South Park: The Fractured But Whole is quite possibly one of the funniest games I’ve played. A sequel to South Park: The Stick of Truth, The Fractured But Whole does a lot in its 15 hours of base play time without relying on locations and gags from the previous game all while adding in some clever returns, insane twists, and some very clever references to past episodes of the show that’s made it a staple on television for 20 years. The gameplay does a spot on job at being more fleshed out than it’s predecessor all while making sure not to overwhelm the player with too many options and abilities to keep track of. The game begins a short time after the events in The Stick of Truth in which you take control of the new kid, the newly crown king of Kupa Keep. After a short lived walk down memory lane in the kingdom, the gang decides to switch to superheroes, leaving you to be nothing but the new kid again. It is your job again to climb up from the bottom to be the greatest superhero. It was bittersweet to throw away everything about the previous game but the memory remains and you can always visit Cartman’s backyard for a reminder of the legendary battles that were. Just like Stick of Truth, the team does a fantastic job at making sure the game looks exactly like you’re watching an episode of the show, the writing is no exception either. The writing is reminiscent of the past few South Park seasons in which the show is more story driven rather than one offs with all it’s surprises and over the top gags, although that does not mean there aren’t a few one off adventures in this game. One of my favorite side quests in particular had to do with Tweek and Craig having to go to couples counseling while you had to accompany them. This game is a fan service to long stay fans who have been around since the beginning although it may be a bit too inclusive at times to a point where some jokes may fly over a few casual player’s heads. There are quite a few sidequests in this game and a lot of collectible quests as well. Instead of Chimpokomon to collect, you are actively looking for Tweek and Craig Yaoi to sell to Craig’s dad. There are also missions to find cats, spread pictures around town, or delivery missions. The variety did not overwhelm me to the point where I neglected them to complete the main story, instead I wanted to complete every single mission to see the cutscenes, dialogue, and any sort of twist that would happen in epic South Park style.
The gameplay was a welcome update from the previous game. Much like the simplistic nature of Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle meets the quick time attacks of Paper Mario, there’s now a strategic element to the gameplay in which you have to study things like level hazards or enemy movements as well as switching between artifacts that land you battle bonuses and different move sets. I decided to start out with the Brutalist class and had a lot of fun with close up combat but over time more classes were available and that sense of progression felt organic. With the brilliant writing guiding you through all of the gameplay, this game seems to have done the impossible, it made tutorials tolerable. By the end of the game I went from feeling like a rookie to being completely invested in the idea that I was a full on unstoppable superhero. The boss battles are a treat when you find yourself against one. Usually as a twist, a lot of the boss battles have a unique pattern or tactic that will keep you light on your toes during the battle. For example, Jared takes up an entire row of space that you must avoid or else he will lure you in with candy and continue to bombard you with very powerful “attacks”. South Park: The Fractured But Whole brings another story from Trey Parker and Matt Stone to life with an addicting to play world full of collectibles, enjoyable missions, solid rpg mechanics, lovable characters, and a lot of cursing. Aside from a few spots that had me scratching my head I often found myself unable to put down my controller after hours of playing simply because I was enjoying this game so much and I am eagerly looking forward to the dlc expansions. It is the superhero game we deserve.