South Park: Snow Day

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South Park: Snow Day review
Samuel Corey


School's Out

Occasionally Funny

The humour in South Park: Snow Day peaks early, very early. The funniest moment happens in the opening cinematic when Cartman is overjoyed at the fact that a cataclysmic blizzard, which has taken dozens of lives and caused untold property damage, has also cancelled school. It's an amusing selfishness that I'm sure everyone who fervently prayed for a blizzard in their youth and then bitterly lamented the winter weather in adulthood will be able to recognize and laugh at.

Sadly there will not be much room for humour in the course of this game, as the moment-to-moment gameplay will keep the player fully occupied and leave no room for jokes except for the occasional phone call from Cartman telling you to dodge arrows better. It's a shame because when the game does get out of its way and allows itself to be funny, it's just as amusing as always. The brief cut-scenes between levels and before bosses are pleasant, and besides the 3D graphics look and feel exactly like skits from the show.

It compares poorly to earlier South Park titles: The Stick of Truth and Fractured But Whole which did a much better job of integrating the show's humour with their gameplay. Here, for long stretches of combat, you could conceivably forget that you're playing a South Park game, well, at least if you ignore the art style which makes everything look like it has been crudely fashioned from construction paper.

Roguelite Button Masher

The gameplay consists of making your way through various snow-covered suburban environments while battling mobs of enemies. Combat is chaotic, with new waves of enemies often spawning in during the middle of unresolved combats. The abilities of the player and the enemies change from mission to mission thanks to some very light roguelike elements, and the whole thing combines to give a strong impression of childhood games where the rules are constantly being made up and renegotiated as the game progresses.

Given the anarchic combat system, it's not exactly surprising that more than a few annoyances start to crop up as you make your way through the game, with some becoming apparent almost immediately. Most glaring of all is the fact that almost every enemy type (and there is a healthy variety for a game this length) looks almost identical from a distance. Worse still, in the hectic atmosphere of combat, it's even difficult to tell the enemies apart from your allies. Only the Ents (which are three kids standing on each other's shoulders pretending to be a tree), the adults (who turn up in the last couple of levels), and the Bruisers have a unique profile.

Before each level, you have the chance to choose which weapons and special abilities to equip, but these are all horribly unbalanced with certain options being just flat-out better than others. It's especially apparent with the ranged weapons, where after a few attempts at using the bow and staff I just gave up and committed to always taking the magic wand wand with me. It was shorter ranged than the other two but at least it didn't turn me into a sitting duck for enemies every time I tried to use it.

The game can be at times, infuriatingly unfair, as should be expected when the opposing faction can occasionally play a "Bullshit" card that either nerfs your attacks to the point of uselessness or gives the enemy units some ridiculous advantage. The worst one I encountered turned enemy archers from harmless annoyances that could fire every few seconds into the fantasy equivalent of heavy machine gun nests overlooking No Man's Land. Though worse than any of the "bullshit" cards is that one upgrade that gives every enemy an aura of cold that deals damage to your character over time and slows you down.

The unbalanced nature of combat cuts both ways though, as some upgrades you can get as a player are stupidly overpowered. The worst offender I encountered was the Beefcake card that turns every healing item you find into a permanent stat upgrade for your health. By the end of the level, my health bar was ten times its normal maximum and I was free to ignore all attacks that didn't stagger me.

The result is a pretty easy, very low-stakes action game which is fun to while away a few hours on but grows stale very quickly. This is something of an advantage, as the game is incredibly short and you will probably experience everything it has to offer in under ten hours, which is about as long as it could hope to stay interesting. However this fact does make the $30 price tag costlier than it initially seems.

Block Out Some Time First

While the combat might have some uneven moments, the single most frustrating part of the game is that there is no stopping mid-way through a level, even if you are playing solo with all AI bots. So, if you quit out of the game to have dinner or walk your dog you will have to go back to the start of the level. It undermines the game's atmosphere of spontaneous childhood games a bit when I have to block out time on my Google Calendar to actually have enough time to finish a level.

Likewise, if your party is wiped out there are no checkpoints in the level, so you will be sent back to the start. Normally, this isn't much of a problem as the game is not particularly difficult, but there was at least one time when a bug caused my AI companions to not spawn in and I was left facing the full onslaught of the enemy forces. When I was knocked down there was no one around to revive me so I was sent back to the start of the level. To add insult to injury the last thing I heard before the game over screen was Butters reassuring me that somebody would be along to revive me in no time.

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fun score


Combat is pleasantly chaotic, Fun with friends, Quite funny at times


Some weapons and powerups are underwhelming, All the enemies (and allies) look the same, Does not hold up when compared to previous South Park titles.