South Park: The Stick of Truth Review (PS4)
Little do they know, I’ll double cross them once I have The Stick of Truth in my hands.
Ah South Park: The Stick of Truth. I actually previously played this before, but I didn’t get far. Like at all. The only thing I remember is the name you’re given, the story revolving around a game the kids are playing, and the guy (aka Tom Cruise) in Stan’s closet. I actually stopped after I couldn’t figure out how to get the guy out of the closet and it wasn’t until later that I found out there’s no way. I’m sure it’s obvious by now that when I originally played this all those years ago it was when I didn’t watch South Park (I wasn’t even allowed to). Weird that I picked this game up.
I forgot about the game until recently. Whether it’s due to Snow Day being announced (and man, does the 3D look bad with South Park’s art style) or because I just had a random urge to try this game again, but here I am. Nine years after Stick of Truth originally released and roughly after I tried this game for the first time.
South Park: The Stick of Truth puts you right into the universe as your family just moved to the cozy little mountain town known as South Park. You play as a kid dubbed as The New Kid since you are, well, the new kid. For some reason your character doesn’t talk and it seemed to be something big considering how your parents talk about the past and it being the reason why you guys moved. While your parents aren’t involved much in the story, you do get some characterization on them; with the mom being nice and letting you go at your own pace while your dad is meaner, has no patience, and even tried to goad you into talking. Anyway, your parents tell you to go play outside and make some new friends. And that’s just what you do.
It doesn’t take long to come across some of the local kids and it’s Butters being attacked. How dare someone attack Butters the cinnamon roll and my favorite kid in the show. A little smack and Butters becoming your first friend here, you move on to Cartman’s house. Here, you learn that a lot of the kids are in a DnD style game where humans and elves are in battle over a stick that grants the wielder control of the entire universe (aka The Stick of Truth). You are brought into the game and you get to pick your na—no nevermind your name is Douchebag (thanks Cartman) and get to pick your class which determines what abilities you get, what you equip (though you can equip anything), and how you handle fights. All of them are OP in their own way, but I chose Thief. I was a sneaky boy that made people bleed.
Taking place over three days, you’re brought into an epic adventure that goes from being contained in their silly DnD game to quickly seeping into the real world. Classic South Park.
Don’t ask me how I avoided spoilers all these years, even I don’t know, but this game also managed to surprise me. I was not expecting the things that happened during the latter half of the game, such as what the late-game enemy types ended up being and what Canada looked like in-game (which was pretty funny and makes sense). I also did really like the pacing of the game. Even with the side quests, the game never felt like it had any filler, felt like it was stretching longer than it should, or that it was going too quickly. The game hits that “just right” pacing.
The town of South Park is actually available for you to wander around early on. You can even go into a lot of the buildings and it’s best to try and talk to everyone as they can give you a side quest or friend you on Facebook. Not to mention there are kids (or adults) that serve as a shopkeeper where you can sell junk items or items you just don’t need anymore and buy consumables, flair items to dress up, equipment, and equipment patches. Equipment patches basically give the piece of equipment you attach it to a little extra effect like giving you health regen or inflicting Gross on perfect attacks.
There are also collectibles. Equipment is counted as one in this game, but other than that you’ll be collecting Facebook friends and the Chinpokomon that are scattered all around. You won’t be able to get all of them right away, but you will be able to as you progress more in the main campaign and get more abilities, and specifically ones you can use in the overworld, which will let you reach areas you couldn’t (while also serves as a way to put in some easy environmental puzzles during the campaign).
Of course, with you being a part of this town-wide game between two waring factions, there is combat. The Stick of Truth’s turn-based combat is pretty simple, though I did find it managed to balance simplicity with some strategy so it’s not so easy it’s boring. Combat starts when either you or the enemy hits the other in the overworld, with whoever hit going first. You can also daze enemies in the overworld so when you do go into combat, they start out dazed and, even cooler, there are some situations during the main campaign where you can kill enemies in the overworld so you don’t have to fight them or end up having an easier encounter.
Anyway, no matter who goes first, you and the enemies take turns. You are accompanied by a buddy and you two will usually get one turn, but luckily you can do two actions. Consumables and your buddy’s buddy ability counts as an action you can do before attacking, which is definitely helpful if you need a quick heal, want to lose/gain a status effect, or need more PP. Attacking does end your turn, but you have a variety of attacks you can do. You have both a ranged and a melee weapon you can use. This game also uses reaction commands as once you see the weapon flash (and hear it) you press a button. Depending on the button, it’ll determine whether you do a normal, power, or a fart attack. There are also special abilities which cost PP and have their own button presses, but are stronger than regular attacks and some can inflict a status effect. And lastly, there’s fart magic which costs mana and each one have their own effects.
You control your buddy as well and they virtually plays the same, but they are locked in whatever weapon they have, like Kenny will always be a ranged attacker, but they do have their own abilities and buddy ability to carve out their own little niche. You can also switch out your buddy if you need to, but it will take a turn. Just remember that the extra action with consumables and buddy ability does still apply here so make sure to heal or use it before switching out. Switching out buddies is definitely helpful, like for example you need someone that has a guaranteed way to inflict shock damage so you switch out Butters for Cartman.
Though, you do have to pay attention to the enemies. The enemies can go into stances that’ll let them reflect melee or ranged attacks, they may have armor or shields that will effect how much damage you’ll do, or simply be immune or weak to something. This brings out just enough strategy to where you can’t just attack all willy nilly.
Once your enemy attacks, all you have to do is try to block their attack. Blocking reduces damage and also prevent any status effect that was attached to the attack. All enemy attacks are choreographed, so you’ll probably learn their wind ups as you play, but the game does help in putting a white circle at the feet of whoever is being attacked to signal when you need to press the button. Some attacks will have the enemy doing multiple hits, which I’m pretty sure you start a new block for each.
Combat is pretty easy actually and you can get OP relatively quickly. Like I played a thief and inflicting bleed was so OP. There were a few fights that were hard due to me being a thief, but I did manage to get through with the help of a buddy that had what I needed. I will also say to use your items. At the start it might feel like you’ll be limited in both money and consumables, but money is easy to get (with how much junk items you get that you can sell) and you’ll find consumables in your loot a lot.
Once combat is done, all you need to do is loot the kids’ pockets. I hope you weren’t carrying anything you didn’t want to lose.
There are also some side quests that you can do as well, with only one being missable from what I understand. The objective varies between side quests, but it does usually involve defeating an enemy (or enemies) or finding an item and reporting back; with rewards being added as a friend on Facebook, money, a summon item, and/or equipment/equipment patches depending on the side quest. You can leave these (except the one that is missable) until after you beat the game if you want. Personally, I did any side quest that didn’t have multiple objectives as I went along.
There wasn’t much that I didn’t like about this game, but there are some parts that were a bit annoying to get through. It was two of the fart tutorials and one main story section and this was due to the tutorial being subpar (especially for the main story section as it seemed I was doing it right, but I wasn’t doing it fast enough I guess?). I also did wish we got a tutorial on fart magic in combat considering it does work differently and I felt myself leaning away from using fart magic in combat as it would waste at least a turn trying to figure out how to successfully do it.
And lastly, this game absolutely nailed not only the style of the show, but the writing that doesn’t hold back and is so funny. I also loved how the consumables were just food or drinks (apart from two) to push the theming that this is just a game the kids are playing over the weekend. My favorite is how the revive potion is a taco. This game is also jam packed with references from the show’s first 17 seasons, from the main story events, decorations put around the place, and even the items you pick up (such as equipment and junk items). It’s been a while since I binged the series, but it was so fun seeing all of the references and remembering the episodes. Funnily enough, when I still had Douchebag wearing the Bad Irene wig, the episode it appeared in (W.T.F.) happened to air while I was just relaxing.
I was surprised, both pleasantly and grossly, by South Park: The Stick of Truth. There are some gross sections and some sections that are annoying to get past (due to poor tutorializing), but overall I really enjoyed the game. It did feel like you were a part of a South Park special episode, I enjoyed how this was jam packed with references from the first 17 seasons, and it was fun. This also might sound a bit bad, but I found this game to be so funny as well. I’m glad I picked this up and if you haven’t played this game yet I definitely recommend it.
Though I don’t think I’d recommend this game to those that don’t like South Park or haven’t watched an episode. If you don’t like the show, you won’t like this game. I can see those that never watched the show liking this game, but knowing all the characters, their personalities, and the references do make the experience better.