For years, few franchises built on humor, controversy, and satire have proven as successful with the masses as Comedy Central's South Park - a fact made all the more startling by the fact that nearly every video game adaptation of the series has been a disappointment. Creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone (serious gamers themselves) decided that needed to change, and spawned the idea that would soon become South Park: The Stick of Truth.
Bucking expectations and choosing to translate the colorfully "crappy" visuals of the show into an old school, turn-based RPG from Obsidian Entertainment, the finished product has now been released. We've cited the game as one that South Park fans have been hoping for in our review, but we're certainly not alone.
The game's launch trailer has warned potential players of just what kind of over-the-top action and crude content they are in for - and we've walked through the first 30 minutes of the game as well - but if there are any doubts that having Stone and Parker's hands on the writing and design made the difference, see what other outlets are saying.
Game Rant (Andrew Dyce):
"South Park: The Stick of Truth defies the odds simply by doing the brand justice, but also sets a standard that future South Park games (or DLC) can aspire to. It’s not perfect, but it is the game South Park fans have waited for, beyond a doubt.."
Joystiq (S. Prell):
"If you're well-versed in South Park history and can imagine cookies as a "health potion," you're off to a good start. If you can also forgive the repetitive nature of combat and some uninspired quests, it's worth taking up arms for The Stick of Truth's hilarious, disgusting adventure."
Polygon (Justin McElroy):
"Other games treated the world Matt Stone and Trey Parker have crystallized over the past two decades as a prison they have to escape from. The Stick of Truth happily confines itself to that world, and manages to build a comfortable, hilarious home of its own."
"The jabs can be predictable, but they’re delivered with an affectionate wink, and it’s evident that Parker and Stone know and love videogames. So, yes, their irreverent take on the medium may have a few technical shortcomings, but you’ll usually be grinning far too much to care."
Eurogamer (Dan Whitehead):
"A finicky combat system, a lack of challenge and few reasons to remain in South Park once the story is done - these minor disappointments hold The Stick of Truth back from greatness, but they don't detract from the sheer audacious hilarity it delivers. In gameplay terms it may be soon forgotten, but there's unlikely to be a funnier - or filthier - game any time soon."
Gamespot (Kevin VanOrd):
"South Park: The Stick of Truth is not the second coming of role-playing games, so if you come seeking Jesus, you'll be disappointed by the veritable second-rate televangelist you find in His place. But it's as funny as the merry tune of Stratford, and more enjoyable than Butters' favorite game, Hello Kitty: Island Adventure."
Game Informer (Dan Ryckert):
"I can’t think of a better way to bring this franchise to gaming consoles... It’s one of the most faithful adaptations of a license I’ve seen, and it ranks among the best comedic games ever released."
IGN (Ryan McCaffrey):
"With a controller in your hand, you are almost literally — gloriously — playing a 14-hour episode of South Park. There’s much, much more here for series fans than the uninitiated, but it’s a light but good quality role-playing game in its own right. It is, in a way, Season 18 all by itself."
Destructoid (Chris Carter):
"The RPG elements are very serviceable but they're not going to satiate most of the hardcore genre fans out there. It's a good thing then that the rest of the package is filled with so much care from the show's creators, that it makes it something truly special."
Shacknews (Ozzie Mejia):
"Even with its shortcomings, South Park fans owe it to themselves to play through The Stick of Truth's story, as it's paced and structured very much like the show's classic three-part episodes. This is very much a game for fans of the show only."
Kotaku (Jason Schreier):
"I wish I could spend this entire review talking about how South Park: The Stick of Truth is one of the funniest games I've ever played. But Stick of Truth... is a game marred by bugs and technical issues, and it is impossible to separate the art from the faulty product surrounding it."
Should You Play This Game: Not Yet
What do you make of the reviews? Are you thrilled to find that a game has finally adapted the South Park license into an experience fans will love, or does the RPG genre put up obstacles for you personally? Share your own thoughts in the comments, and check out our review if you need further convincing.
South Park: The Stick of Truth is available now for the PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.