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South Park is easily one of my favorite shows of all time. I love how the show takes jabs at anything and anyone and isn’t afraid to offend or just be downright crude. It has been one of Comedy Central’s highest rated shows and has been responsible for a lot of outrage over the years. The best thing about South Park is that despite what some people think, it’s not completely inaccurate in how it depicts young children. Granted, the show is over-the-top but I’m talking more about how the children interact with each other. I can remember when I was in fourth grade. That was when saying “fuck” was the new and cool thing to do. I went to a public school in America so I can’t speak about other schools in other countries but I would imagine that’s how other kids picked up all kinds of taboo words and phrases. Whether they hear them from others or the media, I think it would be almost impossible to completely avoid hearing certain things. Developed and published by Ubisoft, South Park: The Fractured But Whole was released for PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 in October, 2017 and Switch in April, 2018. It was subject to several delays and I believe the name was somewhat controversial hence why it doesn’t use the traditional spelling of “butthole”. This is a sequel to South Park: The Stick of Truth and it changes things up quite a bit.
The story takes place directly after the events of the The Stick of Truth. You play as the New Kid again who is now King Douchebag and while the kids in the neighborhood are trying to defend Kupa Keep, Cartman appears and convinces everyone to switch games. Now everyone is playing superheroes. Their goal is to find a missing cat and claim the reward in hopes to launch a superhero media franchise. The heroes are split into two factions, Coon and Friends and Freedom Pals and of course, being South Park, the children end up in a bizarre conspiracy involving the police, sixth graders, and crime families. Cat urine is being used to contaminate drugs and alcohol which in turn raises crime in the town. In order to be a superhero, the New Kid needs a backstory so Cartman provides one; the New Kid witnesses his or her parents having sex. The entire storyline is absurd, surreal, and comical. Although, I will say it’s not nearly as funny as The Stick of Truth. Don’t get me wrong, it has its moments and there are several parts that made me laugh, but it’s just not as funny. The voice acting is once again on point. Matt Stone, Trey Park, and April Stewart voice most of the characters and as usual, there are no limits as to what the writers will poke fun at. I think Craig is one of the standout characters here. His one-liners during cut scenes and combat can be truly hilarious and the game does expand on his relationship with Tweek.
When you first fire up the game, you’ll need to create your New Kid by choosing a hair style, makeup, facial hair, eyewear, clothes, and hand or glove style. Most of these can be changed as you acquire new costumes and cosmetic items throughout the game. Your appearance including things like clothing and headgear are all cosmetic and don’t actually affect your character’s abilities. The difficulty is decided by the color of your skin with white being the easiest and black being the hardest but this doesn’t affect combat. Combat difficulty is separate and can be changed during gameplay. Because you’re a superhero, you’ll have a character sheet which lists all different types of information about your superhero persona. These include things like your hero rank, ethnicity, gender, alignment, religion, power source, kryptonite which is your weakness, and all of these things can be decided throughout the story which kind of renders the character creation useless. For example, you can actually change the color of your skin at a certain point during the story. Your character traits will affect how some NPCs treat you. When you decide your ethnicity, you unlock the Microaggression feature. This feature grants a free chance to hit an enemy that spouts something offensive during combat. It can be quite humorous.
You’re free to roam around the town of South Park but some areas are blocked off and require special abilities or buddy powers before you can gain access. Some areas just require a key item. You’ll unlock several buddies on your journey that can join you in combat and specific ones can be summoned throughout the world to help you out with problems or in other words solve puzzles. Captain Diabetes can utilize his diabetic rage to lift large objects or at least rip them out of the ground. You can use the Human Kite to perform a Fartkour to reach higher elevations. Toolshed can use his sandblaster to blast away hazardous liquids or blow through nozzles. And Professor Chaos will shove a hamster up The New Kid’s ass so he can fire it out to overload electrical panels. Solving puzzles normally results in you finding new items like costumes, artifacts, and components. Like in The Stick of Truth, you can still use the environment to your advantage like throwing Snap N Pops to start fires or break things you can’t reach by normal means. You can fart on fires to cause explosions, great for knocking out enemies or destroying objects blocking your path. You can also toss a fart at enemies to distract them so you can sneak by.
As you traverse the town, you’ll come across and unlock fast travel flags to help you get places quicker. This time around you can grab certain objects and move them around, usually required to reach certain areas or to solve certain puzzles. Exploring is in your best interest as is interacting with NPCs, specifically taking selfies with them so they can follow you on Coonstagram. I guess you could say collecting followers is a form of collectibles and some won’t follow you unless you complete a mission for them or have a certain amount of followers already. But there are traditional collectibles you can acquire throughout the world like Memberberries and the Yaoi art which all depict Tweek and Craig. You can buy and sell items from vendors or vending machines and use the components you collect to craft items like artifacts, costumes, and consumables. As you craft items you gain crafting experience and when you earn enough experience, your crafting rank will increase and to craft better items, you need to be at certain crafting ranks. Everything you find or purchase can be used in some way so nothing is truly useless. There are titles you can earn which basically involve you completing minor objectives as you play that usually reward you with experience and items upon completion. These include things like defeating a certain amount of enemies of a specific type, collecting a specific amount of collectibles, or mastering a certain amount of potty breaks. Yes, shitting makes a return which is now identified as potty breaks. You sit on a toilet and must complete brief minigames to pinch a loaf and if you can master each phase, you’ll be rewarded with an item. As you complete missions, defeat enemies, and earn titles, you’ll be rewarded with items, money, and experience, and when you gain enough experience, you rank up or in other words, your hero rank increases.
Like The Stick of Truth, the combat in The Fractured But Whole is turn-based. However, things are a lot different and battles are much more strategic. Battles play out on a grid and you can move your characters around the grid and choose your attack, use or consume an item, or give consumables to nearby allies. Before a battle begins, you have the option to make changes like swapping out allies for example. You can only have up to three allies assist you in combat and all the buddies you acquire make up your allies. Some allies are locked into the battle for story-purposes and sometimes you’ll have to fight solo. In the beginning of the game, you have the option to choose from one of three classes but as you progress through the story, you’ll get to select other classes. You will be a multi-class character and you can actually switch classes at any time from the Coon Lair. Each class has different attacks and abilities, otherwise known as powers. You can only have up to four powers and swap them out with others from your other classes. Many abilities can inflict status effects, both positive and negative. You can use powers to increase your attack, shield characters, or even provide yourself or allies protection. Negative status effects include bleeding, gross out, freezing, burning, charm, confusion, and shock, and your health is immediately restored after every battle. Placement is key during combat because some enemies can perform devastating attacks but it may take multiple turns before the attack is unleashed. You can see where on the grid the attack will land so you can position your characters accordingly to dodge it. Plus, you can only move characters to certain areas of the grid during a turn depending on their current position and your powers will only affect certain areas of the grid so the proper positioning of your characters is very important. Some battles include special objectives like avoiding a dangerous enemy chasing your party, avoid getting attacked from under the floor, or simply defeating unique enemies. The combat is more involved than just choosing the power and letting loose. You will be prompted to press buttons during attacks and you’ll want to mash the block or guard button when enemies attack you. Blocking does deflect some damage but more importantly, each successful block adds to your party’s ultimate meter and when the meter is full, one of your heroes can unleash their ultimate attack.
While exploring the world, enemies will try to attack and you’ll encounter all types of enemies like Chaos minions, Ninjas, Crab People, the Raisin girls, sixth graders, Rednecks, regular adults, cats with multiple asses, senior citizens, and other classic character types you may have seen in the show. You can attack them first or run away if you can. Whoever attacks first gets the combat advantage during the battle meaning they attack first. You can normally see the enemies in the world before you get close enough that they chase you and all enemies have a certain might level which basically tells you how strong they are. You’ll want to be at the same or higher might level and your might level can be increased through the use of artifacts and DNA strands. As your hero rank increases, new artifact slots become available. There’s minor artifacts, major artifacts, and epic artifacts. Minor and Major artifacts grant team bonuses which include things like brawn, brains, spunk, health, and movement. Epic artifacts usually grant special abilities. For instance, one artifact will inflict bleeding on a successful critical strike and another may cause healing items to provide more health than usual. DNA strands effect your combat effectiveness like buffs to certain attributes while debuffs to others. You should choose the best DNA strand that matches your powers. For example one strand may increase your health and lower your brains. Another may increase your health and spunk but decrease your brawn. Your powers are tied to certain attributes so you should try different combinations of DNA strands and powers to see what works best for you. The artifacts, DNA strands, and powers you select are basically how you build your character and considering that you change classes at any time and will acquire all kinds of new artifacts and DNA strands as you play, you can try out any combination of these until you find what best fits your playstyle.
I love toilet humor and I was laughing constantly at all the fart stuff in The Stick of Truth. The Fractured But Whole takes farting to a whole new level and it’s what makes the New Kid unique. The New Kid can basically control time with his or her ass. You’ll acquire different fart powers that can be used during and outside of combat. The Timefart Glitch can be utilized to reset objects in the world or cancel an enemy’s turn during combat. The Timefart Pause will briefly stop time and if used during combat, you can punch enemies while time is stopped. When in battle, these fart powers can really help you out in a pinch and knowing the best times to use them is key. It should be noted that after using a fart power in battle, you’ll have to wait a certain amount of turns before it can be used again. Summons make a return but you will have to meet the appropriate NPCs and even complete a mission or series of missions before they are unlocked. Summoning characters during combat requires an item and you can either craft these if you have the appropriate components or find them throughout the world. The summoned characters will usually perform a devastating attack damaging multiple enemies. Knowing when to use fart powers, summon characters, and unleash ultimate attacks is probably more important on the higher combat difficulties but there were a few battles that really challenged me and these are usually what saved me.
The layout of South Park is basically unchanged from what we saw in The Stick of Truth. There are some new locations you’ll visit but nothing quite as exotic as travelling up a somebody’s ass. Most of the adventure takes place at locations in town. You will get to traverse through a strip club, Dr. Mephesto’s lab, and you’ll even get to travel to Heaven. The world and locations are filled with NPCs and little puzzles so there’s always a reason to visit previously explored areas. You can interact with things like doorknobs, lids, handles – basically if it has gold handles, you can open it. You can simply wack things with your fists to break them and some broken objects will reveal items that you’ll automatically collect. Any consumables you acquire can be used during combat but using a consumable does take up a turn. Health items restore your health and antidotes remove any negative status effects. But because using a consumable takes up a turn, you’ll need to think about if it will truly benefit you or end up hurting you in the end. It’s also good to know what characters can do what because some characters have healing abilities, some can teleport or utilize attacks that will move them to a different part of the grid, and others can grant buffs like increased attack power or a shield. Much like The Stick of Truth, the game is very accessible on the default combat difficulty and the combat itself is pretty fun. It’s fun messing around with different classes, powers, and different allies during battle. Add in the artifacts and DNA strands, and there’s a lot here to dig into.
During the time I played and recorded the footage for this review, I did acquire all of the currently available DLC. I do know more is coming. You can access the major DLC from the DLC Bus Stop in town. The Danger Deck can actually be accessed at the Bus Stop or at a specific location in the world and I think it’s quite interesting. It’s kind like a training simulator of sorts where you combat enemies that are generated based on your current Might level. The combat difficulty is set to Mastermind and most of the challenges require you to follow a specific strategy to win. Charmers may constantly advance on your position. Priests will utilize telegraph attacks to box you in. And the infamous pedophile known as Jared can attack while charging up telegraph attacks. These challenges will really put your skills to the test. If you’re looking for more challenging gameplay, the Danger Deck should suffice. The From Dusk Till Casa Bonita DLC is an additional storyline where you need to help Mysterion rescue his sister from the Vamp Kids of South Park. This DLC grants you access to the new Netherborn class complete with new powers, a new buddy, new consumables like elixirs, new costumes, and new locations. As expected, it’s quite short and you can probably beat it in under two hours. There are some neat minigames, a few interesting characters, and humorous moments but the best part about the DLC is that anything you acquire you get to keep and use in the main storyline.
The Fractured But Whole does look a little better than The Stick of Truth and it does capture the South Park look and feel as if you were watching an episode of the show. The game retains the show’s iconic cut out animation style and it does run on Ubisoft’s Snowdrop engine. The music is phenomenal and fits the gameplay well. A lot of the soundtrack is full of these dramatic scores that sound as if they’re from any modern superhero movie. From the satisfying sounds of the slashes and punches to the roaring sounds of flame powers, the sound effects are very satisfying to say the least. On the technical side, the game ran smooth throughout my entire experience but I did encounter a couple of bugs. During one battle, the game decided to give a dead enemy a turn so the battle never progressed and during a specific part of the story, the game refused to register my button presses. I just had to reload the last save to resolve these issues and the game does autosave frequently so these were just minor annoyances. You can also save manually at any time.
I had a great time with The Fractured But Whole and I always felt like my character was growing. Simply exploring the world and acquiring items becomes addictive. I always wanted a new costume or a new artifact or to find a new puzzle so I can find new items and there’s always something new being thrown at you. Whether it’s new items, new powers, new classes, new character traits, new artifacts and DNA strands, new abilities, the game is always introducing you to new things. Now I’ve heard others say they preferred The Stick of Truth but I have to say, I think this is the better game, overall. At least from a gameplay standpoint. I think it’s biggest drawback is that it’s not as funny as its predecessor. But I was glued to the screen throughout my entire playthrough and I even double-dipped and acquired the Switch version because I want to play it on-the-go. And while I don’t play many turn-based games, this has become one of my favorites in the genre. It’s turn-based but very accessible for those not well versed in turn-based games which is good for me because I really don’t have a mind for strategy.
If you’re a South Park fan, I would definitely recommend The Fractured But Whole. I would also recommend it to fans of RPGs and/or turn-based games. The game retains the surreal quality of the show and tackles several controversial subjects but unfortunately, the writing isn’t as funny as the writing in the The Stick of Truth, at least in my opinion. However, the gameplay more than makes up for it. This is also a much longer game than The Stick of Truth. It took me about twenty four hours to complete the storyline but that includes some side missions and I did take my time. Even if it’s not as funny as its predecessor, there’s a lot to enjoy here and the gameplay is rock solid.