'South Park: The Fractured But Whole' is like a really, really long episode that you get to partake in.
'South Park' is the bodacious, unrepentant TV series and franchise that we all know and love for its shocking, absurd humour.
Only a few weeks ago these fourth graders made a return to the console as superheroes with the immersive and unique side-scrolling, point and click puzzler and turn-based tactical game, ‘The Fractured But Whole’.
As they wavered over the lines of political correctness with cringeworthy statements, scenes and taboo topics I wondered, 'how are the creators - Matt Stone and Trey Parker - still getting away with this?'.
Their social commentary highlights key global issues from paedophilia within the clergy, to targeted police brutality, straight-up racism and gender marginalisation. However, there were some moments where instead of laughing at the intended 'joke', my jaw just dropped.
Don’t get me wrong, I grew up on 'South Park' and understand their intent to shine a light on society's flaws. As these boundaries are constantly broken and comfort zones are breached, it really is 'South Park' and it really shows how closely these South Park creators worked with Ubisoft, which should be commended.
Once you get through creating your character and you’ve chosen your skin tone that is supposed to affect the difficulty within the game - a controversial and cringeworthy element that has never been seen before in a game - you join forces with Cartman as the Coon, and friends.
As the new vigilante in town, you become a valuable resource in the superhero group with your unique butthole powers.
Like a Marvel vs DC situation competing to be the biggest billion-dollar franchise, the other fourth graders create a rival superhero group, the Freedom Pals, and you race to solve the mystery of the missing cat for that huge $100 reward.
At the core, they are really just kids playing make-believe in the town of South Park; escaping the house at night, putting on costumes and creating all types of enemies including the sixth graders, the rednecks, the ninjas, the homeless and of course the dysfunctional parents.
Some key moments and potential spoilers - you’ve been warned - include the appearance of sober Towlie working in a marijuana dispensary - to defeat him you get him high; fighting an enraged, red wine drunk Randy; dealing with Butter's dad and his powers to ground any child that enters their home; and pulling the community of South Park up on Microaggressions with PC principle.
As far as gameplay goes, you side-scroll throughout all the beautiful locations of South Park: from the school, the church and from the most recent seasons, the gentrified and then run down SoDoSoPa.
A really enjoyable element of the gameplay is the seamless change from side-scrolling through the environment to then investigating and interacting with objects and puzzles in the point and click style of play - making use of special, out-of-combat abilities.
Much like a 'Pokemon' game if you walk by an enemy, for example the sixth graders, you will enter combat. However, you have the unique ability to get a combat advantage by hitting them first in this free-roam mode - throwing the first punch is quite entertaining.
Once you’ve entered combat, it is a fairly basic turn-based tactical/ strategy mode. Moving on a rectangular grid, you’ll choose between your ever-expanding abilities across your selected group of superheroes to beat down the various enemies in your way.
At various times they can offer a challenge when you come across an enemy with an unfamiliar ability, but often these can be quickly worked around. These battles can become quite mundane as you chew through hours of storyline, however they are kept fresh and entertaining with banter and taunts between the heroes.
Overall, 'South Park: The Fracture But Whole' is like a really, really long episode that you get to partake in. The cutscenes are fantastic. They look beautiful. They are hilarious and offer everything in terms of quality that you’d expect from a 'South Park' episode.
This definitely isn’t a depthless experience; there are hours and hours of gameplay and they have gone far and beyond to create a main storyline that will keep you hooked - like binge-watching a few seasons in one evening.
It should be said that if this style of game wasn’t in the world of 'South Park', it would be very hard to maintain interest to continue to the end.
You don’t really play this for the gaming experience, you play this for the dumb storylines and humour that is 'South Park'.