Review: South Park Snow Day is anything but a reason to be glad school’s out

south park snow day

Much like the TV show, South Park videogames are hit and miss. For every The Stick of Truth there’s a South Park 64 to even things out. And sadly, it’s no different with South Park Snow Day, THQ Nordic’s first attempt at doing something with the license, as it’s one of the weakest games I’ve played so far this year.

As its name implies, the game takes place during a snow day in the Colorado town of South Park. The kids are overjoyed to be free of school and back to their antics as they are once again taking their fantasy roles from the previous game, the battle between the elves and humans. The rules are different now, though, because, according to Cartman, *some* kid got way too OP last time. We’re now dealing with a semi-open world affair with level-based progression and a whole lot of repetition.

You once again step into the shoes of said kid, the new in town, who along with three other boys in the same situation – either actual humans or bots – get to slash and shoot your way out of seemingly endless waves of samey enemies in order to fulfill a number of painfully simple, borderline 2004 era MMO objectives. That is to say you’ll be doing a whole lot of fetching and ‘killing all’ of. Those pretty much sum up the main problem with South Park Snow Day: it’s just not fun to play because of its extreme repetition. 

While the idea of having free reign to explore South Park might sound enticing, the shift to 3D seems to have killed.any sense of uniqueness that it possessed in the previous games, which is ironic since the game pretty much begins with cutscenes that play out in the classic art style. It’s only when gameplay begins that it shifts to the drab visuals from screenshots. The world boils down to nameless geometry having little to do with actual South Park outside of a few barely recognizable key points of reference like the school. Due to that, none of the charm that’s inherent to the cartoon is used to any effect in Snow Day which is plain baffling.

south park snow day
Kyle and Eric are at eachother’s throat as the leaders of the two factions at war during Snow Day.

Then there’s the moment to moment gameplay. Even with other people along for the ride, Snow Day moves at the pace of a zamboni, but even if it happened to be quicker, I don’t think it would matter, since it’s all just so boring. There’s no better way to describe this game than that, a mundane experience that just happens to be tied to a popular franchise such as Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s creation. Encounters are watered down brawls where you only have a few attack choices that do little to change the fact that it’s all way too mindless and simple.

Few mechanics are thrown in to try and add some spice in the form of Bullshit calls, which are game-altering cards each side of the conflict picks before each mission. They can be anything from falling debris on the opposition to taking away their ranged attacks, and as funny as the name might make these out to be, they simply aren’t much but extremely crude modifiers that only add more obstacles in your way, basically multiplying the annoyance that it is carving your way through the many, MANY painfully basic fights. Aside from these, you can also add and upgrade buffs during missions by spending toilet paper you collect as you run across town, but in similar fashion, they don’t do much to what’s a structurally bad game.

In a similar way to The Simpsons – quite ironically, I would add, since Comedy Central’s show is always aping on it – South Park as a brand has definitely seen better days. Long ago were the days when the show really mattered, delivering its signature dry, witty and dirty humor we couldn’t help but laugh along with. Nearly thirty years after its inception, with now bonafide adults that have grown up watching, it’s more like something you’d be more surprised to hear it’s still a thing.

south park snow day
Get used to fighting smaller children dressed as elves. It’s about all you’ll be doing in this game.

And that’s a real shame considering that there’s something good to take away from it when it comes to videogames when they’re as well developed as the Obsidian ones, The Stick of Truth and The Fractured But Whole where the humor and art style, elements that are what make South Park what it is, into account first and foremost, interweaving entertaining gameplay for good measure. It’s no wonder those games are looked back so fondly by both fans of the source material and games alike.

South Park Snow Days just lacks that staying power. It’s a game that you’ll quickly forget it ever existed, and whenever the subject of South Park videogames pops up, it’ll probably ever pop up long after other similarly terrible games are remembered. Even those had some manner of redeeming albeit dubious qualities – such as the fact that South Park 64 is one of Nintendo 64’s games with the most spoken dialogue samples, ripped straight out of the show – I can’t think of anything in that manner about this one.

While it may sound like I’m beating on South Park Snow Day for the sake of being mean, trust me, I’m not. Even that other game got at least a teensy bit of the tone right, which isn’t at all a plus that can be carved out of the awfulness that this one entails. It’s in many ways an example of a cash-in attempting to try and get the few remaining fans of the franchise into buying it.

South Park Snow Day is passable at best. If you’ve enjoyed the show at any point and are looking to see its characters and setting depicted in game form, you’ll be much better served by what came before it in RPG form. Those are excellent examples of how to carry a property through different media while maintaining its identity and still be fun and worthy of your valuable time on this Earth.

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