A tl;dr Haiku
and great RPG gameplay.
Got what I paid for.
Farts, slapstick, toilet humor, and role playing games. South Park: The Stick of Truth by Obsidian Entertainment, for multiple platforms, hits on and mixes all of these to create a video game based off a T.V show. And as a departure from what I find to be the norm concerning games adapted from television programming, this game actually isn’t terrible! Instead of a fast and cheap knock off to make a few dollars, Stick of Truth manages to capture the spirit of the show it’s based on while still playing as a fun and interesting RPG in its own right.
Gameplay 9.0 / 10
This game surprised me with its solid gameplay. The system for attacking, using abilities, and defending is interactive beyond simply selecting a command and watching the RNG go to work. There are key points in combat when a button input will be required to optimize a command. Successfully hitting these inputs will determine damage done, damage taken, and whether or not certain combat effects are implemented. I’m a huge fan of this kind of feature. It kept the gameplay interactive and kept fights from getting stale in a “select, click, rinse and repeat” sort of way.
The other significant aspect of the gameplay was the buddy system. Rather than have a large party of adventurers in combat all at once, a single buddy accompanies the player in combat. Each buddy, who are unlocked as the story progresses, have different abilities both in and out of combat. Some may help keep you healthy, some may deal heavy damage, and some do a little bit of everything. There’s a good amount of variance in the pool of buddies who become available, and each of them can compliment the player’s character class in some way.
The biggest flaw in the gameplay was the tutorials. The game would demonstrate the ability it was trying to teach, as well as the button commands required to use the ability, and then allow the player to try. If it was just that, there wouldn’t have been an issue. The problem was if the player failed, the tutorial would replay. And it would replay each time the player failed. If there was a certain part the player had trouble learning, he or she would be forced to watch the tutorial repeatedly rather than have additional opportunities to practice and get over the challenging segment. There weren’t many tutorials, but the few there were were frustrating and the player isn’t even given the option to skip them.
Graphics and Art 8.0 / 10
From an art perspective, the game captured the look of the South Park television show wonderfully. Also from an art perspective, that means it wonderfully captured the look of crude paper cut-outs. I still gave it a high grade here as the art was obviously stylized and because the visual effects for the combat abilities were excellent.
Story 8.0 / 10
The script was handled by South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and the script and story in the game were just as funny as any episode of the show. For me, that meant it was absolutely hilarious. But to some, Parker and Stone’s trademarked complete-lack-of-anything-resembling-tact, there are a few points of the game which could be considered offensive. This isn’t making much mention of the plot, which was average to put it bluntly. It was fun to play through, but certainly not something that is going to make a player stop and think about the deeper intricacies of its development.
Audio 7.5 / 10
The soundtrack, like the story, borrows heavily from the South Park show. The music is often low-key and keeps to the background, but will occasionally ramp up as to set the mood for certain scenes. All in all, nothing extraordinary, but it gets the job done.
The sound effects, while potentially gross depending on the current subject matter in the game, are still excellent. They add to the combat, as well as the humor, and enhance the overall feel of the game. It’s always funnier seeing someone get decked in the face with a baseball bat when there’s a satisfying crack accompanying the blow.
I came into Stick of Truth looking for two things: the high quality gameplay I’ve come to expect from Obsidian Entertainment and the humor I’ve come to expect from South Park. I got both. South Park: The Stick of Truth easily met my expectations and gave me more. The multiple-class system gave me a reason to keep playing after beating the main story and primary side quests, which were short by RPG standards at about 8-12 hours, and continue to seek out every hidden collectible I could get my hands on. As an overall solid game, I give South Park: The Stick of Truth 8.5 / 10 for THE Grade. For exceeding my expectations and delivering a hilariously entertaining experience on top of that solid game, I drop THE Hammer at 9.0 / 10. For the thick-skinned and the libertarians, I give the game a solid recommendation. For everyone else, I still recommend it, but I’ll just warn you to try and not take it too seriously.
THE Grade: 8.5 / 10
THE Hammer: 9.0 /10