Quickfire Review: South Park: The Stick of Truth
Spoiler-Free Summary: South Park: The Stick of Truth is a completely enjoyable throwback and parody of old-school, turn-based role-playing games that is incredibly faithful to its source material. If you are either a fan of the or genre you will most likely enjoy the game, though the $60 price tag might be a little steep for the short running time (about 15 hours).
Review that might contain slight spoilers — beware: I’ve only ever been a fringe fan of South Park, meaning I don’t watch every episode but if and when I do happen to catch it I usually always enjoy it. What I like most about the show is the fact that it exists and has thrived. The world needs this kind of satire and I have a lot of respect for Matt Stone and Trey Parker as writers and social commentators.
So when I knew this was coming out, like a lot of people, I was skeptical if their brand of humor and social satire would translate properly. Well, it did and it is fantastic. South Park :SoT basically gives you the feeling of playing through an extended episode of the show, and it does so through the framework of an old-school RPG, with all of the tropes and trappings that go along with the genre (turn-based combat, taking silly amounts of junk from people’s houses and game rules and mechanics that sometimes don’t make sense).
The best part of the game is that Stone and Parker do not pull any punches or hold anything back for the sake of it being a video game. All of you favorite characters are there as well as all of the jokes; from Al Gore to butt-probing aliens and even Mr. Hanky — they’re all here. However, they are used within the story and not merely as window dressing or fan service (though there is a little of that).
The RPG game part of SoT works out well too because they didn’t try to reinvent the horse. They took all of the classic RPG elements and used them — often times making fun of them completely — to tell a story that within the rules and constraints of the world of South Park that Stone and Parker have built. This is another reason the game seems to work so well. The two parts of the game — the license and the RPG — don’t conflict and actually complement each other quite well.
I did encounter a few bugs and glitches that others have experienced, chief among them my character flickering in and out of existence during some cut scenes, a start reminder that my presence is completely secondary to the action. But even that was a bit of snark, not so much the glitch but what it pointed out. In a lot of old RPGs your character didn’t speak either (your South Park character has no lines) and served only to propel the story forward through battling monsters and just going where the NPCs told him to go. That’s exactly what South Park does and if you get the joke then the linear nature of it is pretty funny.
Another issue is the short running time. I did every quest and completed the game just shy of 15 hours. I didn’t get all of the collectibles but honestly the achievements really aren’t worth it. Sure there is some replay value in playing through again as a different class, but not much. The length of the game would be fine if they weren’t charging the standard AAA rate of $60 (which I paid), but it just seems like that’s a steep price for such a short game. But perhaps that’s just me being spoiled by the indie market.
Regardless of that though I must say I thoroughly enjoyed my time with South Park: The Stick of Truth. It is a fun game from beginning to end and had some really great, hilarious moments that will not disappoint fans of the show. If you’re not a super fan of the genre or the show, however, I might wait to pick it up on sale.
South Park: The Stick of Truth is available for Windows PC, PS3 and XBox 360.
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