I’m not sure I understand why more people aren’t constantly talking about the new South Park video game The Stick of Truth.
It’s fun. It’s hilarious. It’s really, really gross. But most importantly it is a completely interactive piece of adapted fiction that is so authentic in regards to its source material that it is indistinguishable from it. Depending on the thoroughness of your playthrough Stick of Truth can take you anywhere between 9 and 14 hours. It is for all intents and purposes an entire season of the show.
You are in South Park, moving about the locales, chatting with the locals and beating people up, and if it weren’t for the health bar across the top of the screen there’d be no way of knowing your filthy adventure isn’t an episode of the show.
The Stick of Truth is as brilliant as an R-rated parody of Skyrim is likely to get. You’re cast as a new kid in South Park whose appearance you customize. Though, full warning, you have to be a boy. Upon arriving in your new neighborhood you are immediately swept up into a heated LARPing session that informs the game’s RPG game mechanics. Of course, as is South Park’s way, the scale of the game amplifies far beyond a bunch of neighborhood kids hitting each other with sticks and hammers.
The authenticity of Stick of Truth very much extends to its quality. Much like the show Stick of Truth is ripe with sharp satire of the lowest and highest degrees. I suspect if you know anything about South Park you know to steer clear of it if you are easily offended. I would tweak that statement ever so slightly for Stick of Truth. If you are offended ever you probably shouldn’t play Stick of Truth.
But taken in stride and with the necessary veil of satire, Stick of Truth is hilarious. Which is yet another reason more people should be talking about it.
Games aren’t movies. Sure, sure, The Last of Us, Bioshock, Heavy Rain, sure, sure. Games can be cinematic, but, at least so far as major console releases go, they aren’t exactly diverse.
The movie section at Best Buy is divided into genre. The gaming section is divided into consoles.
Most games are action games. Such is the nature of the beast. A lot of the best games out these days are action-dramas, and Heavy Rain arguably sways closer to drama than action, but if you zoom out far enough, so far as genre goes games are all fairly similar.
Did you catch all of those qualifiers? Am I safe from the gaming connoisseurs our there?
Stick of Truth isn’t exactly an exception, but much like Heavy Rain took a step towards the truly dramatic, Stick of Truth takes one towards the truly comedic with fantastic results. The game boasts a slew of interactive jokes that make you the punch line. There are clever riffs on everything from character customization to skipping cut scenes. South Park’s creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker, who were heavily involved in Stick of Truth’s development, have proven that the video game is a medium just waiting to be exploited for comedy. The potential is staggering and will hopefully inspire other developers to follow suit.
Be they Superman or The X-Files licensed games traditionally exist on a scale from blatant cash grab to unmitigated crap. Stick of Truth bucks that trend and in fact embraces it. The South Park license gives Stick of Truth a familiarity and leeway that a fresh intellectual property would not have. Making a comedic game for major release out of a fresh property would be great. But it would also be a pipe dream. Now that Stick of Truth is out, however, maybe that pipe dream has become a little more feasible.