So not too long ago I revisited Stick of Truth to prepare for Fractured But Whole. I highlighted a few things I felt that FBW needed to work on to outshine SoT. Now that we’ve finally gotten to play the much-anticipated game I find myself mostly satisfied. In some ways, it managed to go further than Stick of Truth, in others it didn’t hit the mark, and it sadly did repeat a few mistakes. Overall I am happy with the game, but still, can’t help but feel a slight sting of disappointment. Either way, I am getting ahead of myself so let’s look at Fractured But Whole.
Fractured But Whole picks up not long after Stick of Truth. The kids are still playing “fantasy,” and you take control of the new kid who is the king. Cartman interrupts their game to abruptly switch everyone to superheroes, attempting to leave your character out. You are finally accepted as a low-level superhero that doesn’t have their own place in the “franchise” yet. You also discover that like last time the kids are divided into different factions. You join Coon and Friends to help them find a missing cat to claim the reward money and get their franchise going before the Freedom Pals can. Like last time as you are on this journey events unfold to show there is something much larger at work.
There is a lot this game does right and a lot that doesn’t seem to fit together. One of the missteps, in my opinion, is the overall plot. It’s not bad; it just doesn’t flow. Every new day is basically a new chapter in the story, and you are given something else about the deeper plot that is happening. For instance, one day ends with you facing off against Professor Chaos and finding out how he fits into the larger plan. None of the plot points are bad, and they do eventually come together in the end. The problem is they don’t feel like they exactly belong together. Moving from one day to the next means one storyline to the next. What happens is the game starts to feel like an episodic game that never came together as a whole. There are hints and connecting pieces, but it still doesn’t fit exactly right. It also doesn’t help that the larger plot is a touch weak and towards the end kind of falls apart into a bit of a mess. Again, I am not saying it’s terrible, it’s just far from a strength to the game.
On the other hand, there is some exciting work done as far as character development. While Stick of Truth did feature a large number of characters, there wasn’t that much focus on them. This game has a slightly smaller cast, but there is surprising depth given to a few. Tweek and Craig (who have recently become personal favorites of mine) are given more of a focal point. Their story in the game, as with the show, is shockingly sweet but still hilarious. Wendy shows up and is given a much more central part of the story, and she is just one example. In fact, surprisingly the least in-depth characters are the main four, but this is kind of nice. Stan, Kyle, Kenny, and Cartman aren’t forgotten, but it was rather fun not having them be a central feature the entire game. Also, in spite of the overall plot feeling a touch weak there are great moments that happen in it. I never felt compelled by the main story. However, I did find myself wanting to keep digging in because there was still a lot happening that was genuinely entertaining.
As with Stick of Truth, you are once again given free run of the town. There are some upgrades to reflect the changes made to the town in the show. Overall though it does feel like a limited map space once again. There are a few new areas to explore, but even with those, the game doesn’t feel much larger than it’s predecessor. It once again left me feeling like it wasn’t entirely fleshed out. But like the game before it, it looks great. As far as tie-in games go South Park has nailed looking like the source material. It really does look, feel, and sound like an interactive episode. The novelty of exploring South Park may have worn off, but it being familiar is not entirely a bad thing. Sticking too what fan expect is really the best course, and what we expect is what we had already been given the first time around.
Gameplay is rather different this time around. It is still a turn based game, but now features a grid for the characters to work on. Your attacks impact different squares as to the enemy attacks. If you’ve ever played a game like this you know what to expect, if you haven’t the game is rather good at explaining the proper use of space and movement. There are times it can end up tricky, and being smart about which characters you use together is important. If characters require the same general squares for attacks, then you are sol. There are also more classes for your main character and characters to choose from. You end up with a much larger line up of powers and people to make up your party. This does allow for a lot more experimentation and variety to keep boredom at bay. Yet, the game still suffers from reaching a point (fairly quickly) where you find what works, and end up doing the same thing over and over. Again, there is more for you to play around with, but often it doesn’t feel like the time to do so. What I mean is a lot of the powers that you passed over you will never put into your line up to see the difference with. Once you have your character worked out who you bring to support you won’t change often. You are given the benefit of more unique encounters to shake things up, so it’s not as bad as SoT, but tedium does start to be a factor with this game.
In the end, I was delighted with the game. I had a lot of fun playing it; there were many moments that made me laugh out loud and a lot of very clever jokes built in. I was disappointed that a few aspects weren’t improved, but not so much that it had that large of an impact on my enjoyment. I was also pleased with some of the changes, so in the end, it was more positives than negatives. I find myself looking forward to more playthroughs and excited for the DLC we will see soon. My bottom line is if you liked Stick of Truth you’ll likely also enjoy this game. If you haven’t played either you might want to consider it.