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.
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.
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.
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!