South Park: The Stick Of Truth is one of those games that seems too good to be true. If you're familiar with the brand of humor that Matt and Trey have perfected, you realize just how hard it was to distill that combination of topical and off-color humor into a title that will appeal mechanically to a broad audience. I'll be upfront about it, if you aren't a fan of the show - a massive amount of the story will be meaningless to you. Every payoff in the plot is intrinsically tied the players' knowledge of the South Park universe. That being said, if the antics of this quiet little mountain town continue to amuse you, prepare for one of the most comically rewarding turn-based RPGs that you've ever laid your hands on.
Your journey in South Park is prefaced with the tale of an epic battle between factions of humans and the elves. They fight constantly and without fear, all in an effort to hold the illustrious "Stick of Truth". The stick is especially important, because those who hold it, gain control over the entire universe. Your character, the new kid, has just moved to South Park after unknown events force you to leave your previous town. As you leave you house, you're met by Butters who leads you to the encampment of humans (conveniently located in the backyard of the Cartman abode).
At the beginning of your journey, you choose between four classes (Fighter, Mage, Thief, and Jew) that have different skills and attributes that make them valuable in battle. As you progress through the content, you level up and unlock new skills and attributes by becoming Facebook friends with the iconic characters you meet. Some of the higher-level characters will also offer their once-a-day services in battle, providing that you are not currently facing a boss. My personal favorite was Jesus toting an M16. These characters are extremely efficient and often demolish any and all enemies still left in combat. Also aiding you in combat, are your weapons and items which are largely customizable. There are both ranged and melee options for weapons, and augments to these weapons add fire, shock, bleed, and gross-out damage that your opponent may very well be weak against. Bleed and gross-out damages are especially potent as they continue to damage the enemy until their effect eventually wears off. During combat you are also aided by the boys of South Park. Jimmy was very influential in helping me to win battles using his ability to serenade the opponents, causing them to fall asleep and lose their next turn.
The combat mechanics are fairly simple, and allow users that are foreign to turn-based RPGs to stay competent in battle. Each turn you can use one potion, and one attack or magic command. Potions can cure status debuffs, heal damage, replenish magic points, and revive knocked out characters. Attacks vary from ranged and melee damage, to dishing out full force punishment with special abilities like the raging bull - which greatly reduces the armor value of the enemy that you are attacking. If you have a companion with you, you get to choose their attack after your turn has finished - in addition to the ability to use their potions to heal or revive yourself. None of the encounters are especially challenging, so you won't necessarily be banging your head against the wall. However, some high level enemies can take awhile to kill, and dish out a lot of damage, so you'll want to stay stocked up on potions before you enter an area that you're not familiar with.
South Park: The Stick of Truth is around a twelve hour experience, with the addition of optional side quests that give the world extra depth - and though I had a decent amount of fun with this game, I cannot justify the sixty dollar price tag that it currently holds. Sure, you'll have a lot of laughs with the one-liners and series references, but there's almost zero replayability to the game. Yeah, you could go through the story with different classes and make different choices, though the hilarity of the references hold far less impact on the second playthrough. With a game that relies on shock value and comedy to maintain a valuable experience, the second playthrough felt mainly like a stale re-run of an episode. Don't let my opinion dissuade you from playing the game though, just keep an eye out for a used copy or a Steam sale before you pick it up. South Park - The Stick of Truth is available on PC, Xbox 360, and PS3.