I am a fan of South Park, and as a fan I have greatly enjoyed both of the recent games and looked forward to more content for them as a way to experience the franchise until the next season starts. However, Bring the Crunch, just like the previous DLC From Dusk Till Casa Bonita, felt like it had some crucial pieces missing.
Released in October last year, South Park: The Fractured But Whole is a turn-based tactical role-playing game similar to XCOM, Disgaea and Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle. Bring the Crunch is possibly the game’s final DLC, and it centers on a parody of slasher horror films. The game takes place in Lake Tardicaca, a camp for handicapped children where the counselors are being killed off by men in monster costumes. It is up to you and your friends to stop them.
Like the previous DLC, Bring the Crunch does not let you choose your party members and forces your party to consist of you and three other characters. Two of them return from the base game (Butters and Jimmy), and the third is a returning character from the series who has not
appeared since 2010: Mintberry Crunch, aka Bradley Biggle. Considering the name of the DLC, it is clear that it is his return that is supposed to be the main selling point.
Each character has three basic abilities and an ultimate ability. You are able to customize your own character’s abilities and look, but not those of the other characters. This is fine for the most part as it forces the player to learn how to properly use the other characters while creating the protagonist that best fits their playstyle. The problem is that not all of the characters have useful abilities. I found that I ended up using the same two or so abilities over and over again because the rest were just not as helpful.
Mintberry Crunch’s abilities are even more pointless because they lack the variety that other characters’ have. His abilities bring a new mechanic to the game that focuses on “minting” allies and “berrying” enemies. When a “berryed” enemy attacks a minted ally the ally will not take any damage. While the mechanic is very useful in battle, the problem is this is the only thing he does. All of his abilities inflict this status which meant that I only used the one I liked the most and his ultimate all the time.
The game’s battle system is still one of its highlights. While it is much simpler and easier than other games in its genre, it still requires players to constantly strategize and plan ahead. You need to think about the placement of your characters, about when and how to use certain abilities, about how your enemies will react and so on
. The game is a good introduction to the tactical RPG genre, though it is understandable if some will not like it if they are searching for a much more complex experience.
The DLC introduces a new class: The Final Girl. The game also annoyingly makes sure to repeatedly tell you what the “final girl” trope is in case you were not aware of it (if you aren’t, it refers to the last female character alive in a slasher horror film, who also confronts the killer). The abilities the class introduces are quite fun and add interesting tactics to the battle system that were not present in some of the other classes. These include an ability to place down three stationary saws on the battlefield, and then try to manipulate the enemies to step on them in order to deal massive amounts of damage. The game even designs the battles in the DLC to suit the class. For example, many of the fights make it beneficial for you to knock your enemies into danger zones or out of safety zones, and one of the abilities you get makes this very easy to do.
With only three bosses, the DLC is quite short and can be completed in under four hours. There are a few sidequests such as ghost hunting and dynamite fishing, but they do not add much. As for the bosses themselves, one of them is just a reused boss from the base game and the second is a simple fight against two bosses. In the latter, there is a nice gimmick you use to have one of them damage the other.
The final boss is praiseworthy for being genuinely challenging. During its second phase, it will even mess with you by not allowing you to see who’s next, blocking abilities and resetting your ultimate meter (once it’s full you can use a single character’s ultimate). Considering how easy most of the base game is, even on the hardest difficulty, it was a welcome surprise.
The game should also be praised for how well it captures the show’s art style. Taking a 2-D animated show and translating it into a somewhat 3D game is a difficult task and it was handled perfectly by the team at Ubisoft San Francisco. My experience with it was quite smooth with no noticeable dips in framerate or glitches.
What was not captured well is the show’s tone and humor. South Park is a show known for its dark and immature jokes, and while the DLC did have these, they felt very shallow. Most of the jokes relied on very simple shock humor. For example, how Jimmy cares more about having camp than about the lives of the counselors. This also extends to how the DLC parodies slasher horror films. Beyond having enemies dressed as monsters, a Scooby Doo reference and a creepy gas attendant, it does not actually try to make fun of it. For a much better example of a work parodying the same genre, you can look at 2012’s film The Cabin in the Woods.
To conclude, Bring the Crunch is a short, simple DLC that adds interesting elements to the game’s mechanics but features a weak story. My biggest pet peeve with it is that Mintberry Crunch feels out of place with its story. The creators might have been aware of this because the final boss has nothing to do with the murders in the camp and is only after Mintberry. If you are a fan of the show you may appreciate the references the game offers. If you are not a fan of the show and did not really enjoy the original game, I am afraid to say that there is not much here to change your mind.