South Park: The Stick of Truth Review

South Park: The Stick of Truth box art

South Park: The Stick of Truth is not Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s first foray into the realm of gaming. There have been several South Park games in the past, but most of those were in the late ’90s, and none of them were very good.

We knew Parker and Stone had the chops to take their hilariously irreverent cartoon well into its second decade (while still maintaining its edge), but it seemed that a high-quality, successful video game wasn’t in the cards for the series that brought us ManBearPig and Mr. Hankey (the Christmas Poo). But that all changed with the release of the long-anticipated role-playing game, South Park: The Stick of Truth.

After a three-episode lead-in on the TV show, The Stick of Truth drops you into South Park, Colorado, where you play as “The New Kid.” You’ve moved there with your parents for reasons that are not yet clear, however, you quickly make friends with the kids we all know and love. Almost immediately, you’ll set out to discover the town on your own, and what you’ll find is that a lot of work went in to making sure everything is exactly as we know it from the show. We’re talking about some painstaking attention to detail.

South Park: The Stick of TruthUpon creating your character with developer Obsidian’s rather robust create-a-character system, you’ll soon find yourself in Cartman’s backyard, being recruited as a new member of the Kingdom of Kupa Keep (KKK), Cartman’s faction in the kids’ LARPing (Live-Action Role Playing) session. And thus, your adventure begins.

Throughout the game’s 15 hours, you’ll not want for laughs, as the jokes are delivered in rapid-fire succession. The landscape is quite literally littered with references from the show’s 17 seasons. The game is really a season all its own, with the same creative forces behind it. From the writing, to the jokes, to the voice acting and the art style, everything is exactly as it’s portrayed on television. In fact, The Stick of Truth could easily be mistaken for the show itself. It does that great of a job of recreating everything South Park is known for — even the silly little hippity-hop movement characters make when they’re walking or running.

In terms of gameplay, The Stick of Truth plays a lot like Paper Mario, which seems rather appropriate, considering South Park was actually made with paper cut-outs early in its life. But that’s not the only way it resembles Paper Mario. Sure, it’s on a 2D plane, but it features many of the button combinations and timing-based attacks that the Paper Mario series is known for. Plenty has been borrowed from JRPGs in general, with things like buffs and debuffs, only named with more playground-appropriate terms.

There are quests galore, which should satisfy fans looking to get as much as they can out of this game. Most are not mandatory, however, so it’s up to the player to decide whether or not they want to pursue the extraneous (but I suggest you do). And unlike many “serious” RPGs, the quests in The Stick of Truth feel meaningful, as even the smallest of quests are loaded with jokes and references. If you’re a fan of the show, you’ll want discover every last joke this game has to offer.

The one complaint I have with the gameplay is with the tutorial system. The most notable example of this is the farting (magic) mechanic. The explanations the game gives aren’t great, and don’t seem to match up with what you actually need to do when using the ability in actual combat situations. That minor gripe aside, the combat is solid.

South Park: The GameThe class system doesn’t seem to play a particularly large role in the game, especially later on, where the classes seem to muddle. But the upside to the classes is that they’re kind of hilarious. You can be a fighter, a mage, a thief, or a Jew. Yes, you can be a Jew! And that’s basically a paladin/monk type class, which was invented by Cartman. That said, there are no class-specific items, and there’s nothing to say a mage can’t work his way to becoming the physically strong warrior that the fighter is.

I would say the biggest issue with The Stick of Truth is that it does have a few irritating bugs and glitches. Luckily, I only encountered a few, but I’ve heard of other people having inordinate amounts. For me, my issue was that maybe two or three times, there would be an action sequence that would need to be initiated by the enemy party, but the game would just sit there. It didn’t freeze, and it was still running, but the AI wasn’t triggered to start its part. The game saves fairly frequently, so it meant I only needed to reload my save file and it was fine.

Some people have taken issue with the game’s length, but more and more these days, I feel like 15 hours is just right. I’m not in high school anymore, so I don’t have the luxury of spending insurmountable amounts of time just playing one single game. And with South Park, 15 hours felt just right. I think Parker and Stone would agree, considering how extensively they’ve spoken about just how damn hard it was to write for this game. As talented as this duo is, they’re used to writing a 22-minute episode in a week, which is a small miracle in itself, but it didn’t necessarily prepare them for the pains of making a 15-hour interactive gameplay experience over the course of about four or five years, while still writing and voicing the show.

There’s no denying that South Park: The Stick of Truth has gone through a bumpy development cycle. Release dates were missed and postponed, THQ (the game’s original publisher) went bankrupt and died, Ubisoft picked it up — unbeknownst to Parker and Stone, who didn’t find out until weeks later, seemingly off-the-cuff — and development hell seemed to go on forever. In other words, there’s a lot that went wrong throughout the process of developing this game, which could have easily made this a real stinker. So it’s that much more impressive to see the impeccable quality of the final product. No, it’s not perfect, but its faults are easily overlooked.

Basically, if you like South Park, you will not be disappointed. It delivers on every level that a South Park fan could expect. From the biggest pillars of the series’ trademark style, to the tiniest of subtle details, The Stick of Truth makes good on every level. And like the show itself, this game is balls-to-the-wall with its jokes and over-the-top content. You should expect to be floored with laughter throughout the adventure because of just how downright ridiculous and absurd it all is. But that’s what we love about South Park.


  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Myspace
  • Google Buzz
  • Reddit
  • Stumnleupon
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • Technorati
Author: Josh Robinson View all posts by
Josh is a 25-year-old man-child who loves pizza, video games, baseball, cartoons and anime. Most of his heroes are middle-aged Japanese men, and he's been known to quote Seinfeld at random. You can find him on Twitter using the handle @averagejosh.

Leave A Response

You must be logged in to post a comment.