When I was trying to come up with an introduction to this review, all that popped into my head was a string of quotes and references from South Park. This is actually very reflective of The Stick of Truth; you can’t wave a stick (pun intended) without hitting some recognisable character/item from the show. And that definitely works in its favour.
You play as the new kid in town, who clearly has some dark secret but conveniently doesn’t talk so you won’t find out what it is until much later in the game. The first person from the show you meet is Butters who informs you that the Wizard king (Cartman) wants to see you. And so begins a fantastically warped story that could easily have come from an episode of the show itself.
The Stick of Truth is basically an open-world RPG with turn-based combat though it has a little extra involvement during the battle scenes. When it comes to picking your class, you have the usual RPG tropes to pick from. Fighter, mage, thief or Jew. I went a Jew of course (actually a paladin/monk type class invented by Cartman). Each class has abilities suited to them and a Jew’s include Jew-jitsu and Circum-scythe among others.
The combat is typical turn-based but with a definite South Park flavour and some melee action thrown in to keep you on your toes. For certain actions quick time prompts will appear where you have to hit a button at the right time or just simply mash. It does feel repetitive after a while. In fact as a game, The Stick of Truth is average but no-one is playing this for its innovative gameplay.
It looks just like the show, right down to the way the characters move and talk. Having been a huge South Park fan for almost as long as it’s been running, I was thrilled to be able to actually explore the streets of this quiet little mountain town. Definitely one of the highlights of the game is finding all the references tucked here and there. There’s so much for fans to discover.
You’ll meet lots of characters on your journey, some familiar, some new, and most of them will have some sort of quest for you to complete. Don’t be too quick to pass these off. Once you’ve finished the quest you’ll be rewarded with a friend request from the character. The more friends you make, the more perks will be available to you. It’s an excellent incentive.
There is also the ability to upgrade your items/weapons/armour as you gain experience and you will also find patches and strap-ons which can be used to customise items. These can range from fire to ginger pubes which gross your opponents out. You will have a companion for most of the game and you can change them at any time, provided you’ve unlocked them. Each have their own special moves so it will depend on what suits your play style best. A nice touch is the way your companion makes character-driven observations as they’re following you about. It never feels generic.
It pains me to have to say something bad about this game and I would happily overlook these piffling matters if I weren’t writing a review but here goes. I played on a PS3 and there were a few glitches during some of the combat scenes and after loading. Also it crashed near the end. Thankfully it only happened once and I was able to go back in almost at the same point but it was a bit of a bummer. Despite this I would play The Stick of Truth again.
Fans of the show will undoubtedly be like me and simply overjoyed to have the chance to play in South Park. But even if you’re not a South Park fan you could still get something out of it, as long as you’re not easily offended. Humour has always been a major thing for the show so there is a lot to laugh at and even some parts I had to replay didn’t lose their mirth for me. Though I don’t get out much so that might something to do with it.
In case you couldn’t tell, I loved this game and I can’t recommend it highly enough. I’ve tried to write this without giving away any spoilers because it is best enjoyed when you don’t know what’s coming next, which in South Park can (and does) mean anything. I will say one thing though. Canada. Brilliant.
Despite its few flaws The Stick of Truth comes with a fun gaming experience that will have you lol-ing for a long time.
MLG Rating: 8/10 Format: Xbox 360/PlayStation 3/PC Release: 07/03/14
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a copy of South Park: Stick of Truthfor review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of 3 days on the PlayStation 3. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.