For almost 20 years (which is about as long as the show has been on for), we’ve been treated to some pretty gnarly South Park video games. To name a few, there was the unplayable first-person shooter, South Park, the crappy mini-game bonanza, South Park: Chef’s Luv Shack, and the sad excuse for a kart-style racer, South Park Rally.
But then 2014 came along and we got South Park: The Stick of Truth, the most fun and faithful TV show-to-video game adaptation ever conceived. Heavily influenced by showrunners Trey Parker and Matt Stone, it was like living inside an extended South Park episode. The Stick of Truth was more than anyone could’ve hoped for—a legitimately solid role-playing game that looked and sounded identical to the show (easier said than done, as we’ve seen with past games) while retaining all of its provocative humour and throwing in countless nods to the show’s past.
Three years and a lot of fiddling later (the game was originally slated for December 2016), South Park: The Fractured but Whole has arrived, and fans of the show and previous game are going to love the crap out of it. Those unamused by Parker and Stone’s distinct brand of humour should go play Final Fantasy or something. This is a game exclusively for South Park lovers—and it’s a great one at that. While The Fractured but Whole may not reach zombie Nazi fetus-levels of vulgarity—as seen in The Stick of Truth—it’s got buttloads of shock value, which we won’t spoil here. Just know that your character’s chief superpower is farting through the fabric of time and every toilet you come across offers a complex pooing challenge.
Like The Stick of Truth, The Fractured but Whole puts you in the role of the new kid, as created by you in the character creation screen. Your gender, race, and religion are a blank slate at first, and, no joke, the game’s non-combat difficulty setting is directly related to the skin tone you select for your character.
The story picks up during the final moments of the last game, with your newly-minted new kid being thrust into a fantasy-themed royal rumble that quickly transitions into a superhero-themed quest to find a missing cat and collect $100 so Cartman can give his Coon alter ego its rightful Marvel Cinematic Universe treatment. Naturally, things escalate and myriad iconic South Park characters and moments are brought into the mix. Yes, even Crab People.
Also like the previous game, The Fractured but Whole (heheh “butthole”—I just got that) does a swell job of blending the real(ish) world with the kids’ eccentric imaginations. The first instance happens when your character has to fight a fire-breathing dragon that’s actually a crude cardboard cutout. As the game progresses, the shift between the semi-coherent real world and the make-believe kids’ world becomes increasingly clever.
While not much has changed in terms of overall gameplay, a welcome new grid-like tactical combat layout is relatively dynamic and challenging. Challenge-wise, The Stick of Truth was a fairly gentle game, and I’d say things are a little tougher this time, especially in the game’s latter half. There’s a lot more activity going on at once, where well-timed button-pressing, smart side character-selecting (of which there are 12 to choose from), and thoughtful special attacks become essential as you make your way through the 20-odd-hour main quest. All this to say you’ll want to start thinking a few moves ahead, lest you get your fourth-grade ass handed to you.
Also new are epic ultimate powers that trigger hilarious cut-scenes showing off their insanely intricate design. The best of the bunch is Cartman’s, which sees him daydreaming of being interviewed on Inside the Actors Studio. It’s trippy as hell and makes you want to sample every character to see what they’ve got in store.
South Park: The Fractured but Whole is out now on PS4, Xbox One, and Windows. Hold onto your butts and check out the official launch trailer below.
Also catch new episodes of South Park right here on Much Wednesdays at 10e 7p. Last week’s ep even ties directly into this game. Sweet, dude! See it below.