Review: South Park – The Stick of Truth (2014)

The Stick of Truth has set a high bar for licensed games and manages to set its self apart as the funniest and most outrageous game ever made.

For a long time The Stick of Truth was up in the air, not knowing whether it was ever going to be released and more to the point was it going to be any good. Could Matt and Trey pull off where other licensed games have failed to do and Obsidian had the impossible task of taking a 22-minute episode and making it into a 14-hour game.

I always thought that I had seen it all and there was nothing that they could show me that would offend me or make me think can they get away with that. But when I’m giving an abortion to Randy and clenching my butt cheeks as I get anally probed aboard an alien spaceship I realised that I was wrong. With offensive content and turn based RPG, gameplay makes for the funniest licensed game if not the funniest game ever made. Throughout the 14 hours of my first play through I had quite a few times where I had to stop to wipe away the tears where I was laughing so hard. I was happily surprised at how well the simplistic gameplay moulded with outrageous gut wrenching comedy, to make a smart and funny South Park game that could easily be mistaken for a season of the show.

When I started playing, with Cartmen giving a monologue of something that could be straight out of Lord of the Rings, I knew that they had pulled it out of the bag. The story is a clever premise and takes on the kid’s imaginations as they play a simple game of larping as each side fights to take control of the stick of truth. What’s great is its all set up from the last season of the shows Black Friday episode as you create your own new kid moving to the town who’s thrown into the choice of choosing the humans or the elves Cartmen or Kyle. With badly made costumes and weapons whether that’s from Cartmen and his patchy wizard hat or Kyle with a stick crown and dressing gown on. But the game is clever at being like the show and escalating quickly as you are thrown into a conspiracy of aliens, UFOs and Taco Bell.

With offensive content and turn based RPG, gameplay makes for the funniest licensed game if not the funniest game ever made.

The game forms its self as a paper Mario style RPG but with the rubbish animations and style that people have become accustomed to from the show. You and your single other party member who as you progress through the game will be able to choose from 6 of them each with their own unique and funny abilities. Each one also being very much a reference to the show, whether that’s Kenny when he dies in horrible ways and can’t be revived or Jimmy and his stuttering as he blows a massive horn making your enemy’s empty their bowels all over the floor. You take turns in simple but funny turn based gameplay as you battle it out against the homeless, gingers, elves and many more that I don’t want to spoil.

That along with character buffs and debuffs that are all chosen and sorted through your character’s Facebook page. All of them are within the mind of a 4th grade kid, whether it’s throwing feces to gross out your enemies or drinking coffee so that you can have a second turn, everything is kept simple enough that you don’t feel confused by the gameplay and you can still add a little bit of tactical depth without feeling like your going to die in a second. Obsidian also leaves out the annoyances of random battles you can’t avoid and debuffs carrying over to after the battle has ended.

So when you start the game you have the choice of 4 classes: fighter, mage, thief and Jew – which when you start playing through on a second run you soon realise there isn’t really a difference. Sure all the classes have their own individual abilities whether it’s the sling of David for the Jew class or stabbing people in the back as the thief, but that’s as far as it goes as there is no equipment that can only be used by any certain class, which makes everything much easier and less of a hassle – which takes away that nagging problem that comes with RPGs and lets you focus on the gameplay and the story as it unfolds and becomes more twisted and hilarious as it goes on.

Stick of Truth feels more like another season of the show rather than a game.

Eventually you learn dragon shout also known as your fart ability, which you will learn 4 of throughout the game, which is a direct reference to Skyrim and can be later used to your advantage in and outside of battle. But the lack of difference between classes makes it hard to see any reason to go back and replay the campaign when you can continue and do any side quests after you have finished the main story anyway. The only problem I ever found with the game is that they don’t do a great job at explaining certain aspects of the game if they explain it at all, such as switching party members or accessing certain parts of the menu whether that’s during combat or out of combat. I found that you will spend your time figuring things out for yourself but when you do its becomes simple and easy to get around the menu and combat system quickly and easily.

That’s about it for the things that I could find wrong with the game as everything else worked well, apart from the odd frame rate issue that came with playing on the console version of the game, but that’s expected. There was the rare occasion that I would find the odd stuck animation on the screen but there was never anything that I would say that I had a problem with it just reminded me that it was a game and not the show.

Now as far as the town itself, as soon as I was allowed to leave and explore the world I spent maybe 2-3 hours just exploring everywhere and everything that there was to find. What I found great is that it showed just how much Matt and Trey were so heavily involved in the making of the game as you explored a fully fleshed out town where everywhere and everything was a reference to the show. Whether it was the cinema showing the Terence and Phillip movie sequel, a reference to the movie, or just going into each kids bedroom and finding hundreds of references to the show. Everywhere in the town there was loot to be found as well that was just packed to the brim with references to past episodes that made me smile and laugh. It shows a fleshed out world that has so much potential for sequels and DLC to a game that has game of the year written all over it.

Everywhere in the town there was loot to be found as well that was just packed to the brim with references to past episodes that makes you smile and laugh.

With a fast travel system that will make you laugh when you see it that makes everything so much easier to traverse when you don’t want to run from one side of the map to the other. But while I will say that it makes things easier I highly recommend traversing the map with each party member as each has hilarious stories to tell, all of them telling the same story about Butters when you reach a certain are of the map which never gets old. My only wish is that there were more characters in the game one of which being Towlie who only appears in the loading screen but with such a large cast of characters it makes for so much potential DLC.

The final note I have to say about this game is that Matt and Trey I beg you to make another South Park game because if this is anything to go by you have set a high standard for comedy in games. With Matt and Trey working closely by the team at Obsidian they have managed to make what could be classed as the 18th season of the show or the second movie. I just hope that we will soon see DLC for the game or a sequel because I don’t want this to be the end of what has been a long road but a triumphant one that shows licensed games are able to be funny and brilliant. Even though this game doesn’t give any reason to play it a second time round it still sets a high standard as the funniest and mostly brilliantly written game around.

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