Based on the long standing truth that games formed around already established intellectual property are usually second-rate and the fact that the development cycle was off at best, It would be forgivable to think that South Park: The Stick Of Truth would release as a write off. A whole host of problems should have held back the release of this RPG, however, The Stick Of Truth is surprisingly fantastic in almost every way.

There is a rather large caveat to anyone’s enjoyment of The Stick Of Truth. Despite the game being made by Obsidian, a studio built for making RPGs, TSOT is entirely a vehicle for South Park first and a role playing adventure second.

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The game is written by, voiced by and generally overseen by the creators of the show, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, meaning the DNA of the series runs deep through it. Everything from the overall look and animation to the smallest, tiniest, detail is pulled straight from the series. You get that “wonky, cut out” look when characters walk up and down stairs. You get that guitar strum every time a new act of the story is started. Each little nuance in the voices, the animation, the in-game world of South Park, the sound effects, just everything comes from the series. That deep level of fandom is exactly want I wanted going in and, as a result, left a smile on my face upon finishing it up.

The set up for the narrative is exactly what makes South Park great. You take on the role of the new kid in town, quickly nicknamed “Douchebag”, as you join up with the South Park regulars as they battle over the mystical Stick Of Truth – the stick that controls the universe. Meanwhile there the parents of South Park are having their own crises and there is a whole thing with aliens, nazi zombies and government cover ups. A typical South Park Affair.

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However, despite the everything going to hell in the quiet, little, mountain town, an imaginary quest for a random twig is the most important thing in the lives of the kids. It’s entirely in their imagination too. In the combat, where we see a flaming tennis ball, the kids see a bad-ass magic spell. It not only serves the show, where the kids lives are more important than the adults, but it very much brought me back to playing cops and robbers when I was eight or nine years old.

Where the show tends to rip on common trends or news stories and the like, The Stick Of Truth rips on all the fantasy tropes you know from years of RPG playing. That could be the loot you get, of which there is a lot, the characters and their role within the story, pieces of dialogue, actual map screens and whole quest structures. It manages to sustain that scathing parody that the show does so well and is very successful in balancing that with the equal opportunity offending and absurdity that South Park offers up in every episode.

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Even if you dislike RPGs, you will still get so much from The Stick Of Truth. However, if you are looking for a great, expansive RPG and dislike South Park, you may not get much from it. Honestly, the RPG mechanics that are there are reasonably lacking. Don’t expect to be worrying about genre placeholders like, grinding, overencumbance, lasting status effects, classes that matter and even things like dying. Instead, you can expect just, maybe eight or nine attacks, some buffs and debuffs, a couple of status effects and a summon or two.

The lack of a deep RPG system is not to the games detriment though. Each attack is based on, at it’s core at least, a quick time event; one that never changes either. Depending on the varying degrees of success you have with completing said QTE, you will deal a varying amount of damage to your opponent. Things get slightly more complicated when you start throwing in “bleeding” status effects, reposts or repel stances and other similar tweaks to the battle; however, the game’s difficulty curve and excellent user interface, mean that those small extras are slowly ramped up and easily spotted. Getting into the what the attacks actually are is a no-no. Just like the rest of the game, the joy comes from the surprise and the joke.

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Outside of combat scenarios, you and your band of merry and sweary eight year olds can wander a incredibly faithful recreation of the town of South Park. It is not your Wasteland or your Zanarkand, but has enough detail in the visual design of each location and dungeon area not to get boring. A dozen or so side quests also litter the areas around the town and, while most are not that interesting or involving, they do a fantastic job of squeezing in other famous characters and locations from South Park lore.

The world is crammed full of loot too. Everything from vendor junk to killer weapons and everything in between. You can change your appearance at anytime with found facepaints, beards, masks, clothes, each of which having a definite and immediate effect on your stats or your look. However, such over abundance, means that money is never a problem for “Douchbag”, which leads to you then buying the expensive and powerful gear leading you to become very overpowered in some battles.

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The Stick Of Truth defies what many want from a big sprawling role playing game and instead offers a lovingly stripped down version of it. Some would probably say it is easier than your standard turn based RPG and is, therefore, boring. However, for me, it dips it’s toes in the right amount while still allowing me to enjoy the hilarity without the repetition I usually face in almost every over RPG. It’s that fact that makes South Park: The Stick Of Truth so fantastic and enthralling. There are just enough mechanics to keep the fourteen hours of disgusting and absurd jokes an absolute joy to play through.

This review is based on a review copy of the Xbox 360 version of South Park: The Stick Of Truth developed by Obsidian and published by Ubisoft.

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Have Yourself Time | South Park: The Stick Of Truth Review (2nd Opinion)
  • So Very South Park
  • Just Enough RPG
  • Not To Everyones Taste
10Overall Score
Reader Rating: (2 Votes)

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GuestPost represents the work of past New Gamer Nation writers. Though they may not be with us anymore physically, we know they are with us in spirit.