There’s only one way I can put this. If you’re not a fan of South Park, don’t buy it. Otherwise, it’s kind of like watching a game of Curling at the Olympics. Brushes move and spinning objects go round and round, making pretty circles on the ice while you’ve got nary a clue as to what’s going on. As a regular viewer of the cartoon, I get most of the gags in the game; however, so many of the in-jokes are so self-referential that it’s sort of incestuous. Coming in at approximately twelve+ hours long, South Park: The Stick of Truth‘s 12-plus hour running time, I would bet there are at least two thousand jokes being lobbed at you by the show’s grenade tossing creators, Matt Stone and Trey Parker. It throws probably a thousand (or more) jokes at you. Again, if you’re not into boom-boom-boom, non-stop humor, I doubt if this game’s for you.
The game sets the entire town of South Park against poor peace-loving Canada. Super-satirists Stone and Parker have created a new character, the New Kid, a/k/a the ‘Douchebag’. A sad young lad, our Douchebag searches high and low on a relentlessly pitiful quest to make friends. This search for meaning and friendship in Douchebag’s existence draws the player into a kind of J.R. Tolkien meets H.P. Lovecraft, Middle Earth civil war between Cartman’s human and Kyle’s elf kingdoms. Yes: They’re at war over the mythic titular Stick of Truth. It’s just a stick, you think, until you see its magic abilities to decide the fate of the universe. If you take Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit seriously, you might also be better off buying a game copy just to destroy it!
All well and good, that is, until you’re about halfway into the game and things get weirdly like a psychotic game show, the details of which I’m not going to give away. At any rate, free from the bluenoses of television, Stick of Truth lets it rip and cuts loose with all the stuff Parker and Stone don’t even attempt to get away with on television. Blasphemy, nudity, relentless jokes about assholes, farts, poop, projectile vomit in biblical proportions. My kids were always ready for this kind of ‘entertainment,’ but if you hold dear to the Ten Commandments and the tenets of patriotism, feminism, toilet paper, heterosexuality, monotheism and the Old Testament, I cannot stress enough how much you should not play this game.
Game development is clearly a different beast. Games within games featured in Stick of Truth include the Lore of Al Gore, Chinpokomon, Jesus Christ, Mister Hankey, the smelly Christmas Poo, and my old favorite the Penis Mouse. It doesn’t disappoint.
Quality-wise, I do not recommend the PC version, which has a glowing awkward patina and many awkward edits. You’re far better off with Xbox 360 or PS43 versions. What is totally excellent, however, is Character Customization. I played the game in various guises, the best being a Ricardo Montalban-esque space(d) Indio or a Satellite of Love-era Lou Reed (I think!). Accessorize yourself to death while you’re at it. A million wardrobes and hairstyles and—wow!—a multiplicity of chest hair alternatives.
Combat is way cool. The speedier you get with the controls, the easier it is to enhance your leadership expertise. All kinds of attacking and defensive alternatives, with or without weapons. Then there’s your warlock powers, like the ability to turn your “magic” gift of toxic farts against your enemies. Not to give too much away, but you are able to unlock newer, superior farts over the course of the game thanks to a special fart tutorial. No need to ask about, for example, the Hiroshima and Nagasaki farts.
All in all, the combat sections are really engaging. If you’re a South Park fan, you’ll love every minute of it.