Friday, March 28, 2014

South Park: The Stick of Truth Review

In order to fully like South Park: The Stick of Truth, one should at least be somewhat familiar with what South Park is. If you don't know what South Park is, then just go watch one of the hundreds of stellar episodes that are available. No seriously, just watch a single one and come back......... okay! So, if you thought that episode was good, then Stick of Truth is exactly that, but only in video game form. To say that Stick of Truth is a season of South Park in video game form is no understatement, and it's pretty damned special in that regard, albeit with a few kinks in it.

South Park: The Stick of Truth has you play as the new kid in town, who goes around and makes friends with all of the characters from the show. You'll be friends with Stan, Kyle, Butters, and even more obscure characters like the crab people and all of Mr. Hankey's family. This whole time though, you're playing a fantasy larp with the boys fighting over an object called "The Stick of Truth", which holds an unlimited amount of power (or it could just be a stick). While playing, strange and strong forces will interfere with you like aliens, the government, and even the dreaded Nazi zombies. Needless to say, it's going to be a long three days in South Park.

And yes, I said three days. The game isn't all that long, clocking in at around 10-12 hours, but that's perfectly fine. Given the amount of content included in the game it feels perfectly acceptable for Obsidian Entertainment to make the game a bit on the short side. There's a sizable amount of side missions that all require multiple steps to them, like eradicating several homeless camps or finding the dreaded Manbearpig, so there's no shortage of what to do here. You even have the ability to go out to multiple characters and try to make friends with them. Usually it would just involve talking to them or completing a story mission, but with over a hundred characters to be friends with, you'll still be hunting for them by the time the credits roll.

It looks just like an episode of South Park!
Actually exploring the town of South Park though is probably one of the best parts of the game though. For the first time in years, we actually have a map of the town of South Park! That might seem like nothing, but just seeing where every building is in the town is a great treat for fans. Hell, the entire game is a treat for fans, with items littered throughout town that reference past episodes, characters sometimes referencing the show, right down to the character designs, which are a straight cut from the recent Black Friday trilogy, which you should totally watch because it's probably one the best trilogies that South Park did. This whole game is just a love letter to fans, and if you follow the show, this game will be like nirvana for you.

But that's all in the design of the game, how does it actually play? The game is divided into two sections. You have the over world, which plays a lot more like an adventure game than anything else. You move around on a semi 2D plain, interacting with objects by either clicking on them when they're in range, or by moving a cursor onto them to do a special action. In the over world, you can warp to special points, shrink yourself, use your slingshot, or use your partner's ability. With the exception of the slingshot, none of the other powers really seem to be that effective. Shrinking is only used once or twice in the whole game, especially since you get it late in the game, warping is only used exclusively for plot centered missions, while the partner abilities are so rarely used that I forgot they existed by the end of the game. The slingshot is all you'll really need to hit far away objects and stun an enemy.

You can also use fart magic in the over word, which is used to destroy walls and even kill some enemies outside of combat. Yes, if you strategize well, you can avoid combat with enemies by straight up killing them outside of combat, which is a blessing given how combat is done in this game. Giving the option to do that can help to even out the difficulty, since dealing with multiple enemies at the same time can be a bit troublesome, so killing them outside of combat can make the next battles much easier. That being said, the battles are already cripplingly easy, so it really doesn't make any difference.

It might be larping, but the boys DESTROY this house
Combat is what you would get if you mixed Paper Mario with Earthbound, but made it all in the style of... well South Park. You select from a short menu what attack you want to do, like using melee weapons, ranged weapons, or a special move, and you can use an item each turn to heal yourself. You get two moves per turn, and you have access to a partner that can do the same things as you, giving you four actions per turn, two for fighting and two for healing. It gives you a relatively fair advantage, but once you get better and stronger items, enemies will do less and less damage, making you overpowered beyond belief. Normal enemies won't prove to be a challenge by the end of the game, and even bosses won't be all that difficult despite the insane amount of health they may have. As long as you exploit the bleeding status effect, which has enemies take damage every turn AND can stack multiple times to inflict more damage, then you have an easy way to beat the game without even trying. I only died once in the whole game, and that's because I went into an optional boss fight very under leveled.

Getting back to the gameplay though, before you hit an enemy, you can time your attack just right to add even more damage to your hit alla Paper Mario. Your weapons though aren't gruesomely vicious weapons, but more kid friendly stuff. You use suction cups arrows to shoot at kids, you hit the with waffle ball bats, and it's only when you get to the higher levels that you get legitimate weapons like a cross bow and a mace to use on little kids. You can also use summons, but each summon is only good for a day, so you can only use each summon a limited amount of time. That being said, using a summon with completely end the battle and deal a massive amount of damage to the enemy, so they essentially function as emergency summons. Oh, and no using them for boss fights, cause that would be cheap.

The tough thing about Stick of Truth is that I love the game in almost all of its aspects. I love its design and how faithfully it recreates South Park, though that my have to do with Matt Stone and Trey Parker writing the script and being heavily involved with development, and I love how it's essentially a love letter to fans of the show. Everything is referenced and talked about, and we even get some cameos from some fan favorite characters that no one thought we would ever see in the game (Al Gore!). But as an RPG, it has a huge amount of problems. The difficulty is non existent, especially since after each battle you automatically heal yourself, the combat isn't that exciting, and the level cap is at level fifteen, which you'll reach before you reach the end of the second day. It's a flawed game in all sense of the words.

Hope you like probing!
All of that is nearly excused however because the game is just so funny. I was rolling around at several points in the game and was screaming with laughter at one boss fight. This game knows how to make you laugh and does everything in its power to do so. It's hilarious, and is exactly what video games need more of. We don't need grim remakes that all feel the same, or action games that focus on how technically powerful they are. We need games that look shitty, but are some of the funniest forms of interactive medium on the planet. South Park: The Stick of Truth may not be the best game ever, but it's probably one of the funniest games I've played in a while. I had a great time playing it, flaws and all. I give South Park: The Stick of Truth a four out of five stars.

Remember, no farting on people's balls. That's just messed up.

No comments:

Post a Comment