South Park: Snow Day! game review

    TechnologyGamingSouth Park: Snow Day! game review

    For close to 30 years, South Park has been a staple of animated comedy television. From absurdist toilet humor to satirical commentary on current events, creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone have given us laughs and laughs. For me, it made me think about the way we view humor to this day. As for video games? Early on, they were hit or miss (mostly miss) with several console and mobile games, but The Stick of Truth (2014) and The Fractured but Whole (2017) had been solid RPG-style games that continued the laughs. Can South Park: Snow Day! be yet another solid entry in the current generation of South Park games?

    Snow Day! has you back in the shoes of the New Kid and takes place immediately after the last two South Park installments. A heavy blizzard ensues, with the kids getting the snow day Cartman wanted, and the kids’ imaginations run wild as you play through the game, with the New Kid again at the plot’s epicenter. The rules have changed since last time, so you’ll have to know and get used to them again.

    For starters, South Park is always best in 2D, and the move to 3D took me aback. While previous games such as South Park (1998) and South Park Rally (2000) were also in 3D, these games were not well-received. The gameplay often harked back to those games which is why I immediately took a dislike to the transition to 3D. According to Stone himself, moving back to 3D allowed the development team more flexibility in how the game world was built. “Creating a game on a 2D plane is really, really hard when you think about what you have to work with,” he said. While the game uses Unreal Engine, the 3D assets look like something lifted from VRChat or Roblox—a telling sign from a game that has the backing of a powerful brand such as South Park.

    You can customize the New Kid in any way you want, including giving the New Kid custom emotes. There are talent trees requiring Dark Matter (DM), which are used to purchase perks, and Toilet Paper (TP), which is used to purchase cards from Jimmy on each quest. You have to use TP at each level as it resets after each run. Don’t like the cards Jimmy gives you? You can bribe him with 75 TP to reshuffle the cards. You can also acquire cards from Henrietta, one of the Goth Kids, which give you pretty powerful non-conformist magic such as being granted 100 TP. DM can be found anywhere in a level, either on the ground, in treasure chests, or as enemy drops (harder enemies award more DM). Platinum Points (PP) can be used to purchase cosmetics for the New Kid.

    BS cards can be incredibly useful. Some include granting invisibility or taking out large packs of enemies, but enemies can also get BS cards—one that was incredibly annoying was the inability to use melee weapons, as I relied heavily on them to get through the game. One particularly useful card lets you get more TP from enemies, which allows you in turn to bribe Jimmy to reshuffle the deck in case you want to get a card that suits your playstyle. You can also upgrade your weapons and powers as you see fit.

    The humor that made me burst out laughing watching the show and the previous RPG installments is noticeably absent in this game. While I did crack a smile from time to time, nothing really had me bursting at the seams. Thankfully, the game was rather short compared to the other installments, but this was a huge dropped ball for an iconic comedy franchise and reminded me of the time when I saw Space Jam: A New Legacy in theaters—a classic franchise that failed to deliver on the potential it had.

    While you can now play with friends, were the sacrifices of story, humor, and gameplay worth it? First, you can join any chapter or difficulty mode if the host made it public. You can also even adjust for spoilers—but in a game this short, would you really need to? While the idea of playing with friends in a South Park game can be fun, the switch to 3D (at least for me) doesn’t make it right, especially with my memories of playing the older console South Park games.

    For a great and funny franchise like South Park, South Park: Snow Day! misses more than it hits. You’ll need to be a die-hard fan to really like the game. For those who have followed the show since the beginning, it gets even harder to stomach knowing that this game mimics the old console games. While it’s good for one run, it’s probably best to wash down the disappointment that this game brings with some classic South Park episodes.

    Developer(s): Question LLC, Black Forest Games
    Publisher(s): THQ Nordic
    Platform: PC, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch

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