Let’s face it, games based on TV series or films tend to be pretty garbage. With a few exceptions (here’s looking at you, Arkham) the announcement of a new game which promises to follow a well loved series tends to be met by some fear, but with Stick of Truth there was always something that help a lot of promise. Maybe it was the fact that the show’s writers were also writing the story for the game. Maybe it was down to how accurate the visuals looked, or the fact that every single trailer they released was filled to the brim was awesomeness. Either way it filled a controversial spot in our article outlining reasons why the current gen still has games to offer, and after much waiting, a change of hands after the THQ collapse and some nervous moments in the build-up to release it’s brilliant to report the findings: Stick of Truth is brilliant.
As a TV show South Park is very much an acquired taste. It’s most definitely an adult cartoon for reasons too numerous to mention here, and yet a lot of people think the language and obsession with ass-based jokes is immature and not worthy of a slot in the listings. Personally I love it, which undoubtedly helped fuel my excitement over getting into the game and seeing what the quiet little mountain town had to offer. If you don’t like South Park, you won’t like Stick of Truth. There’s no point messing about with that – you might as well just go elsewhere on the site. I’ll help you: click here for a random article.
If, however, you’re more open to the humour that South Park uses then you’re in for a treat. Taking the role of a new kid in the town (who you can design from a series of typically South Park click and pick elements), the game opens with a sequence involving your character and his parents who discuss whether you remember why you’ve had to move towns. There’s clearly something not quite right with the kid – your character barely utters a word throughout the whole game for example – but it doesn’t seem to hinder his ability to befriend others in the town. Before long you meet up with the Grand Wizard (Cartman) who leads you through to Koopa Keep (Cartman’s Garden) and tells you about the Stick of Truth, an item so powerful it lets you control the universe. After a brief battle, the stick is stolen and so begins your epic quest to get it back.
Or that’s how it initially seems. Later on events take a turn for the peculiar, and when aliens show up and take you onto their ship it doesn’t take a genius to figure out what happens next, and your backside is the one to suffer. Fans of South Park will be well aware of the alien anal probing theme in some episodes, and that’s exactly where this ends up heading, although you won’t see any of the more explicit events unfolding unless you pick up the American version thanks to Ubisoft’s last minute and well documented censoring idea. From this point on the story turns to one of government coverups, unlikely allegiances and Al Gore spamming Facebook (it makes sense when you play it for yourself). There are a few surprising twists throughout the story, whether it’s the movements of the Stick of Truth, the nearly-crossing-the-line-but-not-quite effect that the weird alien goo has on the town’s population or the requirement to take a trip into Canada to help solve some mission. There’s definitely more than enough to keep you interested throughout the game, something quite surprising considering it’s basically a very long episode of the TV show.
The combat works well too, using a turn-based approach to pit you and your friends up against various numbers of opponents. With enemies able to use shields, armour and various blocking methods it’s vital to not only mix up your attacks but also have a good range of attacking and magical options available. In case you’re wondering how kids can do magic, it’s all in the fart. Obviously. Each class on offer at the start of the game has its own special attacks, and these are all upgradable as you make more friends on the in-game Facebook which serves as the hub for all your questing and inventory needs. There are some pretty memorable fights through the game, probably none more so than a shrunken version of you fighting some underpant gnomes while your parents blatantly enjoy a loud and very visible sex session in the background, with the fight’s ending being the kind of thing you will never see in a video game again. Ever. I’d put money on that.
As an RPG, Stick of Truth doesn’t pitch itself as serious as many “proper” games in the same genre, but the huge number of quests and side missions are surprising, more so when it becomes clear that they’re not getting boring. One minute you’ll be dressing up as a girl to try and persuade the girls to play with you, and the next you’re walking round a sewer fighting rats and trying to track down Mr Hankey’s tiny poo-kids. The addition of a broken anal probe and magic gnome powder also help the latter stages of the game, as combining the two (along with your range of fart-magic) will be key to not only progressing, but also finding some of the town’s hidden or difficult to access treasures and characters. It’s very well paced and cleverly done, but it is, as you can blatantly tell by now, extremely typically South Park.
To me, that’s no bad thing. I’ve laughed more at this game than any other that I’ve played. Not because of the grotesque nature of some parts of the game, not about the endless farting, but because of the fantastic writing and genuinely hilarious conversations had by the kids and adults in the game. It’s not a game for kids, and it’s not even a game for many older gamers either, but for those with a love of South Park, or indeed anyone who has seen it and enjoyed the unique style and humour offered up by Trey Parker and Matt Stone then The Stick of Truth is a no brainer.
Reviewed on PS3