“Undertale” is a unique game where nobody needs to die. Unlike most games, that force you to take the violent route to get to your goal, “Undertale” allows you to defeat all your enemies through peaceful means, and spare them.
The overall feel is similar to games like “Earthbound” or “OFF,” as there is somewhat of a childlike whimsy as the main character interacts with others in a cute and innocent manner. It seems heavily contrasted to the fact that everything is trying to kill you.
The story is simple, yet well done. You’re a small child who has fallen into the world of monsters and its king wants you dead. Fueled by your determination, you must face this king in order to bring peace to the land. Throughout the story you’ll encounter strange monsters, quirky characters and murderous flora.
The game is deviously well made and will remember the actions you took earlier in the game, or even in previous games. This is all because of a one save system, which keeps track of all your progress. While this may occasionally lead to some really charming moments, it can also be downright creepy or horrifying as characters call you out for your evil actions.
Despite being a NES-styled, pixel-based game, there’s no lack of emotion. The character dialogue is well written, despite the limitations. The story evokes feelings of humor, sadness and horror through silly scenarios, caring monsters and skin-crawling eldritch abominations.
The chiptune-based sound effects and musical score are perfectly done in order to delve players deeper into the experience, growing fast and louder as the player get closer to their goal. The music itself is done by the game’s creator, Toby Fox, who’s known for his musical work in the interactive web comic “Homestuck.”
The battle system is unique. Instead of forcing you to fight each enemy, you can choose a more peaceful solution. For example, during an encounter with a giant guard dog, I chose to pet it and play with it. This eventually caused the monster to fall asleep in my lap.
Of course, if you just want to go around stabbing everything, there’s nothing to stop you. You’ll gain LOVE and EXP for doing so; however this won’t make you any friends.
In between each turn, your enemies will attack you and you’ll have to dodge them using a bullet-hell-styled mini-game. Each enemy has a different attack, which can change depending on how you treat them. During late-game stages these mini-games can be extremely challenging as you find yourself dodging a legion of spears, bullets and over-excited dogs simultaneously.
Meanwhile, bosses can change up the entire game, adding new mechanics or rules as they see fit. Similar to normal enemies these bosses can also be defeated in a peaceful manner, or through utter destruction.
While these mini-games are fun mechanic, they can become grating after a while. The random encounter system can be tedious from time to time, as you go against the same monsters again and again. Even worse, if you lose against a boss you’ll have to start the whole encounter back from the start. Luckily, the game is nice enough to skip the pre-game cut scene if this happens.
The game is short for an RPG, though you will still get plenty of content for your money’s worth. You’ll probably spend about six or more hours completing one or two of the game’s three endings. Unlike most RPGs however, these hours won’t be wasted on fetch quests or grinding, but is focused purely on gameplay.
All in all, “Undertale” is a bittersweet game with an undertone of utter horror. If you’re looking for a strange and unique indie game for your free time, “Undertale” might be one that you would love.
“Undertale” is available now on Steam.