Undertale Review

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If you weren’t living under a rock during the latter part of 2015 then you are likely to have heard about Undertale. Whether you heard the endless praise from critics and fans alike, or you encountered one of the many memes that have erupted from the game and its community, Undertale was, and still is, one of the most talked about games in recent months. Heck, you can’t even walk a few steps through the Plaza in Splatoon without being greeted by Miiverse posts depicting characters and scenes from Undertale, oddly enough. It is fair to say that Undertale has gained cult status, and the amount of passion that has been shown for the game by critics and fans definitely had me intrigued to play myself.

I’ll start by how I mean to end this piece. Go play this game! I truly believe that there is something for everyone in this game. From the gameplay itself with its intuitive combat system and entertaining puzzles, to one of the most genuine, heartfelt stories, filled with excellently written characters. I honestly haven’t experienced a game so evocative in a good while, and to top it all off it has the most fantastic soundtrack that I can say with certainty is the video game soundtrack of 2015, maybe even the last five years, in my eyes. Seriously, even if you feel you aren’t interested in playing Undertale, listen to some of the pieces of music on YouTube, it may just change your mind.

The story of Undertale takes place in a world where monsters and humans, who had once lived together on the surface, has been torn apart by war, leading the monsters to be banished underground and the entry to the surface sealed by magic. You take on the role of a child who has fallen underground whilst traversing the fabled Mt. Ebott. It is your goal to find your way out of the underground and back to the surface. However, as it is filled with monsters you are going to have to fight your way through. Or, are you? Met by the kind monster Toriel at the beginning, you learn that as well as the option to Fight the monsters you encounter, you also have the option to Act, which can lead to some of the most hilarious interactions.

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If you enjoy dark humour, there is plenty to be found in Undertale.

The reason you have the option to Act is that picking the right options will allow you to spare the monsters. Unlike some games, where morality can feel tacked on, the decisions you make in Undertale will drastically alter the story. You can take three routes, the neutral route, the pacifist route, or the genocide route. These routes are self-explanatory, however the vast difference in the story depending on which route you decide to take is quite hard to convey without spoiling. All I can say is that I was astonished at how much depth had been added to the story playing through the pacifist route after initially completing the neutral route. It took me around 7 hours to complete my first playthrough and I was immediately compelled to start all over again to initiate the true ending which can only be seen by completing a true pacifist run.

Like your typical RPG, Undertale features an experience points system to level up the protagonist. However, if playing as a pacifist you won’t receive any experience points from battling, only gold. This adds a huge degree of challenge as having a low health pool of 20 can prove quite troublesome in some of the later boss fights. Speaking of, the degree of variation in fighting bosses is interesting as each have unique battle systems implemented. The fighting system in Undertale features a box that hovers above your menu where you must tap Z when a moving line lands in the center of this box to initiate your attack. After this the monster will retaliate with their own attack which sees you control a heart icon and play a minigame of sorts, ranging vastly from every monster you meet, and particularly amongst the bosses. For example, fighting the sassy skeleton Papyrus will have you using the arrow buttons to make your heart jump over obstacles made from bones. Later on you will meet the brash knight Undyne, whose battle feels like playing a music rhythm game. This variation will keep you on your toes in every battle.

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I can’t decide whether it looks like an eye or a canoe.

The majority of the bosses you will get to know quite well, through interacting both inside and outside of battle, which can create difficult decisions in how you want to end the fight. The characters have been written extremely well, and getting to know them throughout the game will make you feel a range of emotions. What really shines through each character though is their comedic aspect. There are some brilliant pieces of dialogue from the characters and its easy to see how they have become such huge memes.

What also sets Undertale apart from many RPG’s is its self awareness. Many fans have lauded instances in the game where it breaks the fourth wall, and it manages to come across as very meta with its self awareness of typical RPG tropes, and even topics of the wider gaming community. This is a hard thing to achieve without it falling flat, or being overdone, but Undertale has just the right amount and without it, many of its characters would lose a lot of their charm.

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Reading signs is not a monotonous chore in Undertale.

Undertale is a fantastic RPG that is captivating from the get go. The soundtrack is absolutely brilliant and the characters are lovable, both of which I will fondly remember for years to come. I’m sure this will be one of the games I will always come back to for some good old classic fun in the future. I really can’t stress enough how great this game is, and to do so anymore would inevitably lead me to spoiling it. You really don’t have any excuse if you haven’t played this yet, as it quite low spec so can be run on most average laptops and desktops, and a single playthrough can be done in a day if you don’t have much time on your hands.

Have you played Undertale? Let me know your thoughts in the comments. Thanks for reading!

 

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My Hearth(stone) will go on!

So I’ve found myself using bits of spare time between going to uni and doing uni work to play Hearthstone, specifically arenas. I kept putting myself off playing for a while, convincing myself that my absence would have left me unadapted to the new meta. However, a few rounds of arena throughout the week led to a 9 streak win today and a few golden rare cards added to my collection. I will admit that some of these wins were helped by the ever-giving RNJesus, including one of the luckiest top decks I think I have ever drawn.

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Who knew my prayers/crossed fingers would actually pay off!

By playing Hearthstone this week after a long break from it, it has confirmed to me that it is one of those games that doesn’t lose its appeal, and even if you think you may have become unadapted to the current meta, with some basic understanding of the games mechanics you may surprise yourself how well you play, and how much you enjoy it.

First Impressions: Hearthstone: Goblins Vs. Gnomes

Thanks to Blizzard, Hearthstone players have been lucky enough to get to grips with the brand new expansion, Goblins Vs. Gnomes, 4-5 days earlier (depending on your region). Albeit only accessible through playing arena mode, players can experience playing with a large selection of the brand new cards that will be available for purchase with either in game gold or your own money. Another great perk to this early access is that Blizzard have been kind enough to gift all players a free arena pass so that everyone can get a feel for the new cards.

For my free arena run, I chose to play as a Priest. There were some great new cards available to choose, including some Priest specific cards like the Shrinkmeister. Unfortunately for me, I read its battlecry as “Give a minion +2 attack this turn” rather than what it was “Give a minion -2 attack this turn” leading to me reducing a haunted creeper’s attack to 0 and missing a turn. Despite making this silly mistake at first, in later games I found the card to be a useful way of reducing an opponent minion’s attack so that I could clear it with one of my own minions and take minimal damage.

Some new cards have interesting combos that make game play a breath of fresh air. For example, I found the Arcane Nullifier X-21 very useful as it is a taunt minion that cannot be targeted by spells or hero powers which sometimes made it tricky for the opponent to clear. The Lil’ Exorcist card is also useful, a taunt minion that gains +1/+1 for every deathrattle minion the opponent has on the board. However, its usefulness depends on the opponents use of deathrattle minions, nevertheless its not bad for a 3 mana card, gaining a taunt minion with 2/3.

One card that I found most useful in my run was the Bomb Lobber. Although it has low health and attack for a 5 mana card (3/3), its battlecry “deal 4 damage to a random enemy minion” was great in the late game for dealing with the opponents’ higher health minions. I also liked the Piloted Shredder card as it can be great value if its deathrattle of putting a random 2 drop card on the board brings in a powerful 2 drop.

Overall, I’m very impressed with this first look at the new expansion which will add a whole new dimension of fun and strategy to an already incredible game.

Oh so salty!

Since the internet was installed in my new house on Wednesday, I’ve grabbed every opportunity I could to play Hearthstone. I’ve been playing Hearthstone since the beta and I still enjoy it very much. However, recently I have been finishing a session and feeling rather salty about it.

With the introduction of Curse of Naxxramas it has undeniably added a whole new and fun perspective to the game. However, if you are a poor student like myself, finding the line between funding the necessities and entertainment understandably leads to spending on living costs. As much as Hearthstone is labelled a ‘Free to Play’ game, the game is much more entertaining and fulfilling when you have access to a wider range of cards, and this is hard to achieve without spending some cold hard cash. There are some big names in the Hearthstone world, such as Itshafu, who have a wide array of cards and claim that this has all been funded by the in game gold that can be earned through Daily Quests, Arena runs and general play. This is hard to dispute as by watching them live stream you can see that they are skilled enough to achieve big wins and therefore, big in game gold rewards.

I would consider myself a pretty average player and by having 9 months of play experience under my belt I believe I have a good knowledge of the game’s mechanics and so forth. However, it comes back to card disadvantage. I have not spent any real money on anything in the game and somehow managed to buy two wings of Naxx with in game gold I had saved up. This means that I haven’t got the greatest amount of cards at my disposal and so playing either casual or ranked is a task trying to win as my custom decks are a mismatch of what little I can create. It doesn’t help that the majority of players you come across in these matches are suited and booted with some of the best cards that make winning that much easier. Obviously, it also comes down to skill playing Hearthstone, but the nature of the game is ‘luck of the draw’ since after all it is a card game.

There has been some good news in the Blizzard universe this week with the upcoming ‘nerf’ of the cards Leeroy Jenkins and Starving Buzzard, which when combined with Unleash the Hounds on a Hunter, can be extremely aggravating to deal with. Still, I assume that for a good while I will be stuck in a vicious circle of completing daily quests, completing an average or worse arena run, and then starting all again once I have run out of gold, in the hopes that I will someday get some cards that could turn the whole play experience around. Either that or I will eventually cave and spend real money when I eventually find the funds to.