(TLDR? This review is also available in video format if you scroll down.)
Since 1997, South Park has graced television with its profane, unabashed, and satiric humor. With its success it has managed to become a part of American culture and spawn a full length movie and several video games along the way but none are quite up to level as South Park: The Stick of Truth.
With the help of Obsidian Entertainment, Matt Stone and Trey Parker have created the most accurate transfer of an intellectual property to games ever made. That being said, this is a game made with longtime fans of the series in mind. If you're not a fan of the show, or don't appreciate its style of humor your experience may differ drastically from the intended audiences.
The Stick of Truth picks up shortly after the trilogy events of Season 17. After an initial character creation screen you wake up as “the new kid” in South Park. Upon leaving your house, you'll befriend your neighbor, Butters, and venture on over to Cartman's house where he and Kenny, along with an ensemble of South Park regulars, are role-playing as a warring fantasy faction of humans that guard a sacred relic known as the Stick of Truth. After a brief introduction and Cartman honoring you with a chosen name his kingdom is assaulted by a band of elves who manage to steal the holy object. As in typical South Park fashion, the small and insignificant somehow manages to eventually involve the whole town and powers beyond as the story snowballs you through the town's workings, aliens, government interference, and of course... Nazi zombies.
One thing that's blatantly obvious from early on is that this isn't cable television's South Park. This is a humor much more akin to the 1999 South Park: Bigger Longer and Uncut, except on steroids and about 15 hours long, which is relatively short for a game of this genre. Much of the humor is crude and meant to be insulting, but fans of the show will find it quite satisfying. The South Park writers were really on their A game and the show makes constant references to its own history, from every single piece of junk you pick up to who or what is in each of the boy's closets. The amount of detail and respect this game has for the source material is really quite amazing. Its visual style makes you feel like you're actually playing the show and people walking by may not know the difference.
The game play involves you picking one of four classes, each with their own unique playing-styles. The combat plays out similarly to most JRPGs with a turn-based system that rewards timed button presses similar to Super Mario RPG. You’re also able to choose one of six companions to follow you at different points of the game each with their own distinct abilities. It's a streamlined but fun system that forces you to pay attention while you play, although its simplicity doesn't offer much in the way of a challenge. Occasionally you'll also be presented opportunities in which combat can be avoided or reduced by taking advantage of the environment around the foe. It's a great feature to have, as with most turn-based RPGs, combat isn't the high point and creates a nice rewarding dynamic when you see an opportunity to kill an enemy without direct confrontation.
To offset the impressively accurate paper cut out visuals, Stick of Truth employs a very serious orchestral soundtrack. You'll frequently be reminded of Game of Thrones and Skyrim while listening. Its contrast to the material creates a great comedic effect. The voice acting remains true to the show, with Matt and Trey supplying most of the voice work, often with the same voices for different characters, with the Nazi's having an effectively hilarious voice track.
While the content provided is an impressive representation of South Park, its accuracy raises the expectations enough so that when something from the series doesn't show up, it can be a bit disappointing. Some characters and locations are missing and one can’t help but think they were deliberately left out to allow for DLC and/or a sequel.
South Park: The Stick of Truth is a great game for people who appreciate the show or have a similar taste in humor. It can be a bit polarizing but that's to be expected with a title such as this. The writing is rich and full of references that fans will truly appreciate, but sometimes, as with the show some of the jokes can get old at times. Luckily however, there are enough jokes in this game to be thoroughly enjoyable throughout its somewhat brief duration. A relatively easy difficulty, and lack of post-game content and a somewhat questionable quest reward system, where you'll frequently get items well after they've had any use to you can cause a bit of tedium to set in. The gameplay holds its own, it doesn't do anything new or amazing but the charm that saturates every aspect of it makes it feel special. This is, hands down, the best South Park game ever made. If you're looking for the definitive South Park experience, waiting for season 18 or just want to laugh, this is the game for you.
TLDR? Here's a video my friend and I put together: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=14c4uo2bQA8
+ Honors the source material
+ Great writing
+ Looks exactly like the show
+ Always present personality
+ Best South Park Game Ever Made
- Combat is a bit easy and simple
- Short length when compared to most RPGs (Around 15 hours)
- Need to be a fan of the show to fully appreciate it