First Impressions – South Park: The Stick of Truth
Nineteen seasons, one movie, and a computer game, following the offensive adventures of four young boys living in a small town in Colorado. Matt Stone and Trey Parker really know how to make money out of construction paper, memories of school, and delivering morals and important messages in the most politically incorrect way that they can possibly conceive.
It’s been a while since I bought something in a Steam sale, I mostly just sit, browse the options and think long and hard about my bank account, but £7 for South Park: The Stick of Truth? Worth it! I got chance to break into it over the weekend for an hour, and emerged again three hours later. Much like films, television has had a fairly conflicted relationship with computer games, but I am already in awe.
The fantasy characters from the Black Friday trilogy in season 17 form the cast, Grand Wizard Cartman, Princess Kenny and Paladin Butters introduce you – the new kid – to their cardboard Kingdom of Kupa Keep, wherein they guard The Stick of Truth, and train you to fight elves. The stick gets stolen, well done, you already failed. Suddenly South Park in Colorado is a fantasy map filled with adventure locations, sidequests and riddled with enemies, and not just kids wearing pointy ears! Meth addicts, hobos, and over zealous security guards stand between you and the stick, and you only have the power of imagination… and Butter’s hammer, seriously that kid is brutal.
The paper cut-out animation style is flawlessly translated into the 2.5D level design, even if the design makes it a little difficult to work out some of the pathing, that’s barely a hiccup, more something to get used to. Combat is turn based, with powers that increase in power with timing, a wide variety of combat options that change with circumstances and different opponents, and you can fling your own crap at people.
Just, find a toilet, scoop out that precious projectile, and next time you’re in a fight you just… throw it. What the hell guys? I mean, I know it’s South Park but… are we flinging our own poop? I had to mash buttons for this. You also have magical farts that require you to inhale through your ass to load – this is a parody fantasy made after Skyrim so obviously you’re the Dragonborn, and they have their own “arrow to the knee” parody. There’s even a character creation screen made almost instantly redundant by armour in real RPG style.
The collectables system is a little cheesy but fits in with the parody style. Gather friends on social media who hound you with banality (or in Cartman’s case, abuse), Chinpokomon toys which are hidden across town, and pieces of kit which can include the full druidic armour set, or a stained white tanktop and a stick with nails in.
So far so good though, although I’m still undecided whether I want Butters following me around telling me to get back on the quest and about all the terrible things other kids have done to him. He’s a powerful combatant and healer but he is Butters, and Butters is hella lame you guys. For now I have traded him in for the second unlockable companion, the fair maiden Kenny, who has yet to die.
A few things that have yet to develop in my first experiences in the game, aside from the currently inaccessible areas: little blue devices that seemingly have no effect but are clearly up to something no good; and literally everyone is glued to their phones. The adults pretty much ignore you breaking people out of jail, smashing public property, walking merrily into secure areas and even beating them around the shins because they’re too engrossed in their phones. The idle animation is kids busting out their phones. I smell social commentary, and what worries me even more is that my phone is on my knee right now.
This is not the first attempt at a full-sized computer game for South Park, but it’s certainly the first major success and has a sequel on its way later this year, The Fractured but Whole, which will see the Coon throw down against Mysterion, and we may finally see the return that fans have been waiting for: Mint-Berry Crunch. My plan now is to cram as much of Stick of Truth in before release so that I can launch into the sequel soon after.
Although there’s Dishonored 2 in between times… I don’t throw crap at anyone in Dishonored 2…