Remember South Park: The Stick of Truth? Man, what a great game. Light RPG elements, turn-based combat, endless throwbacks to the best episodes of the series, and always with the genuinely offensive humor of Trey Parker and Matt Stone. Remember The Fractured But Whole, too? It certainly didn't match the greatness of Stick of Truth but it was undoubtedly decent. The "problem"is that I too was thinking about these two titles constantly while playing the latest game in the world of the small Colorado mountain town: South Park: Snow Day! Which is in no way another Fractured But Whole, but also in absolutely no way even comes close to the Stick of Truth.

Randy Marsh holding Toilet Paper
As in any humanitarian crisis, toilet paper becomes super-valuable and is the monetary unit of the world, which we collect as Loot from enemies and containers.

First of all, we are now talking about a radically different style of gameplay. Unlike the previous 2 South Park games, Snow Day! has no particular RPG elements in terms of character development, no turn-based battles, and no art style that directly resembles an episode of the series. The familiar cartoony 2D graphics style is replaced by a fully 3D environment, and the battles are now fully real-time. Also, in theory at least, it's not even a single-player game. Snow Day! is marketed as a 4-player co-op beat-em-up action game (and with some roguelite elements), though at least the remaining 3 party slots are filled by AI bots while playing solo, which allows the game to be completed without "company".

South Park: Snow Day combat in the snow
A typical example from the game's combat. On the top left, the HP of our party members, either living or bots.

In terms of the plot, Snow Day! is directly connected to the previous 2 games. We once again play as the New Kid, whose OP superpowers have destroyed the kids' previous 2 game sessions (according to Eric, Kyle, Stan and Kenny at least). A violent snowstorm that has paralyzed everything in the small mountain town stands as the occasion for yet another RP session for the kids, but this time there are some variations to their game rules, variations that tie directly into the aforementioned roguelite elements.

In particular, precisely because no one could agree with the others as to the exact rules they would follow, the children designated Butters as "Keeper of the Rules". So, before each battle, the factions involved (Kyle's Elves and Cartman's Humans, at least at first) would get together and draw some cards from Butters' Rulebook. These are completely random each game session, have a rarity and power level, and either boost the players' attacks/skills or can be summoned during battles to give some temporary bonus (precisely because their benefits are quite OP, they've been given the name... Bullshit cards).

Snow Day Book of Laws
Back at Cartman's headquarters between Chapters, we can flip through the Book of Laws which contains all the cards we've encountered so far in our adventures.

As for the combat itself, it's fully real-time in a 3D environment as mentioned before. The New Kid can choose between 3 melee and 3 ranged weapons (1 of each at the start of each chapter) plus 2 of 8 available power-up skills. Depending on the weapons we equip, there are corresponding fast attacks and charged attacks, there are dodge/block moves, there are jumps and attacks from different directions, and generally everything one would expect to encounter in a 3D real-time combat game. There are also various kinds of melee and ranged opponents, from small kindergarteners that swarm the player to "giant" 6th-graders with powerful attacks and a large health pool, but don't expect the most huge range of enemies.

Approaching the game as a "South Park" game first and foremost, there is at least some of the style we are used to in the plot and the characters' dialogue (I can remember 2-3 lines that made me laugh a lot), but the truth is that the broader storyline is nothing to write home about. I'd call it pretty basic and simplistic, especially compared to the layered intrigue of Stick of Truth and Fractured But Whole. With that said, inevitably the "make or break" factors of Snow Day! end up being the combat and the Roguelite elements.

Henrietta in Snow Day
At various points on the game's maps we will encounter Jimmy, who upgrades one of our cards, or Henrietta, who offers a "dark card" with various bonuses.

On principle, it's obviously not a big deal in itself that Snow Day! attempts something different rather than just rehashing the gameplay of the previous 2 South Park games, and the Roguelite system would undoubtedly have the potential to be an interesting gameplay mechanic that offers replayability. The thing is, though, the game seems more or less lacking in terms of content. It's obvious due to the Roguelite character and the co-op factor that the main "raison d'être" of the game is to play the chapters over and over again, alone or co-op, on different difficulties, with different equipment and with the random cards (and to collect all the collectibles to dress your character appropriately), but after finishing the story I personally didn't feel the slightest desire to keep playing. A story which is also completed in just 5 hours on Normal difficulty level, and after its completion there is something like "new game plus" in which we replay chapters of the game with increased difficulty in order to unlock cosmetics for the New Kid.

Snow Day Dark Matter Perk Tree
In addition to toilet paper, there are also currencies like Platinum Points, which are spent exclusively on buying cosmetics, or Mr Hankey's Dark Matter, which unlocks special perks in a separate tree.

The game's snowy environments also quickly become quite repetitive, as does the transition from battle to battle itself. This after all ends up being about 99% of the whole experience: visit one snowy area, "kill everyone", move to the next snowy area, "kill everyone", "move to another 2-3 areas where you kill everyone again (or the occasional "collect/activate 3 things" objective), then Boss Fight at the end of the chapter, short story cutscene and then go to the next game chapter where 90% of the exact same things happen.

There is always the possibility that South Park: Snow Day! will be enriched in the future with extra additions that will strengthen the (at least in principle, quite remarkable) Roguelite character at its core. Until that happens, though, I'd say it's mainly aimed at the most hardcore of South Park fans who don't want to miss a single ounce of the Parker/Stone world, or maybe even the fans who played Stick of Truth/Fractured But Whole in its day and now crave a radically different South Park experience than the 2D/Turn-based nature of those games. Personally though, after my involvement with Snow Day!, I'd give Stick of Truth another playthrough...

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RATING - 67%


F'd in the A

Shuffling the gameplay deck as we've come to know it in the previous two South Park games creates some interesting Roguelite prospects. The fairly poor variety of available content, however, makes Snow Day! at this stage the poorest member of the "New Kid" trilogy.

Κώστας Καλλιανιώτης

Archaeologist/Historian, RPG Player, Motörhead fan, Consumer of Mutton.

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