It was the game that was cursed. Endless delays, publisher implosions, and God knows what else behind the scenes: South Park: The Stick of Truth was seemingly a game that would never come out. But it’s here, and you can play it!
Well… sort of. Unfortunately, in some ways the curse continues. Here are five things you need to know about South Park: The Stick Of Truth.
The Game Is Buggy. Really Buggy.
Continuing the grand Obsidian tradition of being completely screwed by release dates and quality control, this game is buggy as hell. In the three hours I spent with it on PS3, there was stuttering, cut-scene loading problems, and all sorts of chicanery. Basically this game needs a major patching, so if you can wait, or are just a casual fan, you should probably pick it up in a month or so. But that will require avoiding the Internet because…
You Need To Go Into The Game Cold.
Avoid plot descriptions, forum spoilers, stay as clean and unsullied as you can. The plot is actually engaging and fairly fun, not to mention utterly ridiculous as only the best South Park episodes truly can be as a fairly simple LARP keeps having its absurd stakes upped even further. That’s partially due to the fact that…
The Game Is Essentially A Really Long, Really Funny South Park Episode.
I confess, my patience with South Park has become more and more limited over the years. The show is still capable of some brilliant satire, but more and more when the show tries to be edgy or political, it devolves into whining with more toilet humor.
Fortunately, there’s no such problem here, because this is essentially a South Park epic about how video games and the way they tell stories completely blow. This game is better than entire seasons of the series in some cases, and is packed with tiny details, right down to various characters offering bitchy observations about what’s happening on Facebook. Great care has been taken to pack this game with jokes, and it shows.
That said, sometimes the fanservice gets to be a little much; expect to find literally every possible object that has ever turned up in a South Park episode at some point, including far too many copies of The Poop That Took A Pee. A few bits are essentially copied straight from the show, thanks to production delays. And in case the fact that an abortion minigame had to be edited out for some markets and the fact that Cartman calls himself the Grand Wizard, wasn’t a clue, this game can be staggering in how utterly, hilariously, tasteless it is, although really, if tasteless humor bothers you, you weren’t a fan of the show anyway.
But overall, it’s a hoot, and a reminder of what the show can do when it’s firing on all cylinders.
Underneath It All Is A Well-Crafted And Accessible Old-School RPG.
Obsidian mentioned Paper Mario as a touchstone, and it really shows in how the game plays. The combat system is built around timing and button presses, but it’s also got plenty of depth and humor, ranging from toilet humor to really funny observations on gaming mechanics, layered into it. Similarly, the game avoids a lot of the problem many “funny” games have in that the humor doesn’t get in the way of the mechanics. If you muted this game and played Rush or something as a soundtrack, it’d still be a lot of fun to play.
It’s Swiftly Paced.
Finally, this is a zippy little game. The bugs are unfortunate, because the time Obsidian and the show’s creative team spent ensuring this game flows and doesn’t show any seams is practically a master class in game pacing. It’s very smooth, when it works, flowing from cutscene to exploration to battle with nary a hitch.
In short, despite the bugs, this is a game worth playing, even if you have no particular love of South Park or RPGs. South Park: The Stick Of Truth shows what a game can do when it’s got enough creativity and skill behind it, especially when it’s trying to pack as much tasteless humor as possible into an encounter.