All the way back in 2014, South Park came out with “The Stick of Truth” which had one of the most wonderful little video game conceits: you were the New Kid who came to South Park and play some variant of Live Action Role Playing with the rest of the 4th Graders.
Of course, there’s a lot of “holy cow, I can’t believe that they went there” humor that I don’t even feel particularly comfortable describing (for example: the Nazi Zombies that use actual sound clips from the 1930’s or 1940’s are among the less offensive of the offensive jokes that they tell) but there’s also a strange magical thing that the game does where it captures what it’s like to be a 4th Grader who is playing a live action role playing game with everybody in the neighborhood. The magical thing where you’re the thief and you’re playing with the wizard and you go into the tavern to find out about the bard… and, occasionally, getting interrupted by such things as “we can’t play unless we help Tweek finish his chores.” So you help Tweek finish his chores and then you get back to the game.
And then that sort of thing is punctuated by humor that makes such things as Nazi Zombies downright family friendly by comparison.
Well, there’s a sequel. This one opens in the same “universe” as the previous game. You’re The King of the Neighborhood following the events of the first game and you’re level kabillion and you get to use your level kabillion skills in a huge neighborhood-wide knock-down drag-out battle that culminates in a fight against an awesome cardboard dragon (interrupted by a car coming down the street… “CAR!” “Car…” and everybody steps off onto the lawn… the driver passes… “game on!” and the fight against the dragon concludes) and the battle reaches its climax…
And everybody decides to, instead, play superheroes.
And you go from being the King to being the new kid who doesn’t so much as have a superhero costume. So you have to start over back at the beginning at level one.
They capture, again, the strange magic of being a fourth grader part of a neighborhood-wide live action game.
The humor is just as indescribable and offensive as in the first game and it hasn’t been upgraded, but the mechanics of the game have been. Combat is now a bit more tactical as you move around a grid, you have to deal with such things as “lava” (red Lego bricks) blocking you from going places that you quite thoroughly explored in the previous game, and sidequests galore (some of which are vaguely offensive to the point where the main one I feel comfortable talking about is the rhythm minigame that involves you pooping in every single toilet in town).
If you loved the first game (and, I admit, I loved the first game), you will be delighted with the sequel.
If you were offended by the first game, you’re going to be offended by this one… and, yeah, if you didn’t care for the first one, there’s not going to be much in this one to get you to change your mind.
If you were a fan, however, you should get it. It’s charming and offensive and funny as all-get-out.
So… what are you playing?
(Picture is HG Wells playing a war game from Illustrated London News (25 January 1913))