South Park: The Fractured But Whole Review – Ludicrously Fantastic
It has been some time since the funniest part of a South Park game was throwing yellow snowballs at your friends, but here we are, nearly 20 years down the line and the colorful cast of characters still promises to entertain. Building on the precipice that South Park videogames can be both a good quality videogame and a good quality South Park product, South Park: The Fractured But Whole looks to build on the success of its predecessor. Are we all a little too old for fart jokes and potty humor, or do South Park’s timeless characters prove to be heroes after all?
South Park: The Fractured But Whole Review
At the time of this review, I had literally just finished watching the credits roll. Where to begin? Do I start with the police officers snorting cocaine to unleash a devastating AoE move? Do I discuss the fact that cat urine plays an integral part of the story? Should I touch on my battles with the mutated 6th graders with several backsides? Or maybe I should share my experience of being drowned in colostomy bags after a mishap at an old peoples home? I really don’t know.
South Park: The Fractured But Whole is everything the TV series has become famous for. There are no rules, there are no boundaries. It doesn’t matter if you’re straight, bisexual, transgender, cisgender, Buddhist, Christian, or, Atheist; this game goes for the jugular every single time, and I love it for it. One particular moment stands out. When you’re filling out your superhero character card (we’re playing superheroes this time around by the way), you have a meeting with the school counselor, Mr Mackey. At this point he asks you questions that determine your sex and gender. It’s a multiple choice thing. However, whatever you choose, as soon as you leave a group of rednecks in a truck tries to kill you based on your decision. That’s not only hilarious in its own right, but also oddly powerful in the sense that whatever path you choose in life – some drunken redneck will toss a bottle at your head for it.
All the beloved characters are there. Some play vital roles in the games entirely wacky, ridiculous, insanely ludicrous yet utterly fantastic story ark, while others appear for a brief second while you’re taking a dump in someones toilet. That’s a minigame, by the way, that has you dropping a deuce and having a score based on your ability to accumulate gas and shake off the remains without any cling-ons. There are so many moments that invoke that feeling of “only in South Park,” and the game is better for it.
However, we’ve all been there before. Humor is not enough to make a game great; it needs a little something more. At its base, South Park: The Fractured But Whole is a turn-based superhero RPG coupled with the creativity of the younger – and in many cases worryingly deranged minds – South Park crew. Once again you take on the role of New Kid, a mysterious kid that moves into South Park just down the street from the big names. Naturally, he becomes enveloped in the insane world of Coon & Friends and Freedom Pals, as both hero factions battle to create the ultimate hero franchise funded by a $100 reward for finding a lost cat.
The game has a very interesting and thoroughly immersive narrative that follows a story path from several different key characters and events. Chasing down the lost cat is always the primary objective, but the crew soon gets caught up with Italian mafia, a greater conspiracy threatening all of South Park and the question on everyone’s lips – who is the New Kid, and where did he come from? The process of exploring each of these story avenues is rewarding and funny as hell, and it comes together to create a truly polished story-based experience.
Even with a fantastic cast and stellar story, the truly heroic aspect of South Park: The Fractured But Whole is the gameplay. Borrowing turn-based combat mechanics from yesteryear and combining them with intuitive combo attacks and hugely varied character customization and progression – it makes the first battle just as fun as the last. As the New Kid, you originally start with a single set of powers, and gradually increase the powers available to you as you progress through the game. There are 10 classes you can choose from, each with three abilities and an ultimate ability. With an arsenal of four abilities at a time, you can mix and match between any of the different classes depending on your personal preference and playstyle. Furthermore, a DNA and Artifact system allow you to equip items to increase stats that are beneficial to a particular class. At any single point in the game, you can change a few abilities and a few items and play through an entirely different experience.
That huge level of ability customization is matched by the variety of costumes and allies you can obtain. Costume pieces can be changed in a traditional RPG sense (headwear, suit, gloves, etc.), but there are literally thousands of potential customization options. And as well all know, every good superhero needs a supporting cast. There are more than 12 allies that you can add to your party, each based loosely on the overall class design of the combat, but with their own unique twist and ultimate abilities – and of course are infused with the insanity that is South Park.
For the completionists among us, there’s plenty to do outside the main story. A few side quests litter the town, collectible item,s and quite a few puzzles. While the puzzles are challenging enough to give a feeling of achievement and accomplishment upon completion, never once did they incur any frustration. This is surprising for me, as I can get lost in a hallway with only two doors.
South Park: The Fractured But Whole is ridiculous in every sense of the word, and is totally outrageous from start to finish. I laughed my backside off (all seven of them), I cringed, I winced, I gasped, I gagged. I had an ear-to-ear grin on my face for the entirety of my 30 hours of playtime, and I conquered every little thing the game had to offer. South Park: The Fractured But Whole has everything fans would hope for, and is a well crafted turn-based RPG to boot. Put simply, this is the funniest game I have ever played, period.