Undertale is, without a doubt, one of the best video games I have ever played. It came completely out of nowhere for me and blew me away. You have quirky, funny writing and visuals similar to Earthbound combined with bullet hell gameplay. It’s touched me in way that no game has for a long time and has easily and permanently secured itself into my top 5 list.

Undertale is the first game, besides from an Earthbound ROM hack, developed and published by Toby Fox. It was kickstartered back in 2013 and came out in September on both Steam and his own website.

Story

"Welp."

“Welp.”

The Story and characters of Undertale really gripped me. The basic premise is that many years ago there was a war between Monsters and Mankind where Mankind won. After being beaten, the Monsters were sealed under a mountain behind a magical barrier. This state of affairs continues for a very long time until you, a young child, venture up the mountain and fall down a hole into the underground the monsters inhabit. From there you must struggle to get back to the surface while encountering a diverse, silly, quirky, array of characters.

Tsundere Cactus

This is the kind of humor you can find in almost every item. Buckle up.

I can’t go into further detail without spoilers but the writing in this game is simply superb. The characters are well-defined and distinct, the humor is quirky, silly, and amazing. The world is jammed so full of hidden jokes and details that you’ll still be finding new stuff several playthroughs in.

My sides.

My sides.

It’s been a long time since I’ve identified and attached myself so much to the characters in a game. They’re just so well-written, funny, and unique that I can’t help but love them. Every character is fleshed out very well and there isn’t a single case of a character feeling bland or forced.

One of the things I love about this game is that there are multiple endings and many small variations within those endings. This really encourages multiple playthroughs. Another thing that really sets Undertale apart from other games is that the way the story unfolds and the characters react is logical based on your actions. If you’re doing a peaceful run, the world is happier, the people react to you positively, and the characters development reflects that. However, if you adopt a more violent route the world reacts. This isn’t a static rpg where people wait to be defeated or killed. Towns evacuate ahead of you and the characters call you out in a fashion that someone reacting to someone who has killed their friends and family would.  It really makes the world, apart from being filled with monsters and magic, feel realistic in a sense.

The story in this game blew me away. I love the setting, I love the characters and the writing is some of the best I’ve seen in my lifetime of gaming. For story, Undertale gets a 10/10.

Gameplay

Undertale is definitely an odd one. You have traditional rpg elements, puzzles but not traditional rpg combat. In combat you have the option to fight, act, use an item, or use mercy on the monster you’re fighting. Where it really differs from other games comes from two points. Firstly, when getting attacked by a monster you don’t just take a hit like in Final Fantasy, you have to dodge their attacks like in a bullet hell game. This was a very refreshing  change of pace to me especially as someone who doesn’t play bullet hell games and isn’t very good at them. It provided a good deal of challenge.

"He's a comedian!"

“He’s a comedian!”

Secondly, what really sets apart this game’s encounters from other RPGs is that you don’t have to fight. Every single monster in the game can be spared and defeated through non-violent means. And the way you accomplish this is different for every single kind of enemy. Say you’re fighting some kind of guard dog, you can pet him until he doesn’t want to fight anymore. Or if you encounter Tsunderplane you can defeat it by approaching and noticing it but not too close. It really syncs well with the game’s writing and humor and is a great change of pace from traditional RPGs.

The gameplay is clever and unique and while the puzzles aren’t particularly challenging they still provide a fun side task from the rest of the game. For its unique take on traditional RPG game mechanics, Undertale gets a 9/10.

Graphics/Music

There really isn’t a ton to say usually when it comes to classic RPGs of this style. I love the pixel art style of Undertale. It’s very reminiscent of games such as Earthbound. It’s well-done; its colorful and really pops with the overall vibe of the game. One thing I would suggest though is playing the game in a window. It depends on the size and resolution of your screen but in full-screen the visuals, while still good, don’t look as good stretched.

Very bright and colorful.

Very bright and colorful.

Adding to the vivid and classic look of Undertale is a very well-composed soundtrack. Each area and major character has it’s own track which really adds to the atmosphere of the game. I enjoyed it so much, I even purchased the soundtrack which cost as much as the game itself.

The visuals are bright, colorful, varied, and never get stale. The soundtrack is diverse and really sets the mood for each character and area. Because of this, Undertale gets a 10/10 for graphics and music.

Conclusion

So after all that, should you buy Undertale? Absolutely yes with a small caveat. I’ve made it very clear I love this game. It has been a long time since a game, its characters, and it’s setting have grabbed me so much. I’ve replayed the game, I bought the soundtrack, I pre-ordered official merchandise, and I’m even keeping up on fan art blogs that continue the story after the game ends. I want more of this game. I want more interactions with the characters. It even made me examine certain aspects of my life and put me in a very introspective mood for a few weeks.

However, as much as I love this game, its humor that resonates with me, it’s not necessarily for everyone. If the style of the writing and character’s doesn’t resonate with you then I don’t think you’ll enjoy it long-term. Thankfully you don’t have to pay to try this out. Toby Fox has a free demo of the game you can try available on his website which will let you know if it’s really for you or worth checking out further.

The game costs a measly 9.99 on Steam and on his website. I think it’s easily worth three times that. The game has exploded in sales since its debut on Steam and I feel its success is more than deserved. I’m very excited to see what else the creator comes up with down the road.

For its unique take on traditional RPG tropes and mechanics, its hilarious and deep writing and quirky characters, and a visual style coupled with a soundtrack that accentuates it at every turn, Undertale gets a 10/10 and a permanent spot on my top 5 games of all time.

 

 

Overall Score
100 %

Story 100%
Gameplay 90%
Graphics/Music 100%

About The Author

Big fan of all things Tabletop Gaming, Video Games, and Science Fiction/Horror. I also build and fix computers.

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