This game is not a shabby game adaption of a successful franchise that completely fails like any other game adaption. This is a game that was written, designed and developed by the original South Park creators. Including original voices and all the trademark (dark) humor the TV show has become famous for.
Because of this, South Park: The Stick of Truth feels like you are watching a feature length South Park movie. Everything is just there. The characters are spot on. The voices are spot on and the story line is traditionally ‘wtf am I watching’ good/fun. Even when you’re actively controlling your character the world around you feels ‘real’.
You play as ‘the new kid’ who’s parents moved to South Park after some incident involving you. And as you go out to make friends you run into the South Park cast who are in the middle of a very very serious role playing game involving humans vs the elves. The role playing game mechanics the children have made up is translated into gameplay mechanics. Foods are health potions, energy drinks are power potions and anything that gives you serious gas are mana potions.
The gameplay is fairly fun, though also fairly limited. You are free to explore South Park as much as you wish and interact with its inhabitants. Meanwhile you can raid their houses and garages for items and potions without consequence. The world is fairly intractable. Often you are able to shoot things or break things outside of combat. Sometimes leading to taking out enemies before a fight actually starts. This is a good thing because the fights tend to get boring fast.
Fighting occurs when enemies tag you during exploration. You can also tag them first, whoever lands the first blow gets to take the first turn during the combat phase. The combat mechanics themselves center around turn based combat. You and one companion have to battle up to six enemies at a time. During a turn you may consume an item to give you a bonus and perform one attack. When all enemies are defeated the fight is won and you go back to exploration.
The fighting mechanics work and are fun. But they are only fun for so long. Especially in the beginning you are regularly jumped by enemies who force you into a fight. For me this started to get annoying because I just wanted to get to my next objective, not do all kinds of random fighting. Later in the game this becomes increasingly frustrating because fights become more frequent and enemies become harder to beat and/or appear in larger numbers.
The actual attacks are also confusing. There is a whole range of buttons and combos to use various attacks, but none of them seem to make any sense. One sword requires a left click, another sword requires a right click. The ‘spells’ are taught to you through a complicated ‘find the right frequency’ tutorial but this is never applied again during actual fights. Blocking enemies can get tedious and frustrating. The game will indicate when you need to block, but this turns out to be highly inaccurate. There is also the use of shields and armor which are apparently two different things but are never properly explained. A lot of fighting mechanics are just thrown at you and you are left to figure out how they work on your own.
All in all this is a very good game. True to the TV show and fairly ok gameplay to boot. But this being South Park, be prepared for some extremely weird and grotesque scenes. From visuals of anal probing to Nazi zombie fetuses (including swastikas) that spew various Adolf Hitler soundbites at you. If you think you know what to expect from South Park, be prepared to see them push the limits of the acceptable.
Recommended to get this game on or off sale. It’s worth full price if you ask me.