It took most of my on-again, off-again holiday vacation but I finally found a game that grabbed me and helped me get over my Dragon Age depression. I’d heard over and over again that South Park: The Stick of Truth was a good game and back around Thanksgiving Sony had put it on sale for $10 or so and I’d grabbed it for the collection.
I’m really new to South Park. For years I refused to watch it because I thought it starred talking feces and was nothing but dick and fart jokes. When I finally gave it a chance it turned out I liked it when I wasn’t hating it. There IS talking feces and a lot of dick and fart jokes that I don’t really appreciate, but there’s a lot of other stuff that makes me laugh, too.
And I’m finding the same holds true of the Stick Of Truth. The overall theme is that a bunch of kids who live in South Park are playing a giant LARP. So yes, I’m a rogue but I’m also ‘the new kid’ since I just moved into the neighborhood. And if I spend too much time exploring and poking around instead of following quests my companions will say something like “Can we get back to the game now?” In combat if you take too long an opponent will say “Wait, is it my turn?” or the less friendly “What the fuck is taking so long?” or even a simple “I could be home watching TV.”
This constant breaking of the 4th wall (well, sort of) amuses me for reasons I can’t explain.
But what I’m really enjoying are the RPG mechanics. You might think, as I did, that the Stick of Truth is a quickie way to cash-in on the popularity of South Park and that the actual game would be quite shallow, but it’s not. Take combat, for instance.
Combat is turn-based, with some timed button-mashing thrown in. So you take your turn and then to max out your attack you have to press buttons at the right time. For melee attacks you can do a light multi-attack or a single powerful attack. Enemies have a variety of stances and defenses they can use. In Riposte defense any melee attack launched against them is reflected back on you, so you’ll need to use a magic or ranged attack. In Reflect, the opposite is true. Ranged attacks will bounce back at the attacker and you’ll need to use Melee. Then they can have Shields, which absorb 100% of X attacks, meaning you’ll want to use light attacks to break the Shields quickly. Or they can have Armor which absorbs X points of every attack. Against an armored opponent you want to use Power attacks since the Armor will absorb all the damage a light attack inflicts.
And so on; that’s one small aspect that I’m using as an example. There are also special movies that use Power Points, and magic that uses mana. Gear is both customizable (via stickers and ‘strap-ons’) and amusing. Right now I think my character is wearing Druid Robes and a Tin-Foil Hat. There’s also a bunch of ‘flare’ that you can use to continually change what your character looks like, which for some reason also amuses me.
But then there’s the gross stuff. For instance Mana has a pretty interesting mechanic in that a character can only ‘hold’ so much mana. This means if you’re low on mana and want to quaff a potion you can, but you want to make sure you don’t drink too big a potion or you’ll wind up with too much mana, which results in a debuff. In fact some enemies will actually inflict mana on you to try to force this debuff.
It’s an interesting mechanic, BUT then there’s the fact that the whole magic system is based on farting. And your “mana” is gas. And if you get too much of it, you shit your pants…that’s the debuff I mentioned. Which is really gross and to me, not funny.
So that’s my issue. It’s got some neat game mechanics, but some seriously disgusting aesthetics. Though at other times I find the aesthetics really amusing. I got to one point yesterday where I almost put the game aside becaused it really crossed a line (sodomy) for me, but in the end I pushed on and things got funny again. And this is exactly how I feel about South Park the show. Sometimes I turn it on and am just horrified by it, and other times I find it hysterical.
If, unlike me, you don’t mind (or even enjoy) jokes about flatulence, incontinence and sodomy, give The Stick of Truth a try. It’s a really solid RPG..at least the first 6 or so hours are (that’s as far as I’ve played it). And even if you do mind these things, if you’re willing to just clench your jaw and push past the gross bits, I’d still recommend it. I’m really surprised by how much I’m loving this game, when I’m not hating it.