The Stick of Truth: Finished

Suppose you have two weapons. One hits for 100 points once per turn, the other hits for 20 points five times per turn. They seem equivalent, right? But if you find a socketable weapon upgrade item that makes each hit do 5 more points, weapon B gets more mileage out of it than weapon A does. On the other hand, if you find an upgrade that makes a weapon do one additional hit per turn, weapon A is the clear winner.

Considerations like these occupied a surprisingly large portion of my time playing The Stick of Truth. With factors like elemental damage, damage reduction, status effects, and so forth, the math of combat is elaborate enough that one piece of equipment usually isn’t obviously better than another at a similar level. And the game keeps throwing new equipment at you! A major quest can give you multiple entire outfits to choose from, in addition to all the items you can buy from stores.

And the thing is, by the end, it’s kind of irrelevant. I developed a dominant strategy: at the start of each fight, I’d have the PC and Kyle both use their costliest skills, which do massive damage to all enemies. For most non-boss-fights, that was enough to end matters without even using a weapon at all. But I suspect that pretty much any strategy you choose would work in the end. It’s not a difficult game. In fact, it’s so not-difficult, I managed to basically miss out on an entire major mechanic, because I confused Power Points (used in special abilities) with Mana (used exclusively for farts), and thought for most of the game that I couldn’t afford to use fart attacks in combat. Farts, in addition to providing powerful attacks, have the particular virtue that they interrupt enemies in the act of preparing spells. But it didn’t matter. I survived without being able to do that.

Nonetheless, the game tries to motivate you to collect all the outfits and weapons just by keeping track of them in a “Collectibles” menu, and awarding an Achievement for filling in all the spots in that menu. It does a similar thing with the Chinpokomon figurines scattered around the town, and which don’t seem to have any relevance to the game beyond collection for collection’s sake. Making friends is also treated as a collection game, although this time it’s one that unlocks combat perks.

Now, I realize not everyone feels like this, but I’m into collection for collection’s sake. And this game, like many modern games, is polite enough to let completists like me continue playing after the final boss is defeated and the credits have rolled. But, despite some twinges, I don’t think I’ll take the bait. Collecting all the outfits would require grinding for cash, and that’s something I just don’t feel like doing. The game has been blessedly grind-free otherwise; simply making progress in the story provided me enough XP that combat became too easy to be interesting.

Plus, there’s thousands of other games out there waiting to be played. Let’s try another one.

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