South Park: The Fractured But Whole is the much-anticipated sequel to the Stick of Truth and features the return of all your South Park favorites. Fractured But Whole ditches it’s predecessor’s fantasy setting for a superhero theme and expands on all the core mechanics that made Stick of Truth so great.
South Park: The Fractured But Whole has some tremendous attention to detail, the characters, the voice acting are all faithfully adapted from the popular tv series and it’s hard to differentiate the game from a 20 hour long movie. Once again, you control the new kid – a child who has just moved to South Park with a normal background by South Park standards. You and your parents have a dark secret and your superhuman fart skills have the power to defeat dragons, yep totally normal. Character customisation returns and has been and allows you to choose the appearance, race, gender identity throughout the course of the game.
Cartman (aka The Coon) has big franchise plans for his superhero team: movies, series, toys, a very obvious jab at the current superhero craze. However, he needs money to make his dream come true, which is why the Coon’s friends decide to go looking for the cat Scrambles for a huge reward money of $100. However, Freedom Pals, the city’s second superhero team, have the same plan and once again, you suit up and face in turn-based battles, other superheroes, super villains, crab people, sixth graders, and ninjas.
The game is absolutely full of little jokes, cleverly placed long running TV gags and features almost all of South Park’s hilarious cast, that will leave fans giggling with glee. Be warned however, if you’re not used to South Park’s offensive nature this game will probably end up offending you in ways more than one. South Park has never been shy about crossing the line, and Fractured But Whole is no exception.
But despite the foul-mouthed cast and offensive nature of the story, South Park parodies some very serious issues and the game does have it’s wholesome moments. The length of the game does end up affecting the quality of the story with some pacing issues here and there, and some references might not get a laugh out for newcomers, but the overall script is still very much humorous and South Park like.
Fractured But Whole expands on Stick of Truth’s combat system by now allowing you to move around on the battlefield and introduces new combat mechanics like knockback, area denial and telegraphed attacks. Every member of your superhero entourage has unique skillsets that you can utilize, like The Human Kite acting as a ranged support and Super Craig who just punches people, really hard. Your team can also help you to traverse environments with their special skills, like the Human Kite can take you up to new heights. There are also ultimates – very powerful attacks, which can be used after you fill up the ultimate gauge, which is in turn filled with every subsequent attack you make, receive or counter.
You can still fart and throw firecrackers on your enemies before beginning a combat encounter to get an advantage, and you can be attacked by random NPC’s while exploring the world which initiates combat.
Speaking of exploration, the map of South Park has also been expanded upon and feature some simple puzzles as well. Exploring rewards you with coonstagram followers, which rewards you with XP. Most of the buildings are enterable and you can run into most of the South Park cast, who can offer you side missions or sell you items. Fast travel returns with help from F-f-ff-Fastpass AKA Jimmy, after discovering Fast Travel stations.
Coonstagram, is basically a gauge for your reputation within the game, and can be improved by taking selfies with the people of the town. Some people will not take selfies with you till you perform quests for them, or have a certain amount of followers. You can also see comments people share with each other and it really adds to the story, although taking selfies for the sake of progression does start to feel like a chore near the end.
Your team’s total power is measured by might which is directly influenced by artifacts that you can craft or find and equip to improve your stats. The might system is accompanied with an overall XP system and the coonstagram follower count, instead of the traditional simple earn levels to unlock new skills system that is more common in RPG’s.
Regarding difficulty, I had no problems on Heroic difficulty and Mastermind was challenging, but not overwhelmingly so. Unlike the previous game where the difficulty curve went down with time, this game manages to keep the challenge without becoming a grind, bosses are also creatively designed in the most South Park way possible.
The game also features a basic crafting system, that allows you to craft consumables and equipment with items you find while exploring, there’s nothing too deep here but it gets the job done.
Overall the gameplay is excellent and enjoyable but I feel Coonstagram and the crafting system could’ve benefitted from some additional polish.
Powered by the Snowdrop engine, Fractured But Whole is an absolutely faithful adaption when it comes to visuals, the characters, animations and even the town of South Park and it’s surrounding has been faithfully recreated and can easily be mistaken for a really long episode.
It’s no cutting edge graphics but fans will feel right at home with it’s well done 2.5D art style.