Review: South Park: The Fractured But Whole
I'm not even touching that title...
Although South Park has been a multimedia icon for over 20 years, the games have been less than stellar. That was until 2014’s The Stick of Truth was released to critical acclaim. Now, with a new development team at the wheel, and the creators of the series still having creative control over the problem, South Park is back, and somehow better than ever. I’m gonna make this real easy for you… if you even somewhat enjoy South Park, then this game is for you.
Taking the role of “The New Kid”, players can create their own fourth grader to play in the town’s game of make believe. Chronologically taking place immediately following Stick of Truth, Fractured picks up with the kids dropping their game of Lord of the Rings to swap over to their Superhero alter egos. Split into two factions — Coon & Friends and Freedom Pals — the kids find themselves embroiled in a criminal conspiracy while looking for a missing cat (and fighting over which superhero franchise is going to make more money). Overall, the plot made for a memorable trip through the famous locales, while adding in plenty of references from the show’s history to make for an amazing experience for fans.
Much like in Stick of Truth, players can explore the town outside of combat to find extra items and references to the series. The game also brings back the “Metroidvania”-esque level design of unlockable abilities that are used at different parts of the campaign to revisit old areas in new ays. This helps to maintain your interest in the small town.
Fractured But Whole also introduces a new crafting mechanic to the series. In place of the “Junk” that served no real purpose, Fractured created a system to use that Junk to create better equipment, consumable resources, or new outfits. Players can find or buy recipes to create new items, while leveling up their crafting skills to create more powerful versions of those items. This was by far the best way to get some of the best items (and some of my favorite costumes) in the game, and a really welcome addition to help give the junk more meaning.
Fractured’s combat system is a slightly tweaked version of The Stick of Truth’s “hit button when prompted” combat by adding in a combat grid. This new addition opens up plenty of strategic options as character placement becomes incredibly important. Fractured also bumps the party size up to four, creating plenty of options and combinations of the 14 total party members.
With the new combat system, the characters of Fracture But Whole really come together to make the gameplay shine. Each character has a designated class that allows functionality in completely different scenarios. While most of the classes are placed into Physical Attackers, Special Attackers and Supports, the various kids all have different ways of using these classes in interesting ways. Super Craig uses pure strength to take the front line of battle while Mosquito has low health but the ability to regain HP through attacks. Combining these character specializations with the ability to move characters around the battlefield is the best way to fight through South Park.
While I really enjoyed the combat mechanics, I found the game to be a little too easy. I played my runthrough at normal difficulty, but was provided with very little challenge as the game progressed. The boss fights were interestingly designed and incredibly entertaining, but didn’t provide much of a challenge after the main gimmick was revealed. This was particularly amplified as the end game throws more and more generic encounters at you, and I found myself skipping these pickup fights as they didn’t do much more than waste time.
However, with all of that said, I still thoroughly enjoyed my second adventure as the new kid in South Park. The interesting gameplay couldn’t overcome the game’s low difficulty curve near the end of the game, but the story and exploration of the titular town still made this game one of the most humorous and memorable experiences I’ve had in gaming since Stick of Truth in 2014. If you’re not a fan of South Park’s humor, then I don’t think that the RPG mechanics will be enough to keep you in town for the long play time, but if you’re a fan of the source material, you will need to play through Fractured But Whole immediately.
Overall: I give South Park a Raisin Girl Selfie out of 10.