2014 has been something of a strange year. Acting as the first full year of Playstation 4 and Xbox One’s lives it’s felt a little like a transitional year. New concepts and IP’s take their first steps alongside known quantities to live up to the full promise of “next gen” – and not all of them meet the vast expectations. Many more developers tinker behind the scenes preparing their next gen debut’s busily but behind closed doors – many of the most anticipated games are yet to come. The result is a somewhat quiet year without a clear GOTY, but plenty of great games regardless. Without much more ado, here is the next of my top 10 games of 2014.
The art of being funny in a videogame is hard to learn, let alone master. But this year one game really did hit the nail of humour right on the head, South Park: The Stick of Truth isn’t only this years funniest game, but one of gamings finest as a whole. Satirical and in such unrelentingly bad taste the South Park boys adventure to claim the stick of truth stayed true to every ideal the TV show has built over the last decade and a half. Playing The Stick of True really was like watching an episode.
Long in development with RPG veterans Obsidian Studio’s South Park: Stick of Truth played like Paper Mario, with equal charm but far more larping children as foes, and of course zombie Nazi’s. Paired up with a single buddy per fight engagements were simple but satisfying. Player classes all may have lacked depth, including the Jew class, but each felt ultimately rewarding, and because each could wear all armour and wield similar abilities I never felt I was missing out.
South Park fans will appreciate Stick of Truth the most. The town itself is laid out with geographical context for the first time in the franchises history. Exploring it’s depth of easter eggs is utterly fascinating. Each of the boys wardrobes are rammed full of props that were once featured in the TV series, the awesome-o suit is in Cartman’s, Kyle has a Guitar Hero guitar, Mysterions suit hangs in Kenny’s and, Tom Cruise won’t come out of Stan’s. Even trash items scattered around South Park or, tucked away in drawers around the town are call-backs to episodes. Even the visual style emulates the TV show so perfectly, characters bob crudely around the even more crudely drawn town.
Ultimately though Stick of Truth succeeds thanks to the caring and thoughtful involvement of series creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone. The two’s involvement is not only evident throughout but instrumental to Stick of Truth’s realisation. No game in recent memory has been this funny, maybe someday we’ll get to see a sequel. But as series creators once said “it takes a long time to make something look this bad”.