Ah yes, Undertale, the game that everyone talks about with a ton of hype behind it. It was released in September 2015, and it received a ton of praise, a ton of attention, critical acclaim, even going so far as to being declared the greatest game of all time on GameFAQs during a big poll. That caused a lot of controversy, as those who disagreed with that did start protesting, calling the game overrated, all while swearing and being generally childish and rude. I did not agree with the tone some people had there, but I did see their point. Video games have been in existence for a long time and many have touched the hearts of many people, so for a new game to come along and be declared better than all that seemed… odd. Afterwards a lot of video makers that I follow talked about the game and one of them was going to analyze stuff in the game, putting two whole spoiler warnings into the video, urging people to play the game first, and annoyed, I gave in, bought it and…. huh, I suddenly saw why it’s being declared as the best!
Undertale is the story of a small androgynous human child who climbs a mountain, and ends up falling into a huge underground world inhabited by monsters. This place is seperated from the rest of the world with a magical seal, anybody can get in, but getting out is said to be impossible. This child must now cross through the monster world and find a way to leave this place and return home.
The game takes a lot of inspiration from old classic jRPGs, Earthbound especially (or so I was told, never played Earthbound), all from the music to the graphics, it’s all done in that fashion…. but it still manages to do things very differently. See… the monsters are not mindless beasts who all want to kill you. Well… okay, a lot of them still do, but they do it in a less traditional manner… Touhou style bullet hell!
In this mini game, you (represented by the heart) need to dodge the attacks to not lose health. You’re free to attack the monster, OR use diplomatic actions which are unique to the monster that you oppose. Some may want a hug, others desire distance, maybe they want someone to laugh at their joke, flirt with them, or to flex muscles, it’s all very diverse and there are several ways to approach them. Sometimes it can get tricky, so perhaps weakening the enemy first might make them more willing to listen.
With the hype that this game has, you’ll find a ton of people online who’ll tell you to do a pacifist run, and …. I actually won’t do that. Sure people push the idea that the pacifist ending of the game is canonical, and you should see it, but … the game is short (10-15 hours), play it how you want the first time and then perhaps do a pacifist run the second time. That’s how I see it.
The game delivers some stellar graphics and music (as far as this retro style goes…), but the story here is also amazing. Everything is really deep and meaningful, while not coming off as pretensious, because the game has a delightful sense of humor (4th wall breaking too, and not even in the way you imagine!). Playing the game, discovering more and more with each step, getting to know all the characters… it did make me think of many modern jRPGs that seem to have completely lost track of all the magic that these games can have. I’ve even invented a little game called „What if Undertale was made by Square Enix”, which … is self-explanatory:
-The game would be made in the best graphics possible, but should anyone criticize the game, they’d act as if the graphics were the thing being criticized
-The game’s protagonist would be have a defined gender, and a stereotypical teenage personality (hyperactive or emo), plus a few potential female love interests
-The diplomacy options would not exist, because it would be considered too complicated for the players
-Villains would go into long-winded monologues which will sound really complicated to make them seem smart, but they would not make sense, so players would have an easy time still seeing them as evil, and easy to kill with no regrets.
Ok, enough of harping on Square and back to Undertale, heh. It’s basically way different from the typical jRPGs that come out nowadays, and that’s really cool (to me anyway). There are some flaws in the game… There’s 2 battles in in particuluar where figuring out what you’re supposed to do while doing a pacifist run is quite challenging. I know people who were extremely frustrated that they had to consult a game guide during all this, but me personaly… I didn’t mind it. To me, it always felt like the game expects the possibility of you making these mistakes. Even dying 5 times on a boss, I did no feel like I was wasting time. Hard to explain without giving away spoilers, sorry….
I know some people will not be convinced by my words, and that’s ok. I realize that it won’t be for everyone… and there’s also the fact that some people are sick and tired of the game, because it was so hyped-up, and to those people… let me assure you that this praise isn’t coming from nowhere, it’s not just a cheap fad, hence I fully recommend the game to any fan of RPG games, and if you’re still not convinced, then just let me tell you that this game features an enemy called tsunderplane… it’s a plane wearing a mop cap, who’s a huge Tsundere, and if you hug it, it’ll blush and send planes at you, which are covered in a green aura, and if you catch that aura, while not getting too close, it’ll surrender….
BEST GAME EVER!!!