To say I’ve been hyped about South Park: The Stick of Truth would be a gross understatement. Between the constant news posts, unboxing videos, and overall level of salivation I’ve experienced over this game, there was a very realistic shot that Obsidian would put out something pretty ok, but deeply flawed and I would feel crushed by the disappointment.
Now, it’s time to critique the game and judge it for what it really is: exceeded expectations.
Let me preface the entire review by stating that there may be some spoiler mentions in the review. It’s nothing really important story-wise, but more regarding some of the jokes or visuals in the game. Trust me, knowing it’s happening will not ruin the enjoyment of experiencing it yourself.
Let’s start things off with the visuals of the game by saying you will 100% feel like you are playing an episode of the show. The visuals are perfectly replicated and the animation is as shitty as you’d have hoped. There are no smooth walking animations in this game, it’s just your character hopping all over the town encountering pretty much every single character from the history of the series.
The town of South Park itself has not only been faithfully replicated from the various set pieces, but for the first time ever, the town of South Park has an actual, official layout. Now you’ll finally know where Big Gay Al lives compared to the kids. You’ll see how close Tom’s Rhinoplasty is to Tweek Bros. Coffeehouse. You’ll finally know how to get from Stark’s Pond over to City Hall, farting on everybody along the way. Visually, this game captures the show in every way and it’s funny to see that the actual gameplay sections look better than the cutscene videos.
The game is equally matched on the audio front. As expected, the full cast of South Park was on hand to voice damn near every single character in the South Park universe in their full M-rated glory. It’s not just the voice cast either, as you’ll hear the familiar guitar strums from South Park transitions when you load the game or start a new day.
You’ll walk into stores downtown and hear songs like Vote or Die! or Taco-Flavored Kisses playing over the radio. And yes, Chef’s songs are playing as well. Sadly, I didn’t hear Gay Fish at all, but perhaps I just missed it. Lastly, while I don’t want to really spoil anything, The Ballad of Lemmiwinks is heard later in the game while venturing through somebody’s anus and it’s phenomenal.
Since I just talked about a song that plays while traversing through somebody’s ass let me state this right now: This game easily pushes the limits of the M rating. Language is just as profane as you would expect if you’ve seen South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut, but amped up quite a bit. Expect a near constant stream of swears through the game all spoken in those adorable South Park voices. The game is also violent enough at times to earn it an M rating alone, but it’s nothing super graphic compared to other games out there.
Nudity, though? Holy shit. Just venturing around the town of South Park and entering houses can have you experience scenes like a naked woman or a man having relations with a non-human. There are the well-known anal probing and abortion scenes that got the game censored in many areas of the world as well and there’s even an achievement in the game for watching your parents have sex for a minute. It doesn’t end there either, as you do battle under your parents and we’ll just say you may come face-to-face with a nutsack once or twice. Also? South Park dong.
The game can look and sound as authentic as ever, but that wouldn’t make it good just on those merits. Obviously it needs some solid RPG gameplay behind it to all come together and Obsidian has delivered in spades. The battle system is very involved, as nearly every attack requires some additional inputs during to deliver maximum damage.
Whether it’s just hitting a timed button press for an attack or performing other actions for special attacks like button mashing, pressing specific buttons, or analog stick rotating, the battles aren’t just mindless grindfests that will bore you. Defense boils down to timed button presses to deflect a chunk of the damage as well. Make sure your fancy new TV is set to “gaming” mode so there aren’t any delays to fuck your world up, plus a minimum of 120hz refresh rate couldn’t hurt either.
There is also a significant amount of exploration and hidden stuff to find. 30 Chinpokomon litter the game, with a few of them easily missed without a keen eye. There are plenty of sidequests with a lot of them rewarding you with new Facebook friends. Oh, and let’s not forget the loot! Many items can be broken in the game leaving junk items you can sell and every house is littered with cabinets and drawers ready to be ransacked with new healing items, equipment, or various junk. I spent the majority of my first two days playing the game just exploring the town and getting everything I can and as you progress through the game unlocking new abilities, you’ll find even more areas to loot that you couldn’t get before.
To top it off, the story in the game seems quite standard at the beginning as you’re a new kid moving to town and you have to befriend the other kids in town, but as the days progress in the game, things get pretty insane. Alien anal probes, underpants gnomes, Zombie Nazi Fetuses, gingers, Mongolians, helping two-faced bitchy girls figure out who is a two-faced bitch, and then there’s Canada. Good god, there is Canada. I’ll fully admit I loved singing along to a chiptune version of “Blame Canada” late in the game. The twists and turns the story takes through the game will absolutely keep you interested and laughing your ass off.
It’s not ALL perfect, though. As it’s an Obsidian game, you go into it expecting some bugs or glitches, and while I’m lucky to say I haven’t encountered anything severe, I’ve had friends tell me about freezes or missing items. The only real issue I spotted in the game was a stuttering framerate at a few points. It was nothing major enough to distract from the gameplay, but it’s there and given that it IS an Obsidian game, I’m actually quite impressed at how well done Stick of Truth is overall. The issues I’ve experienced are not severe or problematic, really.
Overall, I had super high expectations for this game and Obsidian, along with South Park Studios, absolutely nailed it. It’s good to see a South Park game where Trey Parker and Matt Stone were involved heavily to make sure it met their own expectations and that they had a studio as solid as Obsidian to make their vision a reality. If you are a South Park fan, this is an absolute must play in every respect.
As a matter of fact, as soon as I post this review I’m going to go fire the game back up and start a new file. My first playthrough was as a Jew and I think I wanna try out a thief or warrior this time around. Then those assholes in town will stop making fun of my nose. Dicks.
South Park: The Stick of Truth is currently available for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC platforms for $59.99. A Collector’s Edition is also available for $79.99.
A copy of this game was independently purchased by the reviewer.