolian sword-swinging tactics, you liked enlisting the aid of Wendy and the girl team to help you fight the antagonists of the story, or you wanted to bring joy to an old friend….
…. You could just about definitely find one of your favorite side characters in some prominent role in this video game.
2. The combat system was quite simple, user friendly, and gave the player enough options to remain dynamic
This is a pretty basic turn based game, offering just about what you’d expect. You and your “combat buddy”- a (sometimes part time, depending on the player’s choices) choice between Cartman, Kyle, Butters, Stan, Jimmy and Kenny would attack, eat/drink things, heal one another, etc. A simplistic system for a game that seemed to not want to take itself too seriously is perfectly fitting.
For the “I’ve got to have the best at all times” type player, you will likely enjoy how egregiously overpowered Butters’ Professor Chaos ability is:
Now this game was polarizing and had some decent depth, but it’s hard to locate any critically serious flaws which dragged the game down. That said, let’s talk about the aspects of the game that weren’t so amazing:
1. The game is short and has absolutely no replay value
This game is fittingly akin to a cartoon, in the sense that playing through it more than once will likely seem like more of a chore than it’s worth. Sure, the game itself is funny, fairly dynamic and fresh. But all of that goes away when you play through a second time, things seem somewhat tedious, and you get spoonfed jokes you knew the answer to, or saw coming due to your first playthrough. Not by any means a critical flaw, but one that may make someone potentially investing in it a little wary, as the game itself is quite short and will likely be in and out of your free time within a few days.
2. Once again, this game is not for the faint of heart
Whatever you do, DO NOT let your kids, little siblings, or anyone under a fairly mature age, play this game. In no particular order, in this game, you will have to do the following: Perform multiple abortions, shrink yourself and crawl up a man’s ass, get anally violated by aliens, use your own feces as a weapon, fight a small gnome right next to your character’s parents while they have very graphic sex, and much, much more. Even if you are a mature age and don’t get ‘scarred’ by any of this, you will likely find numerous portions of this game to be quite disturbing, disgusting, and perhaps offensive. Of course, if you’ve watched your fair share of South Park on TV, none of this is likely to surprise you- the show is targeted a mature audience after all. But, don’t play this game if you aren’t a part of said mature audience, and definitely don’t play it if you simply can’t tolerate crude, sometimes disgusting, humor at a somewhat regular basis.
Overall grade: B
This isn’t winning any awards, and it likely isn’t a super memorable game. But, it is a display of South Park’s ability to have a vicegrip, even a temporary one, on the entertainment industry. Along with two decades of being a TV staple, Stick of Truth, and its predecessor in “Fractured But Whole”, have made their mark in video games as well. Just know that, though the game itself is objectively quite decent, it will only truly resonate with somewhat of a niche crowd. In other words, some will like it, some will not.