If you follow my work, you’ll know I’ve already made my feelings about South Park clear; I love the show, I loved the Stick of Truth and I’m seriously considering dressing my boyfriend up as Mysterion at some point. So I cannot tell you how excited I was to dive into The Fractured But Whole. I mean, I’ve been wanting to see what The Fractured But Whole had to offer for a long time. I’ve often asked myself, “What gems were hidden within The Fractured But Whole?” but the answer was always the same: “Laura, you’ve used this joke too much.” So without much further ado, let’s get crackin’!
The Fractured But Whole brings us back to the town of South Park, Colorado. Fresh off our previous escapades in The Stick of Truth, our hero (known simply as King Douchebag) must work his way up from the bottom once more as the genre shifts from fantasy to superheroes. Using a new arsenal of super-powered attacks and our heroes’ infamous fart abilities, they will give South Park the justice it deserves and launch a franchise to last the test of time.
So right off the bat, we all know one of the biggest draws of this game was the humour. As with The Stick of Truth, this game ought to feel like you’re in an episode of South Park. It needs to have that rude, crude satirical humour we all know and love. I am happy to say it does, but with a few faults. I feel like a couple of jokes were put in purely for shock value rather than because they added to the game. For example, one of your superpowers involves putting a hamster in a child’s ass. I wasn’t aware my character was a young Richard Gere, but good to know I suppose.
As opposed to the previous game, the story feels much more linear. You aren’t given much choice at all and what’s there is artificial at best. And it’s not as if there aren’t opportunities. Even the simple choice of “Pick a side in the superhero civil war” isn’t given to the player. What’s more, there’s a lot of points where there’s so much build up but no real payoff.
For example, one of the choices you can make in the game is your gender and ethnicity. I really like the idea, since it gives you a little extra joke since your character was presumed to be male all through the first game. I chose female and had an immediate “Wait, really?!” reaction. I thought it was going to build up to the point where Cartman would just stop and go “Wait, what? We’ve been playing with a girl all this time?! Fuck!” But nah, not even an after-credits sequence. It’s like I put in the work to picking my gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity and in the end, it was just words on a character sheet. No reaction, no acknowledgment at all.
Now, onto the gameplay part of this game. The biggest change from The Stick of Truth to The Fractured But Whole (aside from the thematic shift) has to be the combat system. They’ve moved from your standard RPG turn-based combat, to a battlegrid system. Basically, instead of just aiming at a target, you have to line them up right. Honestly, I can’t say I’m a fan of the change. It can sometimes be a little awkward to line up your abilities but the main crux of the issue lies in the fact you cannot attack someone right next to you.
Every attack has to go to the left or right of the screen, so if the enemy is above or below your character there are very few moves that can hit them. I can’t really grasp what the logic here was. I’m still able to box the enemies in an attack, it just means that usually one guy is left doing nothing because he can’t reach the enemy. It’s very awkward.
Sadly, that’s not the only awkward thing surrounding this game. You may have heard of the recent controversy surrounding the skin tone selection screen. Basically, there’s a throwaway joke that the skin tone selection is also the difficulty selection. It has no bearing on the actual game in terms of combat or resources, but being a darker skin tone is listed as the highest difficulty which obviously attracted some attention.
Honestly, I didn’t see it as a huge deal, it was kind of an “It’s sad cos it’s true” joke that most people could just laugh and move on from, but I’m surprised it’s that part that people are focusing on. Like I said, a lot of this game has things thrown in for shock value. This is tame! If you wanna be angry, take a look at the Black Panther costume in this game. Now THAT is worth getting offended over in my opinion.
So in the end, did I enjoy The Fractured But Whole? Yes, but in all honesty, just go play Stick of Truth. While I enjoyed it, there are a lot of flaws and since the plot hit bum notes with me I can’t say it’s worth the money when Stick of Truth was more fun and funnier. It’s worth picking up if you’re a fan of the series, I just wouldn’t pay the €60 price tag. That said, if you’d like to pick up South Park: The Fractured But Whole, it is available now for PC, PS4 and Xbox.
If you’ve played the game, be sure to let us know in the comments and on our Facebook page. We’d love to hear from you!