The new “South Park” game is one of the smartest dumb things I’ve ever experienced. The amount of work put into something so intensely asinine is impressive: It’s essentially a playable “South Park” movie.
More than just looking exactly like the show, “South Park: The Fractured But Whole” is jammed full of the show’s characters, rife with in-jokes, and set in the town of South Park, Colorado.
The game’s script clocks in at 360 pages — the size of two feature films, according to “South Park” creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and roughly double the length of the last game.
As a bonus, it’s actually a pretty fun game to play! I’m about 15 to 20 hours in at this point, and I’m looking forward to playing the rest.
WARNING: Spoilers ahead for “South Park: The Fractured But Whole,” including story and gameplay.
It probably goes without saying, but I’m going to speak explicitly about “South Park: The Fractured But Whole” — this is a review, after all. If you don’t want anything spoiled, turn back!
Some caveats up front: If you don’t like “South Park,” you won’t like this game. If you don’t like role-playing games, you also may not like this game!
I like “South Park,” the show, well enough. I saw the movie in theaters a million years ago. I played the first game (for work, but I enjoyed it!).
If none of this applies to you, or you outright dislike “South Park,” I doubt very much that you’ll suddenly turn around on the franchise after playing “The Fractured But Whole.” It’s essentially a very long episode of “South Park,” the show, with a lot of interactivity. You explore the town of South Park, talk to people, collect stuff, and fight enemies. There’s a lot of room to explore as you wish, as well as a main progression path to stay on if you’d prefer something a bit more straightforward.
And all that stuff is good! But it’s the “South Park” writing and voice acting and storytelling that makes “The Fractured But Whole” something unique.
In that same vein, “The Fractured But Whole” is an old-school RPG with modern graphics. Combat is turn-based, meaning that combat is literally on a turn-by-turn basis — it’s a tactical system instead of a real-time system.
If this all sounds like gibberish to you, you probably don’t want to play “South Park: The Fractured But Whole.” That said: “The Fractured But Whole” is a very easy introduction to the world of RPGs. If you’re looking for an access point to role-playing games, this is it.
“South Park: The Fractured But Whole” is a direct sequel to 2014’s “South Park: The Stick of Truth.”
Like the previous “South Park” game, you’re once again playing as “The New Kid” in town. What that means in practice is you can create a character that easily fits into the show’s universe — a conceit that “The Fractured But Whole” acknowledges head on, just like every other video game standard it embraces.
I made this guy right here:
You may notice that the game’s difficulty slider is directly tied to your character’s skin color. This is only true insofar as the game’s story is concerned; combat difficulty is set separately. As Eric Cartman puts it: “Don’t worry, this doesn’t affect combat. Just every other aspect of your whole life.”
Playing as “The New Kid,” Cartman and the other usual suspects from “South Park” welcomed me into their new live action role-playing game. This time, instead of a fantasy world, the game is about superheroes — it’s a send-up of the Marvel “Civil War” plotline, thus the “Fractured But Whole” name. Also because it sounds like “fractured butthole,” of course.