I Played An Hour Of South Park: The Stick Of Truth And Here Are Some Thoughts

Normally here's how things go. I play a game, and I try and write something fairly cohesive about how it played, what was interesting about it, blah blah blah. But South Park: The Stick Of Truth is sort of weird and what I've played so far doesn't really lend itself to that kind of thing. Instead this is a series of notes: things I found interesting, funny, well done, not-so-well-done...

Holy Balls It Looks Perfect

South Park: The Stick Of Truth looks great in a way few games can. Because the art of South Park is so stark and familiar it allows the game itself looks stark and familiar! Bizarrely, despite the deliberately lo-fi look of South Park, the fact that it's in super crisp HD actually accentuates the crapness, hence accentuating the style. Does everyone get what I'm saying here? It's weird.

Bottom line, South Park: The Stick of Truth looks incredible.

It Feels Like Playing An Episode Of The Show

This is such a lazy observation, but hear me out.

I can't think of a licensed game that looks so ridiculously close to its source material. Part of this has to do with the style of the show itself, and the fact that it can be replicated so easily with modern technology, but I think that probably downplays how much work Obsidian has but into making The Stick of Truth an authentic experience.

When I was a kid I remember Codemasters tried to sell its Dizzy series of games by claiming it was like 'playing a cartoon'. It was bullshit back then and it's bullshit right now, but South Park: The Stick Of Truth sort of fulfils that grand prophecy.

The Writing Is Great

It's subversive, it doesn't take itself seriously. It is legitimately funny. South Park: The Stick of Truth will most likely be one of the funniest games ever made.

I mentioned the word 'authenticity' above and, in a lot of ways, it's such a po-faced, rubbish word to use — but there's no other way of saying it. The Stick Of Truth just feels 'proper'. Part of that comes from the art, but the writing is about as crisp and pitch perfect as you could expect. It completely elevates the game and makes it feel legitimate. South Park: The Stick Of Truth could look good, it could play well, but if it didn't capture the spirit of the writing it would be all for nought. Thankfully, the writing is good. Very good.

It Sort Of Feels Like The Mario & Luigi Series...

And that's a good thing.

Especially with regards to the combat, which is turn based, but adds plenty of reaction-based button prompts to keep things interesting.

But the whole package — slick, funny writing. Pretty environments, the dialogue, the boss battles — the Mario & Luigi series feels like a huge touching point for this game and how it plays.

Um... It's A Real, Proper RPG

Again, this is a good thing.

I think part of me expected The Stick Of Truth to be RPG-lite, but it contains pretty much every element you might expect from a regular RPG — gear, loot, levelling, side-quests — all of that and more. The combat is also relatively deep.

It clicks perfectly with the tone of the game and the show. South Park: The Stick of Truth takes every opportunity to rag on the tropes of the genre, and wraps it so perfectly into one of the major themes of the show itself: the completely fucked up ways kids play together. Considering that South Park already has a history of taking the piss out of RPGs and MMOs, it works out seamlessly.

It's Frequently Confusing, And Leaves Players With Little To Go On

You know those moments in RPG/Adventure games where it feels as though the developer just gives you absolutely nothing to go on, and the only way you can = progress is by complete luck, or by randomly spamming every move in your arsenal until something works? I have a bad feeling South Park: The Stick Of Truth could be full of those moments.

Plenty of times during my hour with the game the Ubisoft representative felt compelled to tell me how to progress, and in these situations the solution always felt hopeless contrived. Like I would have had no idea unless someone explained precisely what I was supposed to do. It felt completely out of place.

And that's that.

I came into my hands-on of South Park with very little to go on. I hadn't seen much gameplay, hadn't watched many of the trailers. I was really taken aback by the authenticity and, most of all, the quality of the writing. I get the feeling this is what will allow me to push through some of the more frustrating aspects of the game.

South Park: The Stick Of Truth exists. It's not terrible. It's actually a very good video game. This is exciting.


    How come when I look at this article, all images are replaced with a crying koala?

      Try connecting through a VPN, the images look fine that way.

    They whole game was scripted by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, so it's pretty clear why the game is written so well/feels authentic.

      Also Obsidian is the best writers in gaming and roleplaying imo. Add Obsidian to the south park writers and you have a gold mine.

    Can't wait for this. It looks to be the best licensed property since Arkham Asylum; and if it's better than that, Goldeneye.

    Been keen for this since day one.... from everything I've seen there's no way it can disappoint !!

    after WOW, i swore i'd never play an RPG again, but this has piqued my interest.

    I had started to lose interest in this and had a growing concern that it wasn't going to actually be interesting or fun to play, but if the first impressions are positive then consider my interest re-piqued.

    If Kahlan, Richard and Zed show up I'm gonna lose my shit.

    @markserrels As someone that hasn't found South Park amusing since about 1999, but who loves Obsidian and cRPGs, should I try and be interested in this?

      Man, I dunno. If you don't like South Park's humour, I don't see you enjoying this.

      I too grew out of unfunny dick and fart jokes around that time.

        Then you probably haven't seen how much South Park as series has evolved beyond that. What makes South Park funny these days aren't the fart jokes (there are still some there) but the social commentary and the fact that noone is spared.

        And perhaps some day you'll grow out of being overly reductive and faux mature.

          Faux mature? Mate I'm a 29 year old married man...and I probably wouldn't be married if I still watched Terrence and Phillip fart on each other's head for half an hour a week. I still watch a heap of cartoons and play a tonne of games but south park, for me at least, got old a long time ago.

            I think if you only ever saw South Park as far jokes then your problem is what you took from the show, not the content itself.

            South Park has always been heavily laden with satire, the point of which is to provide commentary on the real world. I mean, if it wasn't clear surely Stan/Kyle's monologue/soliloquy at the end of each episode was a bit of a hint.

              Too right that's what I would take from the show because that's what it was 90% of the time. Unless something has changed in the past ten years and as I said I may give it another chance but from what I can remember it was mostly cheap attempts at humor based around farting, homosexuality, religion, etc. Sure some of it was funny but that shit gets tiresome. It wasnt that I was offended or anything just grew out of it. I can think of no other adults that still watch it and that says something.

              Stop trying to reason with him. The show is above his head.

        Well, they don't really do that so much anymore. I mean it's there, but as an aside. The main thrust of the shows now is spiking 'controversial' contemporary issues. So individual seasons are aging a little faster. But basically it's about exposing how ludicrous reality is through allegory.

      I don't like South Park at all and I really enjoy this game. It's stupidly immature and revolting, but it's still funny and a lot of the content in it is only stuff that South Park could get away with.

    You know those moments in RPG/Adventure games where it feels as though the developer just gives you absolutely nothing to go on, and the only way you can = progress is by complete luck, or by randomly spamming every move in your arsenal until something works?

    Those moments where it feels like the developers just assume you speak to/take notes from every NPC in every town every time you go through it suck but it's a very fragile balance. If the game is well scripted enough and the tasks are mechanically complicated/varied enough I look at it as almost unavoidable. It means they're playing the subtle line between giving you the story appropriate level of information and the mechanically appropriate level of information required to progress.
    The mechanical level requires you to always be telling the player where to go and what to do at all times, but the story level rarely extends to telling the player where to go in passing more than once. You have an NPC tell you 'go to the mine and use this magically crystal' more than two times or that bluntly and suddenly you're hammering the player over the head with information they probably didn't miss the first time they heard it. Only tell them once in a in-character conversation and you risk the player missing it or worse the information coming out watered down so it doesn't stick.
    It's something that traditional writers struggle with more than game writers, so hopefully that's a solid indicator that the 'proper' writers were majorly involved start to finish.

    On the other hand if the game isn't well scripted, the quests are simple and it still leaves you feeling completely in the dark on a regular basis I look at is as unforgivable.

    Last edited 17/02/14 2:54 pm

      Great point dude, it's why I never liked fable and viewed so many rpgs with a harsh scepticism. Being hand held through a rpg trying to immerse you in its story and world is fail. I instantly turn it off.

      Games like ff7 whilst it's lauded for its greatness and sure there were a few moments that I was completely lost seemed to grasp the fine line. By no means was it an open world game but it felt like it. It also felt like I was dictating the story too but that could've just been me and my list of rpgs were just b-gate n square.

      Yet games like wow, lost soo many times but it was a fresher genre to me and I obviously glanced over its short comings story telling wise due to other mechanics being unmatched.

      ... Well a long story about your points n exactly how I'll approach this game too

    "I came into my hands"

    this is all i took out of this

    I have to ask a stupid question, is it a MMORPG? or just single player RPG?

    Obsidian games often feel like a work by the great Italian renaissance masters, works of genius and beauty but never quite finished, just abandoned like the Mona Lisa or Sistine chapel.

    "I came into my hands"

    - Mark Serrels on South Park: The Stick Of Truth.

    I hate that style of combat :(

    I've never been a big fan of turn based combat but I really want to play this game. To my surprise, I really enjoyed the Mario/Luigi rpg series, the fact that you made mention of them in this article now just makes me want to play this game all the more.

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