If you're someone who can't get enough South Park in your life, then you're licking your chops for another game from the series. Thanks to Zack Webster, his impression may sate that hunger a little.
South Park: The Stick of Truth was such a wonderful surprise for a licensed game that for a moment it didn't even feel like one. Even with all the constant references and in-jokes only gained from encyclopedic knowledge of the show, it felt like such a natural extension of the show that the fact it was a great, if light, RPG didn't necessarily seem to matter so much. I'd have been happy with a standard sequel, but what we seem to be getting with South Park: The Fractured but Whole is a new beast entirely.
Taking place a day after the events of The Stick of Truth, the kids of South Park have changed from swords and sorcery to superheroes leaving you, the New Kid, King Douchebag, in the dust. But Cartman's attempts to franchise the fledgling heroes leads to a division between them, creating a civil war between Cartman's Coon and Friends and the Freedom Pals on just how exactly to capitalize on their alter egos. Seeing potential in the New Kid, Cartman offers him a change of clothes as well as giving him an origin story that aptly explains his new powers.
It's here where the demo really began. The New Kid can initially choose from one of three different starting powers (classes): Brutalizer, Blaster, and Speedster. Throughout the game up to twelve classes will unlock and will even be able to be combined to form new, mixed classes. The demo character chose Speedster, an aptly named class modeled after the Flash. His origin story, unique for each class, involves events as a child that are bit too dirty for print in a regularly family-friendly site, but this does mark where combat starts.
Changing things up from the last game's more traditionally-structured turn-based combat, The Fractured but Whole uses a grid for its battlefield instead. Each class has a set number of available moves, each with differing ranges and power levels. One of the key pillars the developers wanted to work on for the sequel was more tactical combat and in this sense they may have nailed it. Positioning is key in fights, manuevering your units in range for their attacks but out of the range of others is vital to survival. Some moves even manipulate position on the grid, like pushing enemies into other enemies or moving them further away. Additionally, dealing and recieving damage builds toward an overdrive bar that allows units to unleash devastating attacks.
Other aspects the developers were looking to improve upon were the amount of interactive humor in the game and a greater focus on exploration. The demo managed to give an example of both of these in one go. The New Kid's legendary farts return from the first game, but this time they can be utilized in different ways. For example, when traversing all over South Park, there will be areas just out of reach of the player. But when combining his flatulence with the powers of Kite Man, he can reach previously unreachable locations. The developers call this "Fartkour" and was the most prominent example of the demo's greater focus on exploration. Partnering with different superheroes will allow for different means of traversal as well.
While not playable at the show, The Fractured but Whole was one of the more entertaining parts of it. South Park fans will find plenty to like here, as show creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker are still on board. The humor is so on point and its RPG aspects so easy to grasp but fun to watch play out that this may even be a winner for those who can stomach more than ample potty humor. It seems weird to admit that a game like South Park could be one of my favorites of the show, but from what I've seen it appeals to both the RPG and South Park fan inside me.