Undertale Game Review

“There’s more than one way to win a game. You can win without fighting!” – Sora from No Game No Life

Undertale is an indie darling from Toby Fox, a single person… that is amazing. The game was released for PC and Mac in September of 2015, and was ported to PS4 and PS Vita in August of 2017.

 

Characters

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Protagonist is a child that fell into a hole and arrived in world of monsters. He has to leave the underground to get back home. But how much are you willing to do to get home?

 

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Flowey is the first character you meet in the game, and this thing constantly judges your actions. This flower appears several times throughout the story to nudge you to embrace your violent tendencies.

 

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Papyrus is just the best.

 

Story

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Humans and monsters had a war and humans won, sealing the monsters beneath the ground. And for a long time the two remained separated.

Then a young child travels to the mountain and falls into a hole, into the realm of monsters.

 

Gameplay

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Unlike most RPG combat which are based on arbitrary numbers, Undertale uses more motor skill based mechanic to determine how much damage you deal and take. When enemies are attacking you, the game becomes bullet-hell for like 3 seconds. Depending on who you are fighting, this section can become platforming, essay questions, or Space Invaders.

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When it is your turn to attack, you play this time based mini game. This is how you find out how much damage you do.

 

the Bad

I wish there was more customization with the controls. The game uses the arrow keys for movement and Enter and Shift for Confirm and Cancel. I wanted to map it to WASD, but that was not an option. This is a minor detraction as I got used to the controls quickly, but I wish the option was there.

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I am not sure if I mentioned this before, but my worst game genre of all time is 2D platforming and bullet-hell… so that means the combat in this game was not my cup of tea, especially since I wanted to get the best ending so those were almost the entire combat section.

 

the Good

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If you’ve wanted a morality system that has more consequences than the usual two extreme endings, you will be happy to hear Undertale definitely has that. If you want to get the True Pacifist Ending, you CANNOT kill ANYONE in the game. That means you will have exactly 0 EXP points and your HP will not go beyond 20. In a way, more punishing than BioShock’s morality system. Not only the ending, the story and how the NPCs treat you in the game will also change depending on your acts of violence against the creatures of the underground.

One of my favorite things about gaming is when they tell narrative through mechanics. What I mean by this is stories are not delivered through cut scenes and dialogues, but by game play, think Papers Please. There was a fight in the game, and neither the opponent nor I wanted to harm the other. As this got more and more convincing to each other, the enemy attack starts missing, and I knew the mood had shifted. And it was all done through the gameplay.

 

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The atmosphere in this game is freaking fantastic. Its adorable and very creepy at the same time.

 

One of the things Undertale is unique for is how much things are done behind the scenes. The game remembers what you do, even if you don’t save and reload the game. Things you do will not be forgotten and this does get explored in the narrative of the game.

 

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Gameplay wise, I was surprised how flexible the combat was. During the enemy phase, you have to dodge enemy attacks like you were playing a bullet hell game. But depending on your enemy, the conditions will differ, some attacks only hurt you if you move. Then sometimes this part switches to a platformer and now you have to jump around to dodge attacks.

 

Music is fantastic in this game. I go back and forth with my brother on which of the music is our favorites. For me, it’s usually between Papyrus’ theme or Spider Dance… but Undyne’s theme is good too… so it Mettaton’s…. so is the opening…. see what I mean.

 

Verdict

  • Will I play this again? YES. This is one of the most enjoyable game I’ve played in awhile. I was so attached to almost every character in the game. I had to see what happens next and I was hellbent on getting the best ending. It was damn worth it.
  • Do I recommend it? Yes. While I don’t think this is the best game ever, nor even my favorite RPG, this was a damn good game. The gameplay is an unique blend of different genres and the moral choices carry heavy weight in both story and mechanics.

 

Final Thoughts

Undertale was one of the few games I had really high hopes for prior to play. I always want games I play to be great, but I try not to get my hopes up. Undertale however, went above and beyond for me story wise and how much I came to love the inhabitants of the underground.

This is not my favorite RPG, but this is an unique game that I will always remember. Undertale will be a new standard for me in measuring games’ moral choices and how that affects the game.

I enjoyed the freaking hell out of this, I might get a copy for the Vita.

Gihoon

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