After several years in development, with multiple delays and problems, the sequel to South Park: The Stick of Truth has finally hit shelves. The action picks up from the end of Stick of Truth with the protagonist “New Kid” holding the crown as king of the kids’ Dungeons & Dragons-flavored LARP sessions. This particular game gets cut short by the appearance of the Coon, Eric Cartman’s superhero character.
South Park: The Fractured but Whole piggybacks on the recent success of Marvel and DC movies, like the Season 14 “Coon and Friends” storyline of the show. The result is a hilarious adventure that fans of the South Park TV show will really appreciate.
At the outset, you’re given a choice of three classes: Speedster, Gadget, and Assassin. Humour and social commentary abound, like when the game bluffs and says you’ve triggered hard mode when you choose dark skin color. I started with the Speedster class, but you can change at any time by returning to base and speaking with Cartman. Eventually, you unlock different classes. In a neat touch, your origin story changes slightly as you get these new powers, with things getting incredibly awesome as you progress. Once you’ve initially gained your powers and changed into your superhero costume, Cartman will sign you up to Coonstagram, and you must go around building your army of followers from South Park’s storied cast of characters.
Some characters (like the girls at Raisins) have requirements before you are able to interact with them on Coonstagram, which can be anything from doing side quests, having a certain amount of followers, or even purchasing items from the shop. Your character sheet will be filled out slowly as you progress through the game, with several customizable options. Your Kryptonite, for example, offer several choices for what you are slightly weaker against. For instance, my character ended up weak against old people–why not?
Your team consists of three characters from the show that tag along with your custom character. Each one has their own superhero power, from Jimmy’s Speedster class to Token’s Gadgeteer class. The kids have the same classes that you can eventually pick if you keep playing through the campaign; the only two with unique classes are Cartman and Kenny.
You’ll make use of your class and its unique abilities in Fractured’s grid-based battle system, which is an interesting tactical evolution from Stick of Truth’s very traditional JRPG combat. In Fractured, you can move your character around slightly during your turn and line up attacks, some of which behave like area-of-effect attacks or deal knockback or status affects. In the use of AOE attacks, you’ll also want to leverage the extra turn they require to move characters out of the way; conversely, when an enemy lines up the same, you can focus damage to interrupt what’s coming. It’s a deeper, thoughtful system that gives plenty of challenge throughout the game.
On the other hand, equipment has been removed and replaced by the Might system. You gain Might by equipping artifacts you can either craft, buy from shops, or even earn from quests along the way. My main issue with this system is I really didn’t feel like my damage had increased much by the end of the game. I was close to 800 Might, yet I felt like I was doing as much damage as when I started. I think this is mainly due to enemies scaling with you, so you never feel stronger than them at any point. The challenge is always there, but you scarcely feel like you’re growing.
You unlock extra slots for artifacts by leveling up your character. You can also use summons in this game, which can range from healing to AoE damage, and my only issue with these is the amount you get in a playthrough is limited. This is mainly to balance their game-changing power, but it can mean a hesitation to actually use them. When you do, if the next opponent is harder, you’ll be kicking yourself for not keeping one or two summons spare.
You’ll also find several different collectibles, including memberries and yaoi pictures found around town. There’s not an overwhelming number, so the prospect of collecting them all isn’t so intimidating, and you’ll need to use abilities in unique ways to reach some of the harder ones.
In general, I found that changes to South Park: The Fractured but Whole really enriched the experience, with the new crafting system and the new style of combat bringing the most to the game. My only significant issues is that the fast travel spots are too far apart and sometimes the game is oddly quiet when walking around the town. I would have appreciated more background music and sounds throughout.
Overall, South Park Fractured But Whole is a resounding success, building expertly on the crafting and combat systems of the previous game while bringing with it the hilarious South Park humor we love.