Firstly I would just like to say I am a lapsed South Park fan. I haven’t watched the show in many years although I did really like it. My last experience of South Park was the last game, The Stick Of Truth, and even then it had been several years after I had watched the TV show. I mention this because apparently some of the jokes and themes in this game have been in the TV show or maybe just expanded on by the game. So my experience may differ from yours if you are a current avid South Park fan.
South Park: The Fractured But Whole is a great game I enjoyed very much. As a lapsed fan of the show, I loved the nostalgia of it like I did in The Stick Of Truth. I was laughing all the way through and for me the writing is excellent and I could tell that’s why it has taken so long for this game to come out. The crappy animation style still marries perfectly with the edgy, controversial, offensive and satirical nature of the comedy, with very topical and relatable themes explored within the game and poked fun at with tongue firmly in cheek.
I enjoyed The Stick Of Truth also but the superhero setting of The Fractured But Whole resonates with me more because I like Superheroes more, although I do enjoy fantasy RPG settings as well. But changing into different costumes which you can collect throughout the game was a lot of fun. Customising the look of my hero and choosing his powers, which is class based and later on you can have multiple class abilities. They fall under tried and tested RPG tropes ranges abilities, melee, support abilities like healing or applying buffs to yourself and team-mates. There are also items you can use called artefacts that give permanent buffs to your abilities and stats.
Gameplay is very much like the last game you explore a 2.5D South Park with lots of collectable loot to find around the world, some which require some light puzzle solving and some are inaccessible until you unlock the right ability in a sort of Metroidvania style and the puzzles also reminded me of something from the Lego games to give you an idea of how they work. Combat is turn-based like the last game where the room is broken down into a grid of squares where you can only move a certain amount of squares at a time and choose an attack/support ability with X, Y or B and confirm with A. Pressing each button allows you to see its area of effect to plan your next move. It’s very simple and easy to understand, which I appreciate as someone not looking for complex combat mechanics but if you’re an avid turn-based RPG fan you may find them too simplified compared to other games in the genre. There are also ultimate attacks you can use once you’ve filled up a bar and there’s a chance to press A when an enemy attacks you to lessen the amount of health you lose which fills your ultimate faster too.
The game is very relaxed allowing you to play at your own pace and I appreciated that about it. Taking my time, exploring and collecting everything. There are also some mini-games throughout for doing different things like the toilets which have a mini-game to answer the call of nature with varying difficulties.
All of the missions whether main story or side missions are worth doing because they’re all very funny and with new abilities and mechanics introduced throughout keeps the gameplay fresh. However, while it’s not an easy game as such, it’s not a very complicated one and I never really felt especially challenged by anything. I appreciated that about it because it wasn’t really what I was looking for here. What it is, is a fun relaxing ode to South Park with enough gameplay to keep it entertaining throughout with a great superhero setting, great humour that kept me laughing and a lot of light-hearted social commentary.
If you like South Park and enjoyed The Stick Of Truth you should enjoy this game. It is like a really great season of the show wrapped up in a video game like Stick Of Truth was only for me I enjoyed the superhero setting considerably more although that’s entirely dependant on your own tastes. This doesn’t do a lot new compared to that game but it doesn’t really have to. If you just want a really fun South Park story with simple, less challenging gameplay you will find it here. It’s very seldom that a game makes me want to see and do everything but The Fractured But Whole did just that, even more so than it’s predecessor and I had an absolute blast throughout its 20 hours run time.