South Park: The Stick of Truth may be the first video game to do the foul-mouthed television series justice.
In almost two decades on TV, the controversial cartoon has seen a number of video game adaptations, which have largely seen negative reception among fans and critics alike.
However, Stick of Truth is the first such title to be directly written and voiced by South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone – and it shows.
The humour of the game is similar to the surreal and topical voice of the show, mixing gross-out laughs with pastiche and parody of the role-playing game (RPG) genre and the occasional topical poke at celebrities such as Justin Bieber and Al Gore.
Developer Obsidian’s experience with the genre is clear, and gameplay is fast and engaging, while continuing to keep the heart of the show in mind.
RPG tropes such as class-based skills (the four classes being warrior, wizard, thief and Jew) and appropriately fantastically-named weapons are combined with the ability to fart on enemies and summon a host of fan-favourite characters including the leather-clad Mr Slave, the anthropomorphic faecal matter Mr Hankey and Jesus himself.
Battles play out as a combination of Final Fantasy-style turn-based attacks, with tactical moves required to counter stances adopted by enemy combatants. Each attack performed by the player and their party member requires a quick-time event to deal maximum damage, with the actions varying from mashing, timing or combining button presses depending on character and skill.
The game looks, sounds and feels like a South Park episode – the stuttering animation and cut-out appearance of characters and locations is translated into 3D movement without sacrificing visuals or gameplay.
A whole host of recognisable characters and in-jokes – including ManBearPig, the City Wok restaurant and the Crab People – make an appearance throughout the storyline, which sees the player-controlled ‘New Kid’ join in with a town-wide live-action role-playing game.
The environments are also scattered with more subtle references hidden in item descriptions and less accessible areas for those willing to dig for those extra laughs.
A number of sidequests are offered to players looking to see more jokes and unlock the more ridiculous of Stick of Truth’s abilities, and the game balances the engaging gameplay of a traditional RPG with the infamous humour of the South Park series.
South Park and RPG enthusiasts should all find something to enjoy in this surreal, hilarious and earnest translation of one of television’s most well-known cartoons to the land of video games. Just try not to kill Kenny…