The Stick of Truth is Fucking Hilarious
I love South Park, it has its highs and lows, but on average, I think its a terrific show that’s grown up as its aged. Video games have tried to take advantage of the quality of South Park quite a few times with limited success. The best attempt might have been a Xbox Live Arcade tower defense game with a quality skin of South Park over the entire thing. It was an alright game, but it felt like a pretty generic game with a few sound bites and some licensed assets added in. South Park: The Stick of Truth is what South Park games should have always been, and displays the potential of both humor in gaming and licensed video games.
Firstly, I cannot believe that I waited this long to play this game. I’ve looked forward to every new episode of South Park for years and loved the arc featuring the Stick of Truth, but this game came out when I was doing limited gaming and slipped by me. What a shame. But with the hype building around South Park: The Fractured But Whole and a great Summer Steam Sale deal, it was about time I jumped in.
Poking Fun at Cliche Game Mechanics
It’s amazing how genuinely the entire game looks like the show. Even though this was originally an Xbox 360 game, I can’t see it looking any better than this due to the art style of the show. I’ve seen this license squandered in the past though, and graphics themselves don’t do much for me although these are a bit of a special case due to subject matter. I’ve heard Matt and Trey took a more active role in the creation of this game due to the mixed results of South Park games in the past, and it shows. I am a biased South Park fan, but this may be the funniest game I’ve ever played and one of the best uses of a license. It pulls the player into what feels like a genuine, feature length, South Park story while never forgetting that it is also a video game.
It is at its best when it feels like a great South Park sequence that would only work in an interactive medium. It makes players a part of the joke and often attaches a video game trope mechanic to the joke to make sure it lands just right. This is fan service in the best possible way, while especially catering to fans that love gaming as well. This ranges from context sensitive lines from characters to hilarious button prompts. My favorites were scenes where Jimmy’s stuttering is never ending until you use the now cliche “press and hold to skip” button mechanic.
RPG mechanics and tropes are fully taken advantage of in the best ways as well. You get the chance to create your own avatar in the style of the show, which is great fun for fans. Then you get to name your character, but when Cartman asks you what your name is and the text input box appears you realize that you are a very literal silent protagonist. You can’t answer so the box defaults to a blank box and Cartman decides only one title is fit for a hero such as you… Douchebag, of course.
Befitting a fourth grader in South Park, you get made fun of a bunch for being weird and never talking, but you are also the hero of the town and the entire game. Fitting the classic silent protagonist role , there is also an awesome elf costume, which straight up makes you a South Park style Link from the Legend of Zelda.
So Many Great Video Game References
That isn’t the only funny and blatant nod to gaming culture though. The toxic goo in town from a UFO that’s causing so much trouble is doing so by turning anyone exposed to it into, wait for it…. Nazi zombies. The only enemy more played out than generic zombies. But they do it in a hilarious way by making fun of how done the idea Nazi zombies is, even as the zombie is running amok. Oh, and there are zombie nazi cats and mutant rats to, as well as babies…. I’ll let you figure that one out.
The adventure takes you to far off lands as well, well Canada, which hilariously transforms the game into a 16-bit classic RPG as soon as you cross the border.
Get into Your Own Epic South Park Adventure!
The whole gang is in tow on this epic too, so you can look forward to all of your favorites making appearances and doing what they do best. The main quest is definitely the main attraction in this game, but the side quests flesh out the world. Talking to characters at home often gets you a fun side quest to do a wide range of activities from play hide and seek with kindergartners to hunting down manbearpig and then Al Gore to unfriend him. They’re a blast and the art style makes it feel like each one is a South Park short hidden in the game.
Hilarious situations and dialogue are around every corner in the Stick of Truth. I’m glad I finally sat down with it and I cannot wait until the undoubtedly epic Marvel Civil War parody, South Park: The Fractured But Whole, comes out this winter. Thanks for reading and feel free to leave a comment below!