rAge 2017: South Park: The Fractured But Whole hands-on

rAge 2017 is now behind us, sadly drawing further and further away in a metaphorical rear view mirror. On the final day of the show, I took South Park: The Fractured But Whole for a spin before the doors opened. I last played this at rAge 2016, and was curious at how the game would feel a year later.

I’m glad I tried it before the Dome opened, because the demo wasted no time and catapulted players straight into a strip club. If anyone had been watching over my shoulder, I would have been compulsively apologising. Anyway, players once again control The New Kid, who is playing superhero with the other children of South Park.

The demo started at what I assume is a fair way into the story. The New Kid was playing sidekick to Captain Diabetes, and they were looking for a stripper with a penis tattoo, who would lead them to a stolen cat (or something). At least The Simpsons hasn’t done this already. The demo wasn’t focused much on combat, instead tasking players with solving some puzzles and succeeding in a lap-dancing minigame. With farts. Here’s a gameplay video from Ubisoft, showing basically the same demo.

The combat felt largely unchanged from last year, and starting out with a pre-made character didn’t incentivise expo-goers to replay the demo with a different build. The grid-based battles were still slightly confusing, mostly because I hadn’t spent a few hours coming to grips with it. What was surprising was a puzzle revolving around mixing the world’s most disgusting gin and tonic. With almost no directions, I had to learn from environmental cues and use abilities to retrieve ingredients. It felt like a more old-school approach to puzzles, one that was highly linear but rewarded observation.

The only issues with the demo came from unfamiliarity. The info card with the controls omitted several things, so figuring out how to fart at distant objects or open the crafting menu came down to pressing every button. However, that’s hardly going to be an issue in the final game after getting used to it. All in all, it felt identical to what I played last year, but with added exploration and puzzle features more indicative of a final product. It’s funny, crude, true to the source material, and feels like it’s going to be a farting fitting sequel.

South Park: The Fractured but Whole launches on 17 October, for PC, PS4, and XBO.