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Obisidian goes obscene with South Park: The Stick of Truth


Way back at the beginning of 2011, Obsidian Entertainment CEO Feargus Urquhart hinted that his company was about to work on a huge licensed title it didn't dare pass up. "It's a license that you would go, well you gotta do it," he told us at the time. "It's not a license where it's, 'Ok, we'll take that and we can do something with it.' It's more like, well that's once in a lifetime." Urquhart didn't budge at the time on what the license was, but he was visibly excited about being able to make it happen, whatever it was.

That licensed turned out to be none other than Matt Stone and Trey Parker's South Park, and the game turned out to be South Park: The Stick of Truth. It combines Obsidian's talent for grindy fantasy RPGs with Stone and Parker's warped sense of humor (and construction paper production values) to make a mix that's one of a kind.

Gallery: South Park: The Stick of Truth (E3 2012) | 10 Photos

The two sequences shown at the Comic-Con 2012 demo (one earlier in the game just after character creation, and the other about six levels in) worked, basically, for two reasons. The first one's simple: The game's funny. The whole thing's written by Stone and Parker, and some of the lines are pure gold. You play as the new kid in town, arriving in the middle of a city-wide fantasy LARP game, and when Cartman says that your coming "was foretold by Coldwell Banker," it's a solid joke.

If you're offended by South Park, you'll be offended by this game -- there's plenty of toilet humor and even a few f-bombs in just the short demo on display. But when one kid tells another, "You shall die by my sword, cleric," and the other says, "No I won't, asshole!" it's hard to stifle a chuckle at the very least.

The other reason the game works is because it's effective parody that plays with both South Park's setting, and Obsidian's classic computer RPG background. While South Park games in the past have mostly been about the characters spouting catchphrases while shooting or racing, this one's got an actual story that follows the conventions of a game like Neverwinter Nights 2 or Dungeon Siege 3 to the letter. There's a full inventory and currency system, and the retro combat is reminiscent of Costume Quest with a few arcade twists.

You get a quest, just like a "real" RPG, but it's Cartman telling you to go get him some Kung Pao chicken. Weapons can be modified to add poison or fire attacks, but the weapon is a toilet plunger, and the modifier makes characters vomit when sick. You put your name in at the beginning just like a standard RPG, but Cartman disregards whatever you type in and calls you Douchebag instead. When Cartman sets you off on your quest, he echoes all of those RPGs you've played before, before throwing the convention right into comedy land: "Will you seize your destiny," he asks, "or will you be a disappointment, like Butters?"

It's hard to tell if this will be a good game or not at this early stage -- certainly, it will appeal to some people (South Park fans, RPG diehards) much more than others (anyone who doesn't think a special attack that stars Mr. Slave, stuffing an enemy into a bodily cavity, is all that funny). But Urquhart was right: Obsidian basically had to make this title, because no one else had the licensing knowhow and the RPG experience to bring a game like this all the way into existence.

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