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Review RPG Codex Review: South Park: The Stick of Truth

Discussion in 'RPG News & Content' started by Crooked Bee, May 7, 2014.

  1. Crooked Bee wide-wandering bee Patron

    Crooked Bee
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    Tags: Obsidian Entertainment; South Park: The Stick of Truth; Ubisoft

    It's been around two months since the release of the Obsidian-developed and Ubisoft-published RPG South Park: The Stick of Truth. It reviewed well and, we assume, sold well, too. Now that the initial hype storm has passed, Zed and I sat down to discuss what the game did right and what it did wrong. Our impressions are mixed -- in a sort of positive way, but mixed. For details check out the full review, but meanwhile here's our conclusion:

    Zed: It took me 12 hours to beat the Stick of Truth on hardcore difficulty. I completed almost every quest I came across and my character reached the maximum level of 15. After beating the game as a Fighter, I tried replaying as a Mage for half an hour, before realizing the game stayed essentially the same – same QTE-centric gameplay, same jokes. As you mentioned earlier, throughout the story there’s only one real instance of a choice, with only a short-lived consequence. But while it doesn’t have a lot of reactivity nor much replay value, The Stick of Truth is a funny game. Not as funny as the TV show, but it feels like a genuine South Park experience. I would have liked to see more satire and witty humor, and the game doesn’t really introduce any new characters either. The absurdity and in-jokes seem a bit overdone compared to most other South Park creations.

    Crooked Bee: Well, like I said, I personally enjoyed the overdone absurdity. The mechanics though, not so much. Quests, combat, exploration, it’s all very easy to get into – mostly thanks to the writing – but ultimately also very repetitive. That's why it’s a good thing the game is only 12 hours long; but also a bad thing, because I believe the full price is too high for that. (Thank you, Ubisoft, for a review copy.)

    Zed: Yeah, while being a subjectively funny game, it’s not very good in terms of mechanics and systems. The social media stuff seems half-forgotten in the later segments of the game and there are rarely any reasons for you to re-visit locations. It’s like a long South Park episode coupled with the gameplay and interactivity of a Newgrounds flash game.

    Crooked Bee: Wow, that’s harsh! (Says someone who did nothing but complain about the mechanics for the entire review.) But sure, if we are to judge it as an RPG – this is the RPG Codex, after all! – and not just an interactive South Park episode, it’s definitely lacking, a mixed bag made up of addictive and monotonous in equal measure. Some aspects (writing, atmosphere, loot, animations) are brilliant; the RPG core, however, the combat, quest structure, and character development, are very simplistic. The lack of any kind of non-linearity or improvements to the tired Paper Mario formula is a big downer, too. The flip side of this being an interactive TV show episode, I guess…

    Zed: It is what it is, and as that good ol’ Codex saying goes, it’s “good for what it is.” I highly recommend this game to fans of South Park (especially fans of the more juvenile stuff) and fart enthusiasts (like Germans). I can’t really recommend it to grimdark serious-face CRPG players looking for something deep and rewarding. They will find none of that here.

    Crooked Bee: Yeah, it’s an ultra-casual RPG lite, albeit a very solid one at that. Despite my nitpicking, however, this is also the best, and most skilfully written, comedic RPG I’ve played. If you can disregard that this is supposed to be an Obsidian game, you’re bound to enjoy it. It is a shame, however, that I can’t help but associate the excellent content with Matt and Trey, and the underwhelming gameplay and design with Obsidian. It may, of course, have been South Park Studios or the evil publisher Ubisoft who demanded that Obsidian should make the actual RPG side as unimaginative as possible, but given Obsidian’s best titles, I refuse to accept any blame for wanting the game to have been something more. Mr. Chris Avellone once mentioned he’d like to design a High School RPG some day; if this were it, I would be highly disappointed.

    Zed: It’s a bit funny how Obsidian are often profiled as the CRPG developer, when they haven’t exactly got a lot of releases under their belt to show for it. Imagine us in a year or two, reviewing Armored Warfare and going “Tanks?! Real-time?! Where are mah choices?! We expected more from you – Chris Avellone!”​

    Read the full article: RPG Codex Review: South Park: The Stick of Truth
     
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  2. Humanity has risen! Arcane Patron Repressed Homosexual

    Humanity has risen!
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    I can't begin to understand how someone like Crooked Bee who is acquainted with many JRPGs with deep and original gameplay mechanics, was fooled into thinking this would be a good game, when it was obvious to anyone this was a dumbed down Paper Mario clone with all the depth of a Flash game that somehow matters because Oobzidiaaan!
     
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  3. Darth Roxor Prestigious Gentleman Wielder of the Huegpenis

    Darth Roxor
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    Gaem sounds like shit, wot a surprise! :M
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2014
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  4. Broseph Fabulous Hoosier Patron

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    Good write-up, good game. :thumbsup:
     
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  5. Konjad High on potatoes Patron

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    Tbh, the product would have been better if they cut out all gameplay and just made it a movie. It's a good South Park, but it's not a good game.
     
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  6. markec Twitterbot Patron

    markec
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    I expected shallow RPG but funny game, yet still I managed to be disappointed. Too much shallow boring combat and too little funny dialog, also I hoped for far more interactions with the world, the city is tiny both in size and content.
     
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  7. thesheeep Arcane

    thesheeep
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    Actually, I think it is a great game. If you like South Park. I found it to be like playing through a dozen episodes. Great episodes. Well, actually I found the game to be much funnier than the average SP episode.

    The game mechanics are dull as hell. It would have been better if they had not bothered at all to make it look like it had any depth. Nobody expected that. Now you get the initial feedback that any of your (character and gear) choices matter, but are disappointed that nothing matters at all in the combat.
    All that matter is hitting the QTEs on each attack in combat. Everything else is cosmetical/LARPing.

    But if someone playsa South Park game for deep mechanics and a challenge, he deserves no better than to be disappointed.
     
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  8. Crooked Bee wide-wandering bee Patron

    Crooked Bee
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    You're right - I honestly didn't expect it to be dumbed down even compared to Paper Mario. That's somewhat of a new low. I didn't expect it to be particularly deep, but yeah, I expected Obsidian to do a "casual JRPG" right and maybe even improve on the formula. They did neither.

    However, I did enjoy the game. It's very well-written, and like Zed said, "good for what it is". My criticism has more to do with this being a missed opportunity for Obsidian to do a good JRPG.

    Second, I am an Obsidian fangirl. I'm not even trying to hide it in the review.

    On a related note, one discovery I made thanks to this game, is that while Obsidian can into good WRPG design (at least narrative/quest/exploration-wise), they absolutely cannot into good JRPG design -- or even into understanding what makes a good JRPG exploration/quest structure. I did expect them to know their way around JRPGs better or research and implement it better -- they are supposed to be professional RPG designers, after all.

    This game makes me considerably less excited for MCA's possible High School RPG. :P
     
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  9. markec Twitterbot Patron

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    I think no sane person (from Codex atleast) expected deep and complex gameplay, but the problem is not only that its really easy and shallow but also that fights become a chore really quickly and vast majority of the game is combat.
     
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  10. Night Goat The Immovable Autism Patron No Fun Allowed

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    "Not as funny as the TV show" doesn't mean anything, because the funniness of the show has varied so much over the years. Is it not as funny as seasons 1-6, when the series was at its peak? Or is it not as funny as the more recent seasons, where genuine humor is mostly replaced by tedious references to whatever is currently in the news?
     
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  11. Kem0sabe Arcane

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    Took me a while to realize it, but once the novelty wore off, this was an extremely shallow RPG... To the point where I found it impossible to continue playing.
     
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  12. Contrite Andhaira

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    I cannot believe you bothered to beg Ubisoft for free review copys, or did not reject it if it was granted to you. It was beyond obvious the game would be shit. It would have helped immensly had the combat system been deep, but sadly it was derp like the rest of the game.

    Obsidian would be far better off doing more kickstarters for original content. Yes they already did PE but the team working on South Shit should have worked on another Kickstarter
     
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  13. Duraframe300 Arcane

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    And SP is the wrong game to judge that on, for various reasons in development. The most obvious being that Matt and Trey had oversight, I wouldn't be surprised if they had no say in how complex they wanted it to be. Also game mechanics (like factions and an additional class) got cut.

    I strongly disagree though on game mechanics. They are shallow, but they are plenty. The problem is THE GAME IS TOO EASY. You never have to actually utilize the different damage types or anything really. Funny enough if you actually check the encounters many are set-up to actually utilize them. But they are so inconsequential that it doesn't matter.

    Add to all that, that the game had several system designers working it. Way more than you'd expect for how simple the game was. Meaning lots of revisions, lots of *re-working*. (Not surprising)

    So, while I agree that the gameplay was shallow and way too easy, making a statement like *Obsidian cannot into Jrpgs* based on this game is like saying *Obsidian cannot into Hybrids and Original IP's* based on Alpha Protocol. South was never and will never be their *jrpg effort*. First effort was always to please Matt and Trey and make THE SP rpg. Not a jrpg.
    That was never a stated goal either, btw. That was something people attributed to it after seeing the combat and viewpoint.

    Tl-DR: No, its not proof of anything.
     
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  14. Duraframe300 Arcane

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    Also South Park was fun and it did have Obsidians most interesting Level Design. Granted, thats not an accomplishment.
     
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  15. Duraframe300 Arcane

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    Wut? I can't remember a rpg where I was less in combat.
     
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  16. Duraframe300 Arcane

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    From what we know a shitload of things actually got cut. Would be nice to someday see a post-mortem on the game.
     
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  17. Crooked Bee wide-wandering bee Patron

    Crooked Bee
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    Duraframe300 I think all your points were already addressed in the actual review, but I can repeat them again.

    Like I said in the review, I agree that the fundamentals for a potentially fun combat are kinda there. However, the RPG systems themselves (perks etc.) are boring crap. And that isn't Matt and Trey's fault.

    Also "plenty" doesn't mean much when implementation sucks. Pool of Radiance: Ruins of Myth Drannor also has "plenty" of solid mechanics, but look at the result.

    Leaving aside the question of their intentions -- like I said in the review, I'm talking structure/side quests/exploration here. Not being able to introduce one single good JRPG-style side quest or mechanic speaks of "cannot into JRPGs" to me. I also don't buy the "the game isn't supposed to be a JRPG" argument. It is structured like a JRPG, and Obs designed the mechanics, side quests, structure, etc., therefore it is their JRPG effort.

    Any examples of this "interesting level design"? I can see New Vegas having some, but The Stick of Truth? Even the town of South Park itself was one big missed opportunity.
     
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  18. Duraframe300 Arcane

    Duraframe300
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    I have no trouble with you believing that.

    However then Obsidian may also be legitimatly judged by Alpha Protocol and even NWN2. Theres a reason SP turned out that way. And no it isn't because they got to do *their* jrpg.

    New Vegas has open design. I didn't actually think of that comparison. I meant to compare it to Obsidians more corridory affairs. And SP actually used the environment, hid treasures nicely and was overall not boring. More than I can say of K2, Alpha Protocol and DS3. Also parts of the NWN 2 series.

    (I'm also not really sure how you could draw any conclusion about Chris High-School game from this game. His only involvment was production wise on cutscenes. Such a game would have him in the Lead and that of course would make it again completly different design goal wise. His own comparison is Rockstars Bully which isn't really all that like SP)

    For your daily random C2B info: Brian Heins was a Senior Mission Designer on Bully and also worked on South Park. He's now the Project Lead on an unannounced Project at Obs)
     
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  19. Zed Codex Staff Patron

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    The game is not as funny as the TV show is or has been at any point.
     
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  20. Night Goat The Immovable Autism Patron No Fun Allowed

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    That's pretty bad then, because South Park has been unwatchable for almost a decade.
     
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  21. Broseph Fabulous Hoosier Patron

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    Not really. Although yeah, seasons 5 and 6 were probably the best. The game's funnier if you haven't watched the show since most of it is just rehashed and repurposed references from old episodes.
     
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  22. Duraframe300 Arcane

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    Some of the stuff from the game they actually used in the last 2-3 seasons of the show. Like Princess Kenny.
     
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  23. Zed Codex Staff Patron

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    You wouldn't like the game, then.
     
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  24. Duraframe300 Arcane

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    Or I'm just deluding myself(About the jrpg thing). Might also be possible.
     
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  25. Jestai Savant Patron

    Jestai
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    Some points not addressed:
    - Too fucking long combats animations. Last level spells of followers (and Timmy altogether) are borderline unplayable because of it. I don't want to watch the same 20 seconds clip (with or without a QTE) every time I cast a spell. 20 real seconds. Same clip every time. HELLO?
    - Fart jokes are too important. I understand this is South Park and all, I can accept some things, but farts overstay their welcome in my opinion and shouldn't have been an important part of combat. Maybe I shouldn't be bitching: they made the game so easy you can breathe through it without using magic once. Or anything else than "regular attack" for that matter. I guess they thought about everything after all!
     
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