While "South Park" and its nearly two-decade run have proved that creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker know how to make funny, insightful and grotesque commentary on society, the series hasn't been as successful in the video game world.
But "Stick of Truth" seeks to finally conquer the gaming space by delivering a fairly solid interactive experience for die-hard fans. If you count yourself among them, it's a must-play.
The New Kid on the Park
"Stick of Truth" tells a grand tale of adventure and wizards and other high-fantasy stuff, from the view from the children of South Park. While it all seems innocent enough, the battle for the titular Stick of Truth — a legendary MacGuffin that grants the holder unlimited power — is causing chaos among the kids.
This is where you come into the fold. As "The New Kid"— a nameless, voiceless protagonist — you've recently moved to South Park and your parents force you to make some friends. You'll soon come upon Butters, where he'll take you to the Wizard King, Cartman. It seems you've been foretold as the chosen one and must resolve the conflict between the humans and elves. While at first the story is straightforward, eventually the fantasy tale becomes something much more with aliens, zombies, and government agencies hiding some dark secret about your past. Along the way, hilarious situations and references galore pervade "The Stick of Truth."
From the go, you'll notice that the game is cut from the same cloth from any episode. It almost seems as if South Park Studios handed the keys over to Obsidian Entertainment, as the visuals march in step perfectly. While the overall designs have always been that construction paper cutout look, the devs bring these creations to life. The simple designs really flesh out the world. It's practically like watching a real episode, except, you know, you're actually playing it.
The town is also pretty sizable. Explorable areas like the school, houses, shops are everywhere. And there are tons of secrets to find — every scene is packed with referential comedy that ties the game to the TV series, many of which only hardcore fans will understand.
Come Down South To South Park
In a way it's as if you're living a complete episode of South Park as you play. You're out there in the world taking care of business, then meeting up with core characters like Kyle or Cartman, where a funny scene will take place and progress the story.
Combat is simple yet surprisingly deep, with four classes of attacks that each have the power to give you an edge in battle. You'll also be able to recruit the usual suspects during your quest, each with their own strengths. The game skews a bit on the easy side, but overall, fighting is fun and can be as deep as you're willing to go.
Indeed, "Stick of Truth" is finally the game that South Park fans deserve. Funny moments exist just about every edge of the map and the dialogue truly shines. It's very telling how much creative control Stone and Parker had over the text, where their sense of humor drips from the screen.
Unfortunately, if you're not a fan, then your entertainment might not get past the first few minutes. This is a fan game, through and through.
We played on the Xbox 360 version, and while the game was enjoyable, there are a few bugs that need to be noted. Your avatar sometimes loads missing elements in cut scenes, sometimes dialogue gets cut off or the loads will hitch up a bit. These issues aside, "South Park: The Stick of Truth" is one of those rare birds of gaming -- a licensed product, taking years to develop, that really pays off for the fans.
"South Park: The Stick of Truth" is available now on PC, PS3, and Xbox 360.