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The Stick of Truth should be every South Park fan’s dream: arriving in town as generic new kid, players quickly find a self-aware RPG with a distinct Elder Scrolls/Game of Thrones vibe. As is tradition, events escalate and sinister forces descend upon the quiet mountain town, leaving more than just the titular stick at stake.
At a glance it’s visually indistinguishable from the show, the lack of HUD a shrewd choice. Though a juddering frame-skip issue frequently rears its head when screens scroll (on 360 at least), cutscene transitions are seamless, and the whole affair feels authentic, with regards to audio/visuals at least. South Park’s greatest strength is riffing on the zeitgeist – each episode has a mere six-day production cycle – and the game loses something without topical references. It’s dense with fan-serving detail – a trip to Canada is a particular treat – but sadly that’s not enough.
Though keen to poke fun at RPG tropes, ultimately its subversion is superficial, with a wealth of uninspiring fetch quests, unchallenging minigames and turn-based combat that has a tendency to drag. It’s a shame, because so much attention has been lavished on animating your buddies’ special moves – a personal favourite being Jimmy’s ‘Brown Note’, which sees him blowing a bowel-loosening tone from a pipeline-sized Alpine horn, causing foes to soil themselves – but sitting through the same sequences time after time saps amusement.
As expected, it’s crammed with lewd material, worshipping at the altar of fart gags, though at times feels like a middling clip show of classic episodes – jokes rehashed, old content remixed, sound snippets familiar and repetitive. Don’t expect an RPG of great length, depth or replayability, either – after 14 hours, mopping up the last side quests and collectables, I’d seen everything on offer.
TSoT is the best, most faithful South Park game to date, but it’s still just an okay game. That said it might also be your only chance to fart on a flaming, used tampon and hurl it at Nazi zombie fetuses, unless they make another Postal.
Version Tested: Xbox 360. Played for 14 hours.