South Park: The Fractured But Whole is the irreverent comedy RPG sequel to South Park: The Stick of Truth. Where TSoT was meant to mirror Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings, TFBW pokes fun at the superhero genre and more specifically the crime fighting films and TV series that are being made now.
This game is absolutely hilarious. Every encounter is full of references to the show and has quirky- and yes exceptionally disgusting jokes. Potty humor is frequent, but well done in a way that doesn’t leave the player bored. The game changes the format of these jokes frequently, but if you don’t like toilet humor you should most definitely skip this game.
The gameplay is shockingly good. Games based on franchises and humor games are known for their poor quality in terms of gaming. They conventionally coast on appealing to fandoms interest in the characters or laughs. TFBW uses a traditional turn based RPG grid combat system that is combined with an innovative real time interrupt system. In usual turn based combat systems the player idly, almost passively watches the combat animations act out. This makes the player much more engaged in the combat as catching the button could be the difference between victory and defeat. This system seemingly does the impossible- it combines the engagement of an action game like God of War with the strategic planning of slower turn-based games like the Final Fantasy series. My only complaint is they didn’t lean hard enough into it. They really should’ve added more interrupts and randomized the buttons to push at varied times. That would’ve really made things much more appealing.
The game does an astounding job at creating interesting boss fights. Many games, many excellent games, Games of the Year like Skyrim and Fallout, fall into a trap of having repetitive combat. This is understandable as it’s costly to make each encounter unique, and if the game strives for realism it may not make sense to add extra mechanics arbitrarily. Since TFBW is unbound by the restraints of realism and consistency they are able to add hilarious, challenging, and fun mechanics to boss fights without breaking immersion. This is really one of the best parts of the game, and these fights really shine in their unique character. That being said, regular fights can become repetitive, but, luckily, they can be avoided most of the time.
The animations are superb. South Park of course uses its cardboard style for the characters, but many of the effects are much more eye catching. Each of the superhero powers and villain abilities has a unique animated effect. I can’t think of anything that was reused. Each NPC has different animated and audio reactions to you hitting them, throwing fireworks at them, or farting near them. They really didn’t need to make the game as visually interesting as it is, but they did it anyway. That’s a wonderful to see.
Glitches in this game are a nightmare. The opening sequence didn’t have any sound effects for me. Some characters will say multiple lines of dialogue over each other in certain instances. Most terribly for me, the main quest was derailed by a game terminating glitch, and so I didn’t get to finish the game. Game terminating glitches outweigh all the good of the game.
Some of the jokes repeat themselves frequently to the point where they are no longer funny and become irritating. Most notably, the fast travel system can be extremely irritating because Jimmy will make the player listen to his stuttering for five seconds each time. NPC comments are cycled a little too often and have a similar effect.
South Park has had a spectacular past in calling out liberal madness. They ruthlessly mocked Al Gore and global warming. The creators of South Park attacked the busy bodies trying to shut down tobacco. They pointed out the absurdity of the SJW’s. That trend continues to a great degree in this game. It points out the absurdity of modern gender and racial identity. There are parts where it micro-aggressions are made to look silly. Beyond that it is even traditional in the way it depicts superheroes as a gendered genre that is for boys by boys. Adventuring is a male fantasy for the most part. Girls in the game exist of course, and are playable, but there is a certain implicit understanding that playing superheroes is a boy activity.
The cancerous problems come in the depiction of police arresting black people because the police are racist. The police are shown arresting huge amounts of black people for no reason, charging them on obviously false charges, and eventually killing them. The game implies that black people commit the same amount of crime as whites. This is the peak of ridiculousness to end all ridiculousness for the simple reason that all black nations have high crime rates. In fact the richest black neighborhood in America has more crime than the poorest white neighborhood. This isn’t a simple misstep on their part. It is willful misinformation.
5/10 with the bugs. Game breaking bugs are simply too enormous of a problem to ignore.
8/10 if they can patch the problems up.