South Park: Snow Day review – a content drought erodes its slapstick combat

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With the games industry facing talent drain, ballooning budgets, and execs pining for for live service games, South Park: Snow Day arrives like most of its humor – right on time. One of its bosses is particularly well-timed, referencing a film that came out this month. It’s a smaller hack-and-slash game compared to Obsidian’s excellent Stick of Truth and Ubisoft’s The Fractured but Whole RPGs, one that arrives at a palatable $30. 

Roguelite-inspired card upgrades from South Park co-creator Trey Parker and the jump to 3D make for a fresh rendition of the iconic setting. But while roguelites excel at replayability with a few building blocks, Snow Day’s barebones content drops the curtains right when the going gets good. South Park co-creator Matt Stone felt “a little tapped out” after the last two South Park games and compares Snow Day to a “long episode of South Park” instead of a whole season. While that’s acceptable for a story, it’s harder to justify a four-hour runtime of five missions and no reason to pick it up once it’s done.

South Park Snow Day review: An image of the town of South Park. Image captured by VideoGamer.
An image of the town of South Park in South Park: Snow Day. Image captured by VideoGamer.

In Snow Day, an apocalypse-grade snowstorm bathes South Park’s streets in snow, giving its familiar cast a reason to indulge in some chaotic roleplaying. As the New Kid, it doesn’t take long to meet characters like Eric, Kenny, Kyle, and Stan as you uncover the real threat behind the sudden snowstorm. The jokes feel grounded this time, gunning for a timeless appeal over topical wit. Toilet humor and irreverence to social norms in dialogue and callouts are a treat despite the short campaign. The crew leaps from the classic 2D style to 3D in great shape thanks to the solid visual effects that accompany the powers you can wield. 

Each run in Snow Day functions as you’d expect – pick perks, clear enemies and finish objectives, beat the final boss, and start over. There’s a lot of potential to mix your combat with the right perks but Snow Day’s scant 5 missions don’t do justice to its inventive cards. On Hard difficulty, gameplay feels tight and tense despite it just being kids whaling on each other with tin-foil swords and rubber arrows. Chaos is a constant in Snow Day’s combat and your ears are bombarded with little kids cussing and Cartman calling you out on your poor plays.

South Park Snow Day review: The player dodges fireballs from wizards. Image captured by VideoGamer.
The player dodges fireballs from wizards in South Park: Snow Day. Image captured by VideoGamer.

I could drop a bag of Cheesy Poofs chips on a stick for healing as I unleash my Wand’s flamethrower on adults consumed by Dark Matter before using a fart to dodge their whip attacks. I could also adopt the daggers’ backstab attacks and the Bull Run to storm archer posts before diving blades-first into a shield-bearer’s weak spot. And that’s just two possible strategies with more weapons, perks, and combat powers to pick from. Despite the lack of a class structure, Snow Day reminds me of Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare’s excellent combat built on humor. While the ranged weapons feel great, the sword-cardboard shield combo pales in comparison to the game’s dagger and axe attacks. 

The hastily sketched perk cards and game-changing bullshit powers (their official titles, mind you) lend Snow Park a strong foundation to build on. These perks are split between traditional upgrades that cost toilet paper (lost after a run) and Henrietta’s Tarot cards that tweak these further. Dark Matter can be saved beyond a single run, letting you invest in permanent perks and upgrades. 

South Park Snow Day review: An image of the card-based powers in the game. Image captured by VideoGamer.
An image of the card-based powers in South Park: Snow Day. Image captured by VideoGamer.

Bullshit powers in particular bring to life a kid’s itch to cook up absurdities and shake up the pretend playing field. These extend to your enemies as well, from invisible kids who heal on a sneak attack to freezing auras and farts from defeated kids. This keeps every combat encounter engaging outside the occasional glitch or bug. We tried out the multiplayer and rounds were fairly smooth outside of some delayed animations.

Not every game needs tomes of character dialogue, meaningful choices, and devious twists. It’s okay for a game to sacrifice narrative greatness for replayability and a good time in short co-op stints. Snow Day’s moment-to-moment slapstick humor and inventive combat are undermined by unfulfilling progression and an acute lack of content. 

Matt Stone did mention that some features were “peeled off for DLC” which makes me hopeful for some meaningful additions in the currently vague Season Pass. This barebones package could use more game modes, weapon modifiers, and difficulty boosts. While Snow Day slips on its ice at launch, there’s a good foundation here for South Park fans and casual gamers to sink some hours into. 

Reviewed on PC. Game provided by the publisher.

About the Author

Antony Terence

Antony Terence is a Guides Writer for VideoGamer. While he is particularly fond of city-builders, shooters, and strategy titles, he won’t turn down a good JRPG or a turn-based roguelike.

South Park: Snow Day

  • Release Date: 26 March 2024
  • Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series S/X
  • Genre(s): Action Adventure, Beat 'em Up
5 VideoGamer
Animated characters from "South Park: Snow Day" dressed in fantasy-themed costumes standing in a blue, cave-like setting.

verdict

Snow Day’s moment-to-moment slapstick humor and inventive combat are undermined by unfulfilling progression and an acute lack of content.
5 Card upgrades are easy to understand and shake up each run Satisfying combat and abilities that feel great Classic South Park humor Limited weapon choices Insufficient content at launch that hampers replayability The Hard difficulty isn’t challenging enough