Warning: For anyone that purchases this game on PC, know that it will force a Uplay install if you buy it on Steam. Even if you buy it on Uplay, it also comes with Denuvo. Denuvo is a DRM software known to cause bugs and problems for certain PC games. While I was able to complete this game right to the end credits with about 96 percent of the game done, I did have to wrestle with quite a few bugs on my playthrough.
South Park: The Fractured But Whole takes place after the previous game, The Stick of Truth. Cartman drags “the New Kid” (you), and the rest of the South Park gang into playing superheroes with one goal in mind: they want to make the best superhero franchise possible. When the missing cat Scrambles has a 100 dollar reward for its return, it’s up to the would-be heroes to find it before the Freedom Pals. Yet quickly you learn that more is going on; crime is up in South Park and the heroes game becomes more than pretend rather quickly.
Once you make your character and you pass the tutorial, you can select from one of three hero classes: a brutalist, a blaster, or a speedster. Then you explore the entire town of South Park, completing quests to progress the story or to gain items, crafting materials and other collectibles. You can even take a selfie with the various characters in South Park; collecting these gives you additional rewards in your bedroom toy chest. Combat is grid based; your attacks and movement have certain ranges within the grid. As you progress through the game, the new kid gains the power to steal an enemy’s turn, pause time, or summon a past version of themselves with his farts. You can change your team line up in almost every battle before it begins, but some battles force you to use certain characters.
The best way for me to describe my experience with this game is that it was a roller coaster with great climbs and high drops. For everything that made me think, wow this game is really fun and creative, I had something that made me think, ugh is it over yet? For every item I got to strengthen my character, I slowly started to realize how boring the equipment system was. I also had this problem with the story. There were multiple moments where I was excited to see where the main or side quests were going, but eventually I just wanted to move on. I personally enjoy raunchy and crude humor. That being said, this game lives and dies on what jokes you find funny. The reason I say that is because the adventure itself is an average experience. I can’t say the game was truly bad at any point, I will give it that. However, you can only fight Cartman’s other personality aside from his super hero one so many times before the joke overstays its welcome. No matter what kind of taste you have in humor, some jokes will always be hit or miss.
As you level up your character you unlock artifact slots that give your character boosts to one of five stats. These stats are might, spunk, intelligence, health, and movement. The first three stats will affect different types of attacks while the other two affect your HP and how many squares you can move per turn in combat. The equipment is the first major potential wasted moment. You get six slots in total for minor, major and epic artifacts. All this does is make you and your team stronger; it boosts all stats equally for the most part. Epic artifacts unlock some special abilities yet I never cared about the abilities, just stat boosts. While the artifacts can give separate bonuses such as knockback or critical chance, I never found it mattered how I built my character. I just needed to get the artifacts with the bigger numbers. You’ll unlock a superhero “DNA” slot that gives more varied boosts; one might raise a certain stat and lower another, yet at no point did I find it mattered because you get DNA that eventually just boosted everything. As you progress through the story you unlock new classes to combine with your first class. You will eventually unlock every class from the game, which can cause any sense of progression through combat or build variety to feel absent from the game. The only saving grace is some exciting fights. You have an easy, normal and hard difficulty to choose from that you can change at anytime. I might even revisit this game after a few months to play it on hard.
Graphics and sound are going to be up to taste. If you like South Park or you like simple graphics you won’t have any problems enjoying the artstyle. The same applies with sound and music, if you like the show you’ll like the sounds. I’ll give the game credit though, the battle music for each type of enemy never overstayed its welcome. Now we need to talk about bugs. At the time of this review being written I have no idea if the bugs were caused by the pre-release build I played or Denuvo. I’ve had moments where the game froze up during battle or on certain set pieces like ladders. Sometimes I’ve had to restart the game to stop a bug. Sometimes I could just pause then unpause for the action to start up again. The strangest bug I encountered was a moment where a NPC doubled themselves at the kitchen sink. Two of them were just standing there washing dishes and they both acted like they were the only one washing. I had to double check to make sure I wasn’t missing a joke. Even with more than a dozen bugs I had to wrestle with I can at least congratulate South Park for making me interested in playing to the end. Replayability will also be up to tastes, I might revisit it but the game gave me no reason to do another run immediately after I beat it.
Overall, South Park: The Fractured But Whole is a very mature but ok game. It’s not the best game out there though fans of the show will enjoy it. Keep this game out of the hands of anyone under the age of 17. Don’t purchase this if you’re easily offended no matter what sort of side you claim to represent in your life. Also keep in mind about potential problems with the PC version due to Denuvo.