The development cycle of South Park: The Stick of Truth was turbulent until its release. Co-creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker stated in an interview that a sequel would be made depending on its success, and fortunately enough for them, the hard work put into translating the humor of their show into a video game paid off and a follow-up sequel was greenlit by Ubisoft.
Originally, the game’s title was supposed to be called “South Park: Butthole of Time” but retailers didn’t want to associate themselves with the word butthole. in response, the co-creators came up with the ingenious loophole title, which is a better representation of the show’s comedic brilliance.
Our story begins with our returning silent protagonist, sitting on the toilet, trying to find the “sweet spot” of his “release,” per se. You are quickly thrown in the midst of a civil war taking place on the streets which acts as a tutorial.
Soon afterward, Cartman shows up to announce that the fantasy theme that was employed for the first game is now lame and that superheroes are the new trend.
The Fractured But Whole plays as an overall parody of a lot of superhero movies released in the last few years, especially Captain America: Civil War and Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice.
The game does a great job of underlying how recycled most all the plotlines of these movies are. in that regards, I highly recommend watching the South Park episode named “Franchise Prequel” (S21 Ep 1).
Much like the first one, The Fractured But Whole may as well be an official episode of the actual show. It is hysterical and includes all of the favorite characters from the show without feeling forced. The RPG format lends itself well to the narrative, allowing you to interact with most of the characters as they fit into the context of the plot.
Cartman, Randy, Butters and so many others still have their jokes and don’t feel rehashed or overbearing. They interact and comment on the narrative thematically. In one scene, for example, Scott Malkinson, Captain Diabetes in the game, uses his diabetic powers by drinking sugary apple juice to power himself up to move a heavy object before he quickly injects himself with insulin.
Combat is turn-based and takes place on a grid that induces some strategy to the mix. This is a great addition from the previous game as it spices up the variety of combat to include pushing back enemies to either align them for an upcoming attack or for chaining attacks the likes of knocking back a foe onto an ally or object for added combo damage. It is a bit simplistic once you are familiarized with it, but it is a lot more action-packed than its predecessor.
You will assemble a team of four heroes, including yourself, each possessing three base attacks and an ultimate power. Depending on the class, these attacks include targeting a single enemy, usually for high damage, blasting a laser that covers a wider area across the battlefield, or inflicting status effects like bleeding and burning that slowly hurt enemies with damage over time. But offensive skills are not the only actions you have. Some classes will also allow you to heal or buff your teammates. You have free reign to swap abilities at will between all your unlocked classes, so no need to regret your choices.
Asides from their base attacks or spells, enemies utilize “Telegraphed” attacks that cover a large area and take one full turn to charge and execute. They can can be very punishing so it’s best to avoid them by moving your heroes away on their turns.
Try different team members in your roster, not only to discover what works best for you, but also to experience their side gags during battle. When The Coon is on your team, for example, he will take credit for everything happening. If Super Craig is fighting against Tweek, they will engage in a banter of salty insults.
Traditionally, gaining stats in an RPG is done upon leveling up. In this game, artifacts are unlocked as you progress that you can equip to improve your combat power.
Visually, if someone were to walk into the room while you were playing the game and didn’t notice the controller, they would think that this is just another episode of the show. The layout of the town is simple, but while the game has fast travel points, they are often placed in peculiar places that almost never land you next to a mission objective. Thankfully, the town is not big and the world feels dynamic enough to explore.
You will come across areas or chests that are out of your reach, and that will require the unlocking of certain powers to advance. The solutions are clever, but having to constantly backtrack to previously visited areas and with no indicator of where these areas/chests are, the process will get monotonous. Just make sure you unlock all your skills before you actively hunt them down.
No game is without its faults and I found myself at the receiving end of a couple of bugs where the auto-save icon persisted, locking me from manually saving my game. At one point, this resulted in me losing around seven hours of progression. Often times also the game would freeze for a minute or two during a battle, and at times, I was forced to completely close the application.
But possibly my biggest gripe with this game, much like with the first one, was that even the highest combat difficulty rarely posed a challenge. It would have been a nice feature to give hardened players an option to enjoy the IP and be challenged at the same time.
South Park: The Fractured But Whole though hasn’t seen any major updates from its predecessor, is still fun. As the saying goes: don’t fix what isn’t broken. Ultimately this is everything I wanted from a sequel: a bit like Stick of Truth, but more.
South Park: The Fractured But Whole is available on PS4 [reviewed], Xbox One, PC. A review code was made available to us via Ubisoft