South Park: The Fractured but Whole's difficulty slider changes the colour of your skin

"Don't worry, this doesn't affect combat. Just every other aspect of your whole life."

By Wesley Yin-Poole. Published 7 September 2017

Ubisoft's comedy RPG South Park: The Fractured but Whole features various levels of difficulty, from easy to very difficult, much like most games. What's different though is the difficulty affects the colour of your character's skin.

During the character creation section of the game, which you can see in the video below (skip to the five minutes and 40 seconds mark), you select the difficulty of the game. What's interesting is the easier the difficulty, the lighter your character's skin. Conversely, the harder the difficulty, the darker your character's skin. It means if you want to play The Fractured but Whole on a harder than normal difficulty, you have to play as a person of colour.

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During the process, South Park stalwart Eric Cartman will comment: "Don't worry, this doesn't affect combat. Just every other aspect of your whole life."

Our Aoife Wilson and Chris Bratt, who captured the gameplay in the video, asked Ubisoft developers about this feature during a recent hands-on event. They were told the difficulty of the game affects the amount of money you receive and the way other characters speak to you throughout the course of the game. It is, quite clearly, a social commentary on racism in modern society, and as far as video games go, a pretty effective one.

Later in the game, The Fractured but Whole asks you to choose your character's gender. In a conversation with South Park school counsellor Mr Mackey (the "drugs are bad MKAY" guy), you must choose from three options: male, female and other. In previous South Park game A Stick of Truth, you had to play as a boy.

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Our Aoife and Chris picked female. Mr Mackey ums and ahs before calling your parents, who reinforce the decision.

It turns out, if you pick a non-male character, Ubisoft will use the conversation with Mr Mackey as a smart retconning of The Stick of Truth.

"So the whole King and Stick of Truth thing, she was actually a girl the entire time?"

Mr Mackey then asks you to clarify exactly what you mean by a girl. You're then asked to select whether you identify as cisgender or transgender.

Aoife and Chris picked transgender, and Mr Mackey once again calls your parents. "It still tracks with The Stick of Truth, yes it does. She was definitely a girl the whole time. Yes of course. I get it."

You can see all this play out in the video below, from the 44 minute mark.

So there you have it. South Park the video game very much reflecting the tone and approach of South Park the TV show.

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