South Park Video Game Review: Game or Comedy

As the South Park video game RPG sequel hits the Switch, Ubisoft attempts to improve the game’s mechanics. But misses the mark on capturing the original’s charm.

Developed over two years by Ubisoft San Francisco, The Fractured But Whole lacks the weekly pulse that allows the show to deftly parody current events. Despite some fun moments, the game falls consistently flat. It’s failing to replicate the wit and spark of the long-running animated series.

South Park Video Game – Gameplay

While Stick of Truth spent five years in gestation, it has that delightful gaming experience. Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s observational gags about gaming found a natural home in Stick of Truth, and the RPG design merged seamlessly with the show’s humor.

But The Fractured But Whole falls short because it retells the same ‘gaming be like’ jokes as its predecessor and its current affairs-based humor feel dated.

South Park Video Game

However, the combat system is commendable, featuring multi-class character builds and a focus on positioning party members effectively. Coon and Friends, the new superhero theme, replaces Archmage’s Wands and Axes of Stopping, featuring superhero abilities from Toolshed, Mosquito, Captain Diabetes, and The Amazing Butthole.

New South Park Video Game – Graphics & Cartman

In this world of innate superpowers, upgrading equipment takes a backseat to outfit customization, which serves a purely aesthetic purpose. Don’t expect to unlock these outfit items via loot boxes, though.

You’ll need to scour the world map for collectible detritus and navigate various puzzles to earn them.

But fear not, your superpower of producing methane during digestion is here to help you manipulate time, navigate through obstacles, and inflict a gross status effect on your foes.

While outfit customization doesn’t affect gameplay, your character’s stats and abilities can still be modified through DNA strands and Artifacts. These upgrades unlock new slots every time you level up, offering bonuses to critical hit chances and health recovery.

South Park Video Game

But be ready for some trial and error when selecting a new class.

You’ll need to blindly choose abilities without prior examination. Despite this, the RPG progression system remains enjoyable and uncomplicated.

Although the game may feel routine at times, with tasks like running errands for Cartman or sneaking out for the night’s big boss fight, it still offers a mix of mundane and extraordinary gameplay opportunities.

The Persona series thrives on a similar daily routine structure, and The Fractured But Whole captures that same perverse thrill. However, the writing could use some improvement, as the pacing suffers from a lack of memorable capers and underwhelming sketches. Nevertheless, with its left-field game-changing moments and greatly enjoyable battles, The Fractured But Whole still manages to satisfy.

Let’s Talk Game Design

At its finest, The Fractured But Whole wields tried-and-true game design elements with satirical flair.

The game’s standout feature is a skin color-based difficulty slider that satirizes contemporary issues. Black player characters receive less money, and certain in-game characters shift their attitudes toward you.

South Park Video Game

However, the game can also hit rock bottom with cringe-worthy moments like listening to kids discuss playing Star Trek: Bridge Crew and Star Trek VR with no sense of irony. It’s akin to attending an insightful TED talk only to be approached afterward by someone pushing a fidget spinner.

South Park Humor

Instagram, the social media platform through which South Park’s youngsters assess their social status and barter it like currency, is a hilarious parody of The Stick of Truth’s quasi-Facebook network.

Cartman’s attempts at building a franchise empire deliver some of the most consistent comedic moments.

However, the repetition of discussions on gender and sexuality with school counselor Mr. Mackey builds anticipation for a punchline that never lands. The result? Some awkward moments, confusion over bathroom choices, and a possible brawl with unsympathetic rednecks.

Even if the humor falls somewhat in the middle, South Park still offers enough chuckles to keep you entertained.

South Park Video Game Review – Verdict

South Park: The Fractured But Whole is an RPG that has its charms, but it lacks the bite and imagination that the franchise name suggests. Walking around the familiar town and rubbing shoulders with its iconic residents is a pleasure for those who grew up watching the show. However, the experience feels somewhat less impactful the second time around.

Despite Ubisoft San Francisco’s efforts to revamp the combat system, the game still gives off a sense of deja vu. It almost feels like a sequel made purely to capitalize on the success of its predecessor, rather than being driven by a fresh new vision from the creators.

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