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undertale-review.jpeg

After Six Years, 'Undertale' Is Still One of the Greatest Games Ever Made

By Declan Rowles | Video Games | October 20, 2021 |

By Declan Rowles | Video Games | October 20, 2021 |


undertale-review.jpeg

Undertale is a 2015 Indie RPG, created by Toby Fox, in which you play a small child who falls into the underground, a place where monsters were banished after losing a war with humans. In the game, you encounter the monsters, and you have two options: Fight them or spare them. It seems like your basic puzzles-and-monsters game, but there’s a twist. The choices matter. As you go throughout the game, you’ll notice that the monsters will act differently based on how many of them you have killed. If you kill none of them, the game will be more wholesome and fun; the more you kill, the less it will be this way. This creates three routes in the game: The Pacifist route, in which you kill nothing; the Neutral route, in which you kill some things and spare others; and the No Mercy route, in which you go out of your way to kill any and everything. Many people play this game three times, and try them all, because each of these routes is dramatically different, revealing various things about the world of Undertale each time.

The Mechanics

My favorite part about Undertale is how Fox uses the actual mechanics of the game to move along the story, such as Saving, LV, and EXP. It uses the basic conventions of RPGs and twists your expectations, letting you know early on everything you do matters and will affect what happens as you traverse through the story. The battles are fun, with unique face-offs with each monster you encounter, often based on dodging attacks like in classic arcade games. The battles can also have some fun twists as well, reminding you that the game’s primitive style was a choice not based on technological limitations. The puzzles are short and fun, and occasionally a bit infuriating, but the game itself isn’t that hard even if you’ve never played many video games before, except for the No Mercy route. I don’t recommend playing it that way unless you want a terrifying experience.

The Characters

The game has an incredible cast of characters with amazing writing that will make you laugh, cry, and everything in between. From the hilarious spaghetti-making antics of the Skeletor-like character, Papyrus, to the genius character arc of Flowey the Flower that I could go on for ages about. The characters initially seem one-dimensional, but they surprise you with the emotion they can instill within you as a player. The dialogue is also funny and has fourth-wall-breaking humor that manages to be self-aware but not so much that it’s overly clever. My favorite jokes are the puns; they are some of the greatest I have ever heard. The dialogue of the characters can also be horrifying if you play the No Mercy route, like the ominous “but nobody came” message that appears after you kill all of the monsters in a certain area. The No Mercy route also does a nice job of making you feel horrible about killing the monsters, making it, in my opinion, a psychological horror game if you choose to play it in that way.

The Music

Every song is based on a few leitmotifs that are mostly introduced early in the game, creating emotional payoffs throughout your adventure. There are all sorts of music, some very relaxing and chill like “Fallen Down,” a sweet little melody that will stay with you long after you play this game, and some dramatic and striking, like “Asgore’s Theme,” the final boss of the game. The boss music is also incredible, the most notable of which is probably the iconic “Megalovania,” the song that plays when you fight the No Mercy boss.

What starts as a simple game, full of puzzles and battles — you know, the basic stuff — instead transforms into a genuinely heartwarming experience that changed the way I look at the world. I can’t emphasize how good this game is. If you’re looking for a fun, lighthearted game you can really get into, or a psychological horror game that’s truly terrifying, you can have either with this one amazing game.

Undertale is available on Steam, Nintendo Switch, Xbox, and Playstation.

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Header Image Source: Toby Fox