South Park: The Stick of Truth is a turn based RPG published by Ubisoft and developed by Obsidian Entertainment. This game has faced much adversity in its development, from its dangerous near-cancellation after the THQ meltdown in which its rights were sold to Ubisoft, as well as the fact that it's a licensed game which are almost always cheap shovelware designed to make some quick money by sub-par studios.
South Park: The Stick of Truth's story revolves around a new kid in town which the player controls. As you leave your new home to find some friends you come across some of the boys of South Park and are caught in an epic LARP between Cartman's humans and Kyle's drow elves. This setting allows for many creative situations such as a pretend battle being blown out to epic proportions, turning out to be more than it initially seems. Also, as expected, if you are easily offended by Swearing, Sex or all the other gross out humour you probably will be incredibly offended by this game, as all of South Park's crude humour is on complete display. This allows them present you with a complete 14 hour episode of South Park which features all the humour and great social satire that Matt and Trey are known for.
In its presentation is where South Park: The Stick of Truth shines, with its perfect recreation of the show's paper cut-out art style, this works with every aspect of the game's world from its creative combat animations such as Butters' transformation into his super villain alter ego Professor Chaos or Kyle's kick the baby ability. To its open world of the town of South Park which has been completely mapped out by Matt Stone & Trey Parker for the first time in the show's 17 year existence. The world is tightly packed with all the sight gags and references to the 17 seasons of South Park and every character has their original voices with even Matt Stone & Trey Parker providing the voices for the majority of the characters, making this feel like an interactive complete season of the show come early. The enemies faced over the course of the game are full of great dialogue, sight gags and amazing designs and all of the characters make great use of the license featuring characters such a Crab People or The Underpants Gnomes.
The Stick of Truth's gameplay is a classic turn based RPG in the vein as games such as Mario & Luigi, a turn-based combat system with real-time elements. You are taught all of the required information after you meet up with Cartman and you have to choose your class most of which are based on classic fantasy archetypes. The classes are warrior, mage, thief and the game's most unique class, the Jew. But here comes a problem with the gameplay, from the get-go, all of the classes are extremely similar, all classes can use every weapon and armour set which prevents me attempting multiple playthroughs in order to play the other classes as there's no point.
However, the gameplay in general turns out to be incredibly easy on the default difficulty level, so in order to get the most out of the game I would recommend playing on the hardest difficulty from the get-go. The game does, however, prevent you from tuning out during the combat sections as you do actually have to vary your attacks in order to avoid your enemies' parries and reflects by switching between melee and ranged attacks accordingly. There are also a number of status effects which can be applied to you or your enemies, they consist of bleed, gross, electricity and fire which does add some variety to the combat sections which helps avoid the tedium which can sometimes set in in more simple turned based RPG's.
You can improve your character in various ways. When your level up you gain points to be able to increase the power of your classes' abilities (the current level cap is currently 15). You also gain a variety of hilarious gear and weapons throughout the game which adds different status effects and bonuses. Your character also receives upgrades when your characters gains friends through the in-game Facebook system which allows you to gain "perks" which are upgrades to your character in fairly major ways, e.g. 20% extra melee damage.
Throughout the game you also get access to party members called buddies, such as Butters or Kenny who will accompany you throughout the world and in combat, and this is a part of the game which seems a little half-baked. This is because you are only allowed one buddy at any one time which seems very limited especially when one buddy is designed especially to support allied characters which does not make very much sense when there is only one ally. This could possibly be because of the stripping down of some of the game's features after THQ's breakdown. Overall the gameplay is surprisingly fun and offers some hidden depth even though the classes may be incredibly similar.
Replayability is the weakest part of The Stick of Truth, which seems like it was most likely caused by some of the stripping down of some of the features when it was handed over to Ubisoft.
There is, however, some minor replayability features such as the ability to collect all of the 30 chinpokemon some of which you can miss throughout the course of the story if your not vigilant. Also for anyone who is a fan of south park there are a lot of easter eggs from the show which can be seen in many locations around the town (Always check every bedroom closet, for some great references). However besides that there is not much else.
This is because all quests will most likely be completed in the game's 14 hour run-time, and all of the choices which the character can make throughout the game have nearly no effect on the plot and would not justify a second play through. Because all of the classes are so similar you probably won't get much fun out of going through the game again in order to try out all the various classes.
Overall, South Park: The Stick of Truth is finally the game which South Park fans have always wanted. This is also bolstered by the fact that the gameplay features a surprising amount of depth in its simple combat mechanics, this leads The Stick of Truth to seem like another 14-hour interactive season of South Park, and it just feels so right. Obsidian have managed to add another great RPG to their catalogue and I am glad to be surprised by this game.