South Park: The Fractured but Whole
Trey Parker, Matt Stone
…a clever, funny, involving RPG dripping with personality and lashings of bent humour.
South Park: The Fractured But Whole is the follow-up to 2014’s The Stick of Truth, although you don’t need to have played that game to enjoy the new one. Fractured But Whole tells the tale of you – the new kid – who has moved to the quiet redneck mountain town of South Park. A wave of crime is sweeping through the titular town and it’s up to you and Cartman’s superhero group, Coon and Friends – to save and the day, and more specifically, a fearsomely ugly cat, Scrambles. There’s a hundred dollar reward in it, you guys. A hundred bucks!
Whereas The Stick of Truth skewered fantasy movie and game tropes, The Fractured But Whole has the superhero genre dead in its sights and there are some really funny observations. An ongoing gag about making a shitload of money through Netflix, prequel movies and tie-in TV series’ is consistently solid. Of course the game features a lot of callbacks, references and in-jokes for fans of the TV show so expect to see Raisins girls, City Ninjas, sixth graders and crab people…. Crab people. Look like crab, fight like people.
What’s most surprising about TFBW is the depth of the RPG elements. You’ll level up your character with multiple classes, equip relics and better gear and engage in some unexpectedly nuanced combat played in a turn based style. On the other hand you’ll also unlock the ability to solve puzzles with your arse – using an array of farts including the ability to stop time and shoot a hapless gerbil from your rectum. This mixture of solid game mechanics and toilet humour may cause tonal whiplash in some players, but if you’re in the mood for a 20 hour episode of South Park you’re in for a treat.
Storywise the game goes from normal to nuts in the first 15 or so hours, peaking with a sequence that somehow manages to mash up racist cops, Black Lives Matter, H.P. Lovecraft and one of his beasties. This is actually the peak of the game, a total celebration of the profane and arcane. Unfortunately the game keeps going afterwards, and the final 3-5 hours are a bit of a grind, with some fights dragging on way too long. It’s a pity that such an initially charming game ends on such a sour note, but the time that precedes it really is a lot of fun.
Ultimately South Park: The Fractured But Whole is a clever, funny, involving RPG dripping with personality and lashings of bent humour. It stumbles in its final act but the journey there is so delightfully dubious you’ll likely forgive its shortcomings.