Leave it to the creators of South Park to work outrageously offensive social commentary into South Park: The Fractured But Whole. When players choose a difficulty in the upcoming video game, the slider adjusts the color of the character’s skin. The darker their complexion, the more difficult the gaming experience will be. Playing as a person of color is the only way to play a harder version of the game.
Originally reported by Eurogamer Thursday, a character creation video seemingly confirms that a character’s race is altered as a player selects their difficulty setting.
In the role-playing experience of The Fractured But Whole, you play as The New Kid in a total mockery of Captain America: Civil War. You build your own hero by choosing from 12 superhero classes and pick sides: Cartman’s “Coon and Friends” or the Freedom Pals. As you struggle to choose between classes like Speedster, Elementalist, and Gadgeteer, you can also choose to adjust the difficulty.
During the difficulty selection process, Cartman himself assures players, “Don’t worry, this doesn’t affect combat. Just every other aspect of your whole life.” The very obvious point they’re trying to make here is that much like in real life, race can be a contributor to any number of social difficulties, ones that will be dramatized in narrative of the game.
According to Eurogamer, a character’s race in The Fractured But Whole will influence how much money they receive and how they’re treated by other characters in the game. But they aren’t the only new factors that might also influence how a player is treated.
Unlike the previous South Park game — The Stick of Truth — players can opt to play as female or transgender in The Fractured But Whole instead of being limited to a cis male character.
Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the two creators and writers of everything South Park, no doubt had a hand in creating these options for players as a way to tease our expectations surrounding societal norms.
Are they trying piss people off with this kind of social commentary? Definitely. Does South Park have an iffy track record when it comes to following through on its most shocking jokes? Sure. But, is this also a largely accurate, biting critique of American culture? Definitely.
Even though it’s a video game, South Park is still South Park after all.
South Park: The Fractured But Whole comes out on October 17, 2017 on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.
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