Some Thoughts On: "South Park: The Stick of Truth".

Note: though I'm still writing "The Armor of God" like crazy, this blog is still about pop culture and not just a platform for the book. Don't freak if you see posts that aren't TAoG related.

Hey folks. I decided to start a new thing on this blog, because I haven't started enough things that don't go anywhere. It'll be a series of sorts called "Stray Observations". What it is, basically, is that every time I finish some piece of long-form media like a book or a videogame (sometimes I suppose movies too), I'm gonna write a post in which I make a list of some of the random observations I had through the experience. It'll be like reviews without them actually being reviews because apparently I'm too lazy to just review shit.

It's also because I'd rather stick to really topical stuff for reviews; in here I can just randomly talk about random shit.

I finished "South Park: The Stick of Truth" a few days ago, so here's this.

Stray Observations
"South Park: The Stick of Truth"
  • Holy shit, a "South Park" videogame that doesn't look like shit? I remember playing through the shitty 3D one in PS1 when "South Park" was still a bit of an experimental product.
  • I always thought that Trey and Matt are huge nerds, and this super old-school RPG pretty much proves that they are. The basic gameplay elements prove that they played RPGs during the 80's (because it's that old school), and how they make fun of new games, and straight up reference them ("Skyrim") prove that they still do.
  • I was extremely surprised to see that the game was a straight-up episode of the series, only interactive. I was a bit excited to see them satirize videogame and RPG conventions, but they very rarely did. It was disappointing, because the few times they did make fun of videogames (like they did in the spaceship scenario with the pointless audio logs á la "Dead Space"), it was a fucking riot.
  • Hell, the whole goddamn game was hilarious. Most of the time it was the kind of "I can't believe they just did that" kind of hilarity, rather than actual humor, but it was still very funny.
  • Also I'm surprised at how they managed to top themselves so many times. After each offensive twist or joke, I would go "No way they can't get worse" and then it did. By the time I was going through quick time events to dodge a giant pair of dangling testicles, I was close to dying.
  • Hitler sound bites. Fucking killer.
  • The whole thing seems like a love song to the show and its fans (I'm guessing Matt and Trey assume we're all gamers?). The amount of callbacks and references to the show is insane, and a lot of them are extremely subtle. My favorite was the bass guitar in Token's attic.
  • And speaking of not all "South Park" fans being gamers, one of my greatest complaint was that the game was too easy. I'm not being all "my epeen is hewg, guise"; I generally have some level of trouble with RPGs, but this one was a breeze. Was this a conscious choice to make the game more accessible, or just poor planning? It could be either.
  • I was a Warrior because that's always how I roll. A weapon that has "Slow", enchanted with "Burn". Immediate unstoppable powerhouse.
  • I played it on the 360 because for some reason that disc was cheaper. There were a fuckton of graphical glitches during the cutscenes when my character wouldn't load. The framerate also dropped to the floor every time I went to the public storage.
  • It took me too long to realize that Butters is probably the most useful Buddy. His Professor Chaos transformation can completely break the game.
  • The "Facebook" element of the game was inspired, but I wish it was used more. You basically collect friends with people you meet, and they comment on your wall. This is genuinely clever, but I wish you could see the other characters interacting more. It was a pleasure to read.
  • That is, until Al Gore started ruining everything.
  • Al Gore. Man, fuck Al Gore in this game. He's the only moderately tough battle there is, if you choose to fight him. And you have to if you want him to stop spamming your Facebook feed. This is the kind of thing where you think "I wonder how far they're gonna take this "Al Gore spams" joke" and let me tell you: very far.
  • This reminded me: I cannot believe how "South Park" can repeat jokes a million times and they still work. I just completely lose it when Al Gore goes "I'm super serial".
  • When I saw the map of South Park starting the game, I noticed it included Canada, so I immediately inferred that Canada would be a location later in the game. I never in my entire goddamn life could have guessed just how hilarious the Canada segment would be. I don't want to spoil but by far the best part of this game is Canada.
  • The main quest is easy and very short (about eight hours long, which is a joke for an RPG). There are side quests, but they are even bigger jokes.
  • My main problem with the side quests was that in a world so small, they solve themselves. Hell, they even start themselves! I started playing hide & seek with the kindergartners and just continuing the main quest, stumbled upon all of them. The same thing happened with the "Homeless" side quests.
  • A bigger problem is that almost none of the side quests gives you any kind of useful reward. A bunch of them result in you getting a "Summon", but these summons can't be used in boss fights and the regular fights are too goddamn easy. I never, not once, used summons. I don't even know what they look like or what they do (and I collected all of them, I think).
  • The main story is very clever but needed some tightening. It begins as a backyard game with a bunch of fourth graders, which is brilliant), but then becomes too unfocused. As expected, it gets real o'clock pretty fast, but then another plot thread has shit hitting the fan, then another. So many completely arbitrary and separate things happen, the game never focuses on any. To use an example, halfway through there is a big twist regarding the kids' game, and a new villain rises. Cut to hours of something completely different before we return to this new villain.
  • As it's expected, there is a moment early in the game when you have to choose whether to side with Kyle and the elves or stay with Cartman and the humans. I thought this would be a hard choice (Kyle is my favorite character, but fuck elves), but soon after it was made, it became 100% irrelevant. The choices are pointless.
  • A lot about this game just feels lazy. And even being so short, I hated how they kept padding it with really, really pointless side-quests. At one point you need to detour the main quest to go get your picture taken. Cue a random 'offensive' scenario, then back to the story. Unbelievably unnecessary.
  • The most amazing thing is how addictive it is. The thing is so loopy and so funny and so unpredictable, coupled with how it never really puts many significant obstacles in your way, and it's really hard to stop playing. I must've beat it in three sittings.
  • Despite all the problems I had with it, when the game was over, I was happy because it's the first game I've really enjoyed in a while; I don't think I had finished anything since last year. Damn.
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About The Damn Beast

Pre-op trans-minotaur, sci-fi/fantasy/horror author, metal singer, videogame journalist, pop culture blogger. I also lift heavy things and put them down again repeatedly to occupy more space.
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