Reading this well thought out review of Undertale fills you with determination.
Undertale is a weird yet wonderful RPG all created from the singular vision of Toby Fox. His creation became immensely popular after securing 10 times the budget he was aiming for on indie gogo. It starts out like a standard adventure game in which you inadvertently arrive in a world full of monsters. After the initial cutscene it subverts the RPG genre. It then keeps on subverting the genre in such an absurd way it’s the reason you keep on playing.
Its kooky characters and basic presentation provides some of the games charm while the battle system allowing you to either kill your enemies, or spare them by tapping into what makes them tick by selecting a dialogue option. If you act in a way that an enemy doesn’t like the enemies attacks will be harder to avoid, you’ll have to navigate this little heart shaped icon which appears when facing an enemy, with more skill and accuracy. Simply put the fights are puzzles which is why there’ll be no examples of enemy encounters in this review to avoid spoiling the puzzles.
One RPG cliche that should probably have been ditched or reimagined is random encounters especially early on in the game where little thought goes into enemies if you try to spare them. This game doesn’t require any grinding either especially if you choose to become a pacifist due to your level not increasing when you spare enemies. Sparing enemies reminds me a lot of the ‘choose your own path’ storybooks that I used to be able to read in my library when I was at school. Other RPG’s with million dollar budgets have done this branching story path before but the games simple graphics really allowed me to use my imagination making it feel like reading a book.
The lack of emphasis on presentation allows Undertale to tell it’s truly unique story which has so many potential outcomes its possible some haven’t been discovered yet and the game has been out for a few years now. This amount of story depth was also not expected from a game with a seemingly basic art style.Toby Fox has crammed so many kooky and creepy secrets in this game which I shan’t spoil because the game blackmails you into not sharing what they are. These little story beats are what makes Undertale a game that has become so memorable in both it’s humour, and to some trauma, which soared it into the mainstream.
Fox is a very skilled writer creating these crazy and likeable characters from the get go. Characters such as Sans and Papyrus are so well loved now you can get plush toys of them on Undertale’s website. Pretty soon they’ll be an Undertale theme park. The thing I find most amusing with Undertale is that there is so much weirdness going on around you but the design of the protagonist just has this expressionless face throughout the entire the game. Something that really struck accord with me was the music. I’m a sucker for great video game soundtracks and this renaissance man Toby Fox also composed the entire soundtrack too. It really ignited a strange sense of nostalgia for me despite this being the first time playing. Overall your mileage will vary with Undertale depending on how much time you want to sink into the endless amount of multiple outcomes.
If there is one thing Undertale proves is that there is no need for a big budget to create an expansive world with lots of law. You don’t need to sell your soul to a massive game corporation to get your game ideas out there. Toby Fox’s personality is all over this game. There probably isn’t any other game out there that champions the indie game ideology like Undertale.
Undertale is available to download on Steam (PC or Mac) for £6.99 and for PS4 and PSVita for £11.99. Undertale is also coming out soon for the Nintendo Switch.
Undertale has been awarded the following badges: