Tuesday, March 26, 2024.
by Chad Goodmurphy

SOUTH PARK: SNOW DAY! Box art After two great 2D role playing games, the folks at South Park Digital Studios decided to go in a different direction with their next licensed game. First, they stopped working with Ubisoft as publisher. Next, they joined forces with developer, Question, and THQ Nordic, to create what is likely the first 3D South Park game since the N64 days. The result was South Park: Snow Day!; a game that doesn’t do the license too many favours.

Things begin with a pretty lengthy cutscene that looks just like an episode of the show, and could’ve been. In it, Eric Cartman prays for a snow day while watching the news with his mother. Despite seeing people frozen to death, and hearing that his hometown has been pummeled with more snow than ever before seen, Eric is overjoyed and very hopeful. He doesn’t care about the catastrophe at play. All he wants is a day off from school.

God, or something else, listens to Cartman’s prayers and delivers the highly coveted day away from physical schooling, though the kids are kind of, sort of, expected to do remote learning. They, of course, shun it in favour of heading outside and playing more imaginary games. In fact, they kind of pick up the narrative from The Stick of Truth, as there are elves, magic dealers and Cartman donning his high wizard costume. Meanwhile, Kenny is a Japanese princess once again.

Snow Day! isn’t an RPG, though, and is, instead, a cooperative hack n’ slash with tons and tons of enemies. Cartman’s backyard acts as your hub, and from there you can select chapters, set the difficulty, change your build, and buy things like clothing. There, it’s also possible to change one’s weapons (one close combat weapon, like daggers that cause bleeding, a sword and shield or a two-handed axe, and one ranged weapon, with choices including a bow, a wand and a sceptre of sorts) and special powers.

Although there are only six possible weapons to choose from, there are several abilities (or powers) on offer. One lets you rush enemies like a bull, another poisons their minds with cat urine, a third creates a snowball shooting tower, and another lets you plant a totem that heals those nearby. The latter is downright essential, especially if you’re playing solo.

The idea behind this game is that you’ll want to replay with different weapons and powers, but the problem is that South Park: Snow Day! is never fun. Even somewhat randomized and upgradeable cards, which change things up somewhat, can’t keep it fresh or interesting.

Before you can start one of the title’s five story-based chapters, you’ll be tasked with selecting one card (which can augment your weapons, improve your abilities or make ranged shots emit gas, as examples) and one Bullshit card. These are supposed to cause chaos, but they benefit the enemy leader more than they ever benefit the player. It’s annoying when goes and turns your weapon into a pool noodle, or turn their first grade goons into large brutes or vampires. The player can also become large and stomp foes, summon minions (which never seemed to work properly), emit gas or bring mortars down on enemies, but these powers aren’t as helpful or game changing as what the computer can do.

Along the way, you’ll get to choose, re-draw and/or upgrade cards at checkpoints. Upgrading them costs toilet paper — which is coveted like gold and picked up during gameplay — and increases both their stats and abilities. These cards are lost every time you die or complete a chapter, causing you to have to start from the beginning again, with whichever of the (limited) cards the hands of fate deal you.

Like any other roguelite, the developers hope that players will replay previous chapters to unlock more dark matter (aka. diarrhea), which can be used to unlock around thirty different perks that improve your attacks, health, etc. However, it’s not enjoyable to do so. I’ve unlocked around ten perks so far, and really don’t want to replay anything, but I’ve come up against a wall. The fourth chapter is quite difficult, and I’ve died three times due to cheap things like being swarmed by arrows (which do a lot of damage). It wouldn’t have been such an issue, but I was close to the end of the 40-60 minute run when it last happened, and will have to start over from the beginning the next time I play. There are five chapters in total, and I hope to beat this game, but may need to wait for other human players to do so.

Playing Snow Day! solo isn’t exactly recommended, but you may have difficulty finding friends who are willing to play with you. At this time, I was unable to find anyone else online, so I played what I have with three bot-driven allies. They’re sometimes helpful, but can die easily, and reviving someone requires you to stand in their orbit and wait for the circle to turn white. It moves faster the more allies are nearby, but is often annoying.

Since the combat is primarily close quarters, with lots of incredibly basic hacking and slashing, it can be easy to get overwhelmed by a group of goons. Your ranged attacks seem shockingly weak, for the most part, and don’t make the same kind of impact that the computer’s arrows, spells and mortars do. It doesn’t help that the melee controls are very floaty, and that precision is very difficult to obtain. You will often find yourself hacking away in the wrong direction.

It’s also important to note that each chapter concludes with a boss battle, some of which are pretty cheap. You’ll fight Princess Kenny, as well as some of the other main South Park kids, since you’re essentially doing battle against their armies, like the Marshmen and others. The player character is, of course, the New Kid and get to customize your appearance, clothing and optional cape. Other clothing items can be purchased and equipped in the backyard.

South Park is also known for its dirty jokes and mature content, but this story of a New Kid is shockingly tame. Sure, there have been a couple of moments that made me exclaim, but most of it has had to do with poo. There’s the odd joke, a couple of which are timely, but nothing truly stands out. A lot of the story also seems to be rooted in the early days of South Park mixed with a 2018 episode dealing with Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo being exiled.

It’s almost like this game is a continuation of that episode. Unfortunately for its sake, South Park: Snow Day! Is just too frustrating, cumbersome, basic and repetitive to ever be fun. Despite being a budget priced game, which makes it a bit more palatable, it’s still very hard to recommend.

As mentioned above, this is the series’ first interactive foray into 3D in quite some time. It looks a bit weird, but isn’t bad once you get used to it. However, the town being covered in an overwhelming amount of snow makes it hard to really see much of the locations found in this third-person roguelite.

During my several hours with this game, on both Xbox Series X and Series S, I didn’t experience any crashes or noticeable glitches. For the most part, things ran very smoothly. This isn’t a terribly demanding game, though. Moving on, it’s unsurprising that the voice work is excellent because it’s the same as it is in the show. The music, however, leaves a lot to be desired. So, too, so the sound effects, which are sometimes quiet and sometimes noticeably louder.

In the end, South Park: Snow Day! is a disappointment and a very dated experience overall. This makes it easy to skip without anything of real value being missed. It’s unfortunate, because the last two games were so good, but the decisions that went into changing things up have led to a very forgettable game. One that isn’t fun whatsoever.

**SOUTH PARK: SNOW DAY! was provided by the publisher and reviewed on an Xbox Series X and S**

Overall: 3.1 / 10
Gameplay: 3.0 / 10
Visuals: 5.5 / 10
Sound: 6.0 / 10


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