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South Park: Snow Day! Preview: Comedy Co-Op With a Side of Bullshit and Farts

The three most important things to know about South Park: Snow Day are 1) that it's a roguelike-inspired battle game rather than an RPG, 2) it's 3D rather than 2D, and 3) the South Park TV show supplied over 50 different fart sound effects for use in the game. We went hands-on with the multiplayer spin-off ahead of its March 26 release and, full disclosure, got our asses handed to us by Stan and his elves.

Head into the snowy landscapes of the South Park streets and the reason for the 3D upgrade is obvious, allowing for the type of chaotic action that the previous South Park games could only dream of. Playing as New Kid, you can team up with three friends, or bots if you have social anxiety, to do Hades-like runs through different areas of the town, taking on waves of enemies and the odd boss battle with a combination of a melee weapon, ranged weapon, two special powers - like Hurry-Cane that grants a whirlwind attack - and the brilliantly named Bullshit powers. These will reset every run, but any character perks you've bought with Dark Matter and character cosmetics will persist. Think screaming at your friend for a health totem (a bag of Cheesy Poofs tied to a stick) as Princess Kenny tries to charm you with weaponized hearts, or levitating through the power of farts to get away from a cluster of foes. It's chaos, all punctuated with Cartman calling you out when you suck, and the sound of little kids (voiced by actual children) cussing and shouting as the battle.

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The only yellow snow spots in the fun drift were that the movement had a sort of floaty feeling that took me a while to get used to, and as a result I couldn't take advantage of the higher ground or trampoline pads without risking missing my target. The bosses we saw were tough too, Stan - as his elf warrior alter ego - had a vicious thorny vine attack that meant I just couldn't get near him. They're the kind of issues that fade away when you've had more than a few hours with a game, but time will tell if my Cartman-esque temper can handle it.

Snow much fun

Underneath the simple premise, four players, rouge-like runs, and arenas packed with areas to gain the advantage, there's an extra level of depth – all delivered with biting South Park wit. The Bullshit powers are a great twist on any kid's tendency to start making up spurious rules when they're playing any kind of pretend game. In Snow Day that scenario is managed with Bullshit cards that bestow hugely OP but seriously rationed powers on your character. Overseen by Paladin Butters, you get to choose one upgrade card and one Bullshit card before every run. There's one BS card you can use twice that gives you laser eyes, or the "Radioactive God" BS card that has three uses and makes your team emit fumes to gross out your enemies. To mix things up even more, Henrietta the Goth can be found around the levels with a set of Tarot cards that will let you tweak the way your upgrades for that run work. Basically, it's going to be hard to make a run feel the same way twice, even if you're really trying. As someone who is a tank that likes to hit things with melee weapons, the Bullshit cards feel like a win for me. It's easy for roguelikes to get a bit samey when you're just bashing everything in sight, but it's impossible to get bored of that when you know you've got the power to call up a meteor storm or an actual vampire in your back pocket. The cards themselves look freaking neat too, and if there was an IRL physical version I'd happily dip into my collectibles fund for them.

As you make it through Snow Day there are three types of currency to collect: toilet paper, Dark Matter, and PP. Apart from its usual uses, in South Park: Snow Day toilet paper can be spent to beef up the power of your upgrade cards or re-roll your choices, with Jimmy the Bard as your friendly shopkeeper. Platinum Pieces have to be earned through gameplay progression and conquering certain challenges but will unlock new cosmetics and emotes to keep your New Kid looking fresh. And Dark Matter - a strange substance somehow tied to the endless blizzard affecting the town - is the most important of the three. It's what you'll use between runs to buy perks and jack up your speed, stamina, health, and strength stats. I'm not a careful player in any gaming scenario so the fact that Dark Matter perks I've bought (and cosmetics like chin balls) persist between runs is important, and can stop repeated attempts at a level feeling like a hard day at the office.

Stay frosty

The setup could easily have made for a classic South Park episode. Arctic conditions mean the kids get time off school to stage Dungeons and Dragons-style battles, but as the snow drags on and you fight through the campaign you'll find that this is no ordinary weather event. While a lot of the characters like Professor Chaos and Wizard Cartman might be familiar from Stick of Truth and The Fractured but Whole, Snow Day swaps the narrative heft of the RPG for a combat caper you can play over and over again with friends. That doesn't mean you won't get plenty of South Park laughs as you maul your enemies, but think of the campaign as more of an episode of the show, rather than a movie like the aforementioned RPGs. The plan is for more content to be added over time, too, something that the structure of the RPGs made difficult, but here presents the compelling opportunity for the game to reflect what's happening in the TV show. I'd love to see the same crazy, up-to-the-minute cultural comedy find a way into the game, the right care and attention could keep Snow Day feeling fresh long after you've burned through the main storyline.

As for that new look, yes Cartman has more junk in his trunk, but after five minutes it just looks normal, and you'll be too busy dodging swipes from a weaponized road sign to build up any South Park Purist rage about it. In some sort of beautiful, poop joke-fuelled meta-universe it kind of feels like the sort of game Cartman, Kenny, Kyle, and Stan would get obsessed with. Its longevity won't become clear until the game is released on March 26, but right now we can all be safe in the knowledge that the South Park soul lives on in Snow Day.

Rachel Weber is IGN's Managing Editor.

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