We’ve known for a while that Stick of Truth’s general premise revolves around the kids of the sleepy Colorado burg banding together for a city-wide LARP session, with the goal of being the one who holds the titular twig. As a fully-customizable new kid in town, you’re tasked with recovering the stolen stick and ultimately restoring peace to South Park. The story, written by series creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker, unfolds with the same vulgar grace as the TV show. The sharp dialogue combined with a pitch-perfect recreation of the show’s cardboard cutout animation style makes playing the game and watching an episode analogous experiences
This most recent demo picked up during a particularly violent conflict at the kids’ elementary school. I saw two different playthroughs of this section, which allowed me to witness how Stick of Truth eschews from the static and linear nature of many early RPGs. The kids’ suite of skills allows you to overcome an obstacle in a variety of ways. When faced with an impassable pile of flaming debris, the game forked during my two viewings. One time we got around the rubble by shrinking down using the power of the Underpants Gnomes and making our way through the school’s ventilation system. But during a second playthrough, we used some well-placed flatulence to power a fan located above the burning wreckage, which doused the flames and allowed us to climb over.
South Park: The Stick of Truth seems to exist in a perfect spot smack dab in the middle of the television series and an RPG. I can’t stress enough how much the writing and presentation work in unison towards making the game feel like a genuine episode of the show, while the battle and exploration mechanics firmly cement the experience as trip through RPGs of the ‘90s. Though the game’s development seems to have gone through some rough patches, it’s comforting to know that those trials have led to something that seems well-worth the wait.