I never suspected that playing through a South Park game would make me nostalgic for my younger years. Whether it was playing Cops n’ Robbers, Batman n’ Robin, or Han Solo n’ Chewbacca, creating storylines on the spot with friends provided for some awesome childhood memories. The newest South Park game brought back those fond memories (minus the insane amount of curse words this game has). Having the chance to play make-believe-superhero with Cartman, Kenny, Kyle, Stan and the rest of the gang is a hoot and an experience that I’d recommend to any South Park fan. If you’re someone who is routinely turned off by the show, well… this game will still do that.
South Park: The Fractured But Whole (yes, you read that correctly) is a turn-based role-playing game where you, the player, explore every nook and cranny of South Park while completing missions and objectives. Hidden throughout the town are collectables, items for crafting and food for sustaining health when fighting enemies. Battles are done on a grid-based system, making each move all the more crucial and strategic.
As a gamer who doesn’t often enjoy turn-based battles as a combat style, this game lands on the lighter side with the amount that it forces you to participate in, which I appreciated. In addition, each match-up keeps you entertained with its outrageous one-liners and insane ability to push the envelope in a way that only South Park is capable of getting away with. Dialogue often comes from characters poking fun at decisions you made when filling out your character’s traits. Whether it’s sexuality, race, or religion, there’s hardly a line that won’t shock you or cover any base you couldn’t think of.
As the gamer, you take on the role of “the new kid” and join the group’s superhero union. Like any scenario where you’re the new kid, it’s not glamorous, but you quickly prove your worth. Increasing your rank means unlocking new costumes and this was by far my favorite feature in the game. The game allows you to mix and match, and each costume combination I made was more cute and charming than the last. It’s a trait that caught me off guard because the rest of the game’s visual aesthetic is often disgusting and vile (in a funny way).
What’s unique about the game is that it never feels too “game-y.” If anyone were to walk by the television while you’re playing, it’s a spitting image of an episode of South Park. The transition from gameplay to cut-scene is virtually unnoticeable and the frequency of the two feels equal. Throughout there are hundreds, if not thousands, of references to the show’s most memorable moments, and even deeper cuts for the hardcore fans.
South Park: The Fractured But Whole, like the show, is unapologetic. As a video game, it doesn’t add anything new to separate it from other role-playing games, but nothing about it ever feels repetitive or boring. As an extension of the show, it feels as close to the actual thing as one can get when adapting a licensed property into a video game. You’ll be laughing throughout at the crazy situations the game puts your character into, and the absurdities only increase until its conclusion.