The death of THQ sadly left the future of many games in question. South Park: The Stick of Truth was one of the titles affected, but fortunately for us Ubisoft picked up the slack and The Stick of Truth is set to hit the world at the end of this year. In a closed door demonstration I was treated to what might as well have been an episode of South Park, except that I was watching live gameplay.
You play as ‘the new kid’ which allows you to create your own character rather than being assigned to one of the preexisting South Park characters. In the demo the new kid teamed up with the ‘Grand Wizard’ Cartman and was exploring the halls of a heavily ruined South Park Elementary to find and take down the ‘Elves’ Stan and Kyle in order to retrieve the Stick of Truth. Combat was done in a classic RPG turn based system. The attacks and abilities that the characters had were extremely humorous such as the electric shock attack that consisted of the new kid dumping a bucket of water on his enemy and then putting the leads from a car battery into the water to shock him. There was also a fire extinguisher that was used as a freeze blast at one point.
One of the biggest ‘abilities’ that was shown off during the demo was the many uses of farts both within battles as attacks and outside of battle as puzzle solutions. At one point, the new kid had to throw a handful of his own flatulence at a fire to cause an explosion. While it was funny at first, I was starting to get tired of how overused the new kid’s gas was by the end of the demo. South Park can border on a line of mature, intelligent humor and degradation into childish bathroom jokes. Hopefully this was just something they wanted to showcase heavily at E3 and the final game won’t end up being called South Farts due to its extreme gas.
Flatulence aside, the accurate recreation of the South Park animation style and humor was stunning to watch. In gameplay, The Stick of Truth looks like it could just be a TV episode. The cutout paper, stop motion style was genuinely pleasing to look at and everything was captured perfectly right down to the way that characters walk and how they look when they turn to the side. Fans of South Park will find a lot of continuity and jokes from the show utilized in the game. Even in our brief demo there were so many jokes and references packed in that I hardly had time to register one before three more were put out there.
In true RPG fashion, South Park: The Stick of Truth will allow for full customization of your character with a variety of items and outfits that will alter your abilities and stats. Customization was done through an in-game Facebook interface that acted as the menu system. From here, the new kid could also add friends and get missions from other characters via ‘Facebook messages’. It will be interesting to see more about how this is utilized in the final game and how open world the game really is.
South Park: The Stick of Truth is one of the most faithfully licensed franchise games that I have had the pleasure to see. In close collaboration with the creators of South Park, Obsidian is creating a masterpiece in interactive irreverent comedy. As long as it doesn’t cross the line into an over reliance on immature humor, South Park: The Stick of Truth could be one of the top games we’ll see near the end of this year.