South Park: The Stick of Truth Review - a side-splitting RPG with real character
- Posted March 4th, 2014 at 02:59 EDT by Steven Williamson
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A side-splitting romp with all the sharp satirical humour we've come to expect from South Park. Strip away its wit and, despite a few flaws, you'll find a satisfyingly deep RPG.
- Very, very funny. If you love South Park, you'll love all the characters, dialogue, and the RPG twist.
- Standard RPG quests jazzed up with uniquely themed missions.
- Tactically engrossing turn-based combat with enemies, weapons, and powers that have a South Park twist
- Constant menu and map reference
- Loading screens and framerate drops
- Censorship in EU is frustrating, especially when it crops up in a particularly boring, long-winded section
Your first friend is ne'er-lucky Paladin Butters, who takes you to the Kingdom of Kupa Keep (KKK), a makeshift camp in 'Grand Wizard' Cartman's backyard complete with an armoury, a lookout post, and stables (a sandpit). Kupa Keep is the initial hub from where you and Cartman's gang--the Humans--protect the Stick of Truth from the Elves, the opposing faction. The Stick of Truth is soon stolen from the camp and the new kid on the block, amicably named ‘Douchebag’ by the Grand Wizard, is called upon to help out the group by traipsing around the town of South Park carrying out quests and fighting elves and other enemies. At this point, you're introduced to the class system, where you get to choose between becoming a Fighter, Mage, Thief, or Jew, with each sporting different attributes, abilities, and gear sets unlocked throughout the game.
Like most RPGs, gameplay boils down to NPC interaction, combat, exploration, and side quests of the kill-fetch-escort variety. Unlike most RPGs, however, the game world is fairly small, with players able to walk from South Park Elementary School in the West to Kenny’s House in the East in less than a couple of minutes. Nevertheless, there’s plenty to explore with most of the buildings in South Park, like City Wok, Tom's Rhinoplasty, and many kids' houses, open for exploration. Though it's great to able to explore some of the locations that we're familiar with, there’s no doubt that the game would have benefited from an on-screen mini-map or quest arrows. Such is the multi-tiered layout of South Park and its streets--I was constantly opening and closing the game's map to gauge my position, be reminded of quest locations, and check for the quickest routes.
That doesn’t mean that exploration is mundane; far from it, in fact. From a handful of pubes that can be sold at the armoury to clothing that gives you a tactical advantage in battle, there are tons of nostalgic items to collect and it’s great fun exploring the likes of Cartman’s bedroom or a hobo’s camp, thanks largely to the unpredictable nature of what might happen, or be said, next. Ruffling through the bedroom drawers and businesses of the neighborhood in the community center which makes searching for items as entertaining as it is useful. There’s also collectibles to search for, such as Chinpokomon, and plenty of opportunity to interact with the familiar cast of characters and scour areas for dozens of items hidden away that will help you with your quests.