Undertale

2D & 3D games and game mod discussion. No adult content, please.

Undertale

Postby Adul » Mon Apr 18, 2016 6:19 pm

No, wait, don't shoot! I'm not a rabid fan, I promise! Please, hear me out.

Chances are, if you make a habit of visiting Reddit, DeviantArt, YouTube, Tumblr, or any other website frequented by a lot of young gamers, you've heard of Undertale. And chances are, if you've heard of Undertale, you're sick of hearing about it. Believe me, I get it. And while Undertale is probably not the greatest game ever made overshadowing every other human achievement of the last millennium, its reputation is not wholly undeserved.

For the uninitiated, Undertale is an old-school RPG created by Toby Fox, in which you play as a kid of undefined age and gender who falls into a hole in the ground and finds themselves in an underground kingdom of monsters. A lot of people compare the game to Earthbound, which I haven't played so I can't say how accurate the comparison is. But I can tell you what I found out about Undertale by playing it: it's cleverly tactful. It focuses heavily on characters and dialog, but not at the expense of gameplay. It subverts your expectations, but doesn't come across as pretentious. Its tone is wildly varied, but not in a jarring way. It's at times cute, funny, touching, serious, deep, sad, mysterious, sinister, exhilarating, and it all works.

I think the theme that is most prominent in Undertale is choice. That's not to say the game features a widely varied array of player paths and a hundred different endings, it's a bit more subtle than that. While the game is overall fairly linear in terms of locations you'll visit and characters you'll encounter, there are small choices to make in almost everything you do, and these choices matter. Take combat, for example. The vast majority of enemies you encounter in the game can be defeated in multiple ways. These ways typically include killing your foe, weakening them to the point where they surrender, befriending them, humiliating them, etc. Violence vs. pacifism is another prominent theme, and needless to say, these choices have far-reaching consequences.

The combat is fairly unique in other ways as well. It's turn-based JRPG combat with an added twist: enemy attacks manifest as short bullet hell mini-games where your performance determines the amount of damage you take (or don't take) from the attack. These are surprisingly fun and varied, with every different type of monster having their own uniquely themed attacks and each having multiple types of attacks as well. Bosses usually take longer to defeat, and they have a wide number of different attacks to keep you on your toes during the fight. Boss fights in Undertale are incredibly fun, by the way. They're challenging and at times very hard, but not unfair. There's a fine line between fun and frustration, and I've crossed it many times while playing this game. It's great. :biggrin:

The story and characters are evidently light, but they have a hidden layer of depth to them that only reveals itself to you if you decide to scratch the surface. They're compelling and memorable, and after a while it felt like I knew these fictional people (well, monsters) for a long time and I could consider them friends. (Which might also explain the rabid attachment one could notice in the game's fanbase.) Admittedly, there's some melodrama to be had at a couple points in the game, but by the time I got to these I was invested enough not to care and just be able to enjoy the cheese.

The replay value is something that's been clearly put effort into during development, in fact, I'd argue it's an integral feature of the game. Those choices I mentioned earlier, they make this one of those gaming "experiences" I keep hearing about. When I first beat the game, I had to go back to see what would happen if I did this instead of that, and what about that encounter? Would that be gone completely? Or maybe replaced with something else? You get the idea. What I found was the game got a somewhat self-aware and it seemed like it was always a step ahead of me, even though I've already played it. Eventually the fourth wall was gone, and the game got all existential on me. Well played, Undertale. Well played.

I cannot stop typing until I mention the game's soundtrack. It does an excellent job of enhancing the emotions you're supposed to feel throughout the game. Not only that, it's incredibly catchy - I still listen to it weeks after beating the game, and won't stop for a while yet. If you decide to get Undertale, I recommend buying the soundtrack edition.

Anyway, as you may recall, I started off this post by telling you I wasn't a rabid fan, and at this point I'm not so sure that's true anymore. But honestly, it's hard to find faults in this game, as it does so much right. I have to stretch my mind to find any problems with it, and even then I can only think of things that were just a little bit off. Like maybe the graphics are not stylized enough / are a little simple. Or while the game is not exactly short, I wish it was longer. Does that count as a fault? I don't know, I should probably stop. I just realized my rabidity status is only getting worse.

Whatever. Buy it, play it. It's good.
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Adul
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