Enlarge / As a watchable piece of entertainment, The Fractured But Whole does pretty well.

As a game, on the other hand… (credit: Ubisoft)

Three-and-a-half years have passed, and yet I still can’t get over how good a video game South Park: The Stick of Truth turned out to be. Licensed games have improved a lot in recent years, but their quality is never guaranteed, and the South Park license had never been used to solid effect until that 2014 RPG came along. (A major legal-rights shuffling didn’t help Stick of Truth‘s pre-release worries, either.)
In that game, Obsidian Entertainment and South Park Studios took roughly 15 years of South Park material (basically, everything after the Bigger, Longer, and Uncut film), then recapped and celebrated the series’ best characters and most NSFW plotlines. More importantly, its power as a video game was used to incredible effect, whether by sending up RPG tropes and traditions or by making its interactive moments nearly as funny as its scripted ones.
That’s quite the bottle of lightning, and there’s no shame in the fact that its video game sequel, this week’s The Fractured but Whole, doesn’t recapture the same incredibly crude magic.

But it’s still sad how much the series’ new developers at Ubisoft missed the mark here.

This is by no means a bad video game—and effort was absolutely poured into making its RPG elements feel more substantial than last time—but the LEGO bricks of this game’s combat, exploration, themes, and South Park-caliber script were all put in the wrong order.
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