Over spring break, I got the chance to play the recent “South Park” game “The Fractured But Whole,” the sequel to the 2014 game “The Stick of Truth” based off the television show. Going into the game, I wanted to see if it was an improvement over its predecessor, and I was gladly proven right.
The game’s story takes place after the events of “The Stick of Truth” where the kids in “South Park,” instead of playing wizards versus elves, are playing superheroes. While off to start their own franchise, the crew of “Coon and Friends” separate to form the group “Freedom Pals”; each wants to start a franchise and make a lot of money doing so. You play as the “New Kid” again, and get to customize your own hero and take part in a story that unfolds on a bizarre and larger scale.
The story has a hilarious premise, and it only gets better from there. “South Park” has been known to push boundaries by making fun of current events and pop culture. “Fractured But Whole” does that and has more references to modern “South Park,” unlike “Stick of Truth” which referenced older seasons. This doesn’t mean that just new fans will enjoy the game; old fans will easily find a great amount of humor to be had here.
However, if you were never a fan of the type of humor used in “South Park,” this game won’t convince you otherwise. There are jokes in the game that are very ‘outrageous’ to say the least, but that – ironically – in a way is praise for a “South Park” game.
Even then, RPG fans will still find a lot to like about “Fractured But Whole” in its gameplay.
While you are not fighting enemies like in other video games, you get to explore the town of “South Park.” There are side quests with iconic characters from the show, secrets to find in the world like Yaoi fanart of Tweek and Craig and Member Berries, puzzles to solve with items to find, and the option to take selfies with each citizen of “South Park.”
Selfies are a gameplay mechanic; as you gain new followers, you become more respected in town, and your franchise gains a bigger following. Exploring the town you also might encounter sixth graders, Raisins Girls – a parody of Hooters Girls, ninjas, crab people and hillbillies you can battle with.
This is where the major improvements over “Stick of Truth” come into play.
Instead of adopting a JRPG Turn Based System akin to “Paper Mario,” “Fractured But Whole” adopts a Tactics style system for enemy encounters. This means positioning, movement and knowing your party matters in “But Whole.”
The characters are placed on a grid where each turn they can move and select four abilities that can either attack, heal party members, grant beneficial effects or inflict status effects. It brings back the timed button presses from “Stick of Truth” that can make the attacks or benefits even stronger by hitting the buttons at the right time.
The new kids’ farting abilities were also expanded on in combat. Instead of just another way of using magic like in the last game, you can interrupt turns if a devastating blow is about to hit a party member, and more options will be available as you progress through the game.
That’s not the only thing they improved with customizing the New Kid, though.
“Fractured But Whole” brings more improvements to customizing the New Kid to make your very own “South Park” character.
Instead of locking yourself to one out of four classes in “Stick of Truth,” players can mix four abilities from 10 classes of super heroes, allowing for more freedom while making a character in your own play style. You can now choose your gender, race, weakness and even religion.
Each of these changes will have other characters in the world react in different ways. Instead of locking clothes behind strength of armor, the new artifacts system separates leveling up from clothing, allowing the player to customize what they wear with no limitations. The skin tone option during character customization was actually labeled as a difficulty setting – this doesn’t effect the actual difficulty of the game, but it’s a hilarious joke nonetheless.
I did two playthroughs of the game, the first of which on the normal difficulty. I had to start a second file since I encountered a game-breaking bug that left that save file unable to continue the game. This left me annoyed, but the second time through I played on hard, where I finished the game. I barely noticed a difference in difficultly, as I was mostly breezing through the game like I was on normal. This is fine for a game like this, but I was expecting more of a challenge, especially when there is an achievement called “The Token Experience” which is completed by playing the game on hard as a black character.
Either way, I recommend “Fractured But Whole” to “South Park” fans and RPG fans in general. However, if you are new to this game, I still recommend starting from “Stick of Truth” as I feel both should be played first. It’s not just to understand the story but because it’s still a funny game nonetheless and you would be missing out on some great content.
If you were never a fan of “South Park” and don’t like the humor of the show, you’ll most likely have to look elsewhere for another game to play.