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South Park: The Stick of Truth: A true South Park game for true South Park fans

Hayden Dingman | March 5, 2014
Over the course of South Park: The Stick of Truth's 12-plus hour running time it throws probably a thousand (or more) jokes at you. Big jokes. Small jokes. Short jokes. Sight gags. Elaborate jokes. Dumb jokes. Offensive jokes. Political satires. Sociological commentaries. Video game commentaries. Commentary commentaries.

Even the harder fights are rendered silly by the sheer number of potions the game gives you. It's hard to feel threatened when you're sitting on a stockpile of fifty or sixty health potions by the end of the game.

Stick of Truth also falls into the Final Fantasy hole — some of the most powerful attacks are tied to a fifteen or twenty second animation that's funny once, a bit lengthy the second time, and tedious by the third. You end up brute-forcing many battles with the simplest moves just to avoid watching those scenes again, which is a shame.

All that said, the combat is engaging — at least more so than straight turn-based systems. And the team really outdid itself coming up with character-specific abilities; unlocking new companions for use was always exciting.

The real joy, however, comes from exploration. Because it's in exploration that Stick of Truth's fan service feels least obtrusive — just wandering around South Park opening drawers and learning more about the town's denizens. Finding new abilities, Metroidvania style, to open previously unaccessible areas. Reaching that treasure chest you were confused by earlier, and finding a sweet wig inside. It's actually funny the game nags you about returning to the main storyline while exploring, because I found the latter far more interesting.

Bottom line
If you're not a South Park fan, well, there's not much to recommend. Stick of Truth is the same brand of humor, only distilled. The game is so reference-based, it's hard to know how much you'd understand if you don't watch the show regularly.

But the game's a lot of fun, though less in a laugh-out-loud funny way than a this-is-satisfying way. As I said, Stick of Truth throws a thousand jokes at you and most of those jokes don't stick. There's enough here, however, that South Park fans will want to check it out. This is a respectful and faithful adaptation — something other tie-in games could learn from.


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