Follow TV Tropes
laconic version: Undertale's main moral falls flat when you're trying to experience ALL the content the game put for you.
non-laconic version: But first...
You probably know how it goes: You came off fresh buzz of achieving a happy Pacifist Golden Ending for everyone, you've already seen what most of what the Neutral Route has to offer... only to realize you're not done with the game yet.
Knowing there's one more route to go, you preform a True Reset, kill all the monsters that aren't hiding in Alphys's True Lab, get dunked on, get Sans dunked on, kill the king, and finally get deleted by the First Stripèd Shirt Kid, thus requiring you to give Frisk's soul to the Fallen Human in order to properly play the game again... thus also screwing you over out of the Golden Ending hard.
Was all the guilt you got during the run legitimate, though? The game thinks so, not missing a single chance to let you how evil you are for wanting to undergo the route where everyone dies by your hands... but with unique dialogue, unique encounters and boss battles, unique music, there's a LOT of stuff you'll miss out on if you never go the Geno Route. How else do you think Sans's reputation among the Undertale fandom grew in the first place?
That's no primal urge of pure evil, that's the same source of curiosity that drives players to get every trophy in other games, to unlock every route in all visual novels, to complete the Brutal Bonus Levels and Bonus Bosses in most Nintendo Platformers. It's been a neutral force, and always has been.
The game even knows deep down that you'll want to go that route at some point, and even pokes fun at people for trying to look up what happens on YouTube as a subsitute near the end of the route, as much as it tries telling you there's no point to the Geno Route. The 5th Anniversary Concert even goes the very same order of paths most people go for, an official video, no less!
It's a little hard to call out the player for transgressions they've committed, legit or not, when there's an entirely unique route, specifically laid out for the player, that even has two of the most challenging fights in the game locked away in those routes.
Man, I can't imagine a time in my life I've felt the pointlessness of reviewing anything more keenly than I do right now. It's... it's Undertale for God's sake! "The Friendly RPG Where No One Has To Die?!" More like "The Popular Indie Title No One Feels Neutrally About!"
On that note... I kind of suck at Undertale. I'm not a bullet-hell man, and I can't dodge well. I had to buy the fancy special armor to get past one of the final bosses, and I got wiped a lot by the first final boss who's apparently so easy that people say you have to try to get beat by them. I also never quite got around to finishing the first "true" ending, and had zero interest in personally experiencing the other major ending.
So, why's my opinion matter?
Well, I'mma talk about the moment-to-moment experience of playing Undertale, which I feel is often lost in the crushing pile of everything else about the game.
First, it's got great aesthetics, and serves as living proof that graphics aren't the same thing. With charming and expressive pixel art placed alongside a catchy chiptune soundtrack, Undertale is a famous triumph of both major trends in independent game development. Props must also go to great character designs on the monsters, all of whom could've stepped out of a modern cartoon but somehow still retain many endearing qualities.
It must be noted too that their designs are only half the story. The cast does a great job of invoking strong emotional attachments to one another, the player, and their own situation, with the zaniness of their world not impeding their, for lack of better terminology, fundamental humanity. And the degree to which they respond to the player (rather than the player character's) actions is, if not revolutionary, inspired and taken to great depths.
I also appreciate that that cartoon ethos spreads over into the rest of the game. In place of killing enemies, a boring and unrewarding process the game both subtly and overtly discourages, fights are a logic puzzle of determining what will placate a particular foe, with many clever and out-of-the-box solutions involving item use. Cartoon logic also shows up many times on your underground journey, rarely breaking tone.
That said... my biggest criticism is the reason I stalled out. The lack of a run button and sluggish movement speed combine poorly with sometimes-gratuitously-large rooms. Plus, many of the non-death solutions to boss fights are difficult and unintuitive... especially when one boss *has* to be bludgeoned into submission without other recourse, which works thematically but not so much mechanically for a player, like me, who's had little practice with it.
I can't imagine you feel neutral about it or haven't heard of it, but... well, all I can say is, I had a good time, long ago, and I've re-wishlisted it on a Switch after ending up on these pages by chance.
It's been five whole years since Undertale came out, and thousands of people are still praising this game... why? Shouldn't we be tired of Undertale by now? No? Anyone!?!?!?!
Jesus Christ... I know that everybody in this god-damned fandom is going to hate me for saying this... but Undertale was overrated when it came out, and it's still overrated now. There! I said it! Hah!
Toby Fox created Undertale because he was tired of traditional RPGS... but after five years of people screeching about mercy and determination and the thousands of Sans x Reader and Sans x Sans fics, I'm starting to get a bit tired of Undertale.
Undertale addresses the consequences of killing people in RPGS, but the game doesn't do a good job of illustrating the consequences of dying over and over at the hands of opponents in RPGS (like Re: Zero, where dying is a horrific, traumatizing experience that nearly gives Natsuki Subaru a nervous breakdown whenever he has to use Return By Death). If Frisk weren't a silent child protagonist, they would probably break down into tears and sob whenever a monster murdered them to try and steal their soul.
The characters are actually pretty overrated if you think about their behavior for more than five seconds.
I have tried to provide reasonable explanations for why Toriel, Sans, and Papyrus qualify for Unintentionally Unsympathetic, but I can't put them in the Undertale YMMV Page without being accused of Fan Wank. Same for Can't Argue with Elves. Yeeeesh! The folks at Ask the Tropes are jerks!
The game is only shocking if you deliberately go in blind. I watched Let's Plays of all the Routes, so the True Pacifist Route didn't make me feel much.
Look, I freely admit that I enjoy killing monsters in RPGS and I enjoy killing enemies in shooter games, human, alien and otherwise. Is that really such a bad thing!?
This game is just as stupid as Spec Ops: The Line, and the characters are so unsympathetic and hypocritical that I unironically enjoyed the entirety of the Genocide Route! I didn't do it because of curiously or boredom... It was out of anger, so I could put these assholes in their fucking place. I killed Toriel for being a hypocrite. I killed Papyrus for being selfish. I killed Undyne for being a racist bitch. I didn't kill Alphys, but I would have loved to (and Alphys NEO tries to guilt trip you, so I gave it a pass). I killed Asgore for being a useless bum. And I killed Sans because I hate him and everything he stands for. I killed Flowey to get rid of that fucking flower. I listened to Chara's "You Bastard"!!! speech... and then I quit the game and used a save editor to restore the True Pacifist Ending. And that was that.
Undertale pretends to be deep and meaningful, but it's really just an excuse for Toby Fox to rant about why he despises traditional JRPGS. It's as annoying and preachy as hell, and Undertale is nothing but a long series of guilt-trips for why JRPG players are the scum of the Earth.
It's been five years since this so-called "masterpiece" released and even now, I still find it very overrated and very mediocre; a game that did have potential and a promising, yet squandered premise.
As I said, the premise is promising. An RPG where you don't really kill enemies sounds interesting on the surface, but the execution is quite befuddling. Strange how one of the series Undertale is "inspired" by, Mother, can have encounters where enemies are merely defeated as opposed to outright killed and not raise such a fuss than the game summarized as "the friendly RPG where no one has to die". Instead, Undertale attempts to make it a moral choice, just without the understanding of how moral choices work. The best way I can describe it is a multiple choice problem. Lots of options but only one right answer and no "All of the Above". Likewise, the correct answer in every encounter is "spare". No thought or agency goes into such a decision, nothing to really get you wondering if you should actually kill the enemy that wants your head. And even if you do kill an enemy that does attack you, more often than not, the game will try to make you feel bad about doing so.
And therein lies a BIG problem. Why would I feel bad about killing a monster that's trying to kill me? Why is it suddenly the player's responsibility to show mercy? You're technically not even instigating these encounters. Why is it perfectly fine for a crazy fish woman to chase down a child with intent to maim them but WE have to feel bad because apparently a friend of hers is implied to have committed suicide in grief? It's a shame but it's not my problem. Many say this game is about consequences, but it's oddly lenient when it shouldn't be. What's worse is that you eventually come around to realizing that other children, like the one you're playing as, have met their fates amongst the monsters. We're not even talking hardened adult warriors or soldiers or ruthless people. CHILDREN. It boggles the mins how one can make a game where the life of a child is threatened by various characters but people still like said characters. If you want us to feel sorry for your monsters, maybe don't have them admit they would have harmed a child if a better deal hadn't rolled by (ahem, Sans...why do people like this good-for-nothing skeleton again?) or present us with a backstory that implies the monsters did something in the past that caused humans to want to seal them away in the first place while brushing it off with "they feared our power", clearly displaying how little the monsters have learned from their experience. The only character I can somewhat feel for is Asgore because the guy at least feels something of remorse. But that's not saying much because the rest of the main cast is awful by comparison. When people claim that this game is charming because of its characters, sorry, I don't see it.
That aside, as a game it's passable. The battle system, while unique, is too abstract to make heads or tails of. Is this kid ducking and weaving projectiles in real time? Why are the monsters aiming for your obvious weak point? The game tries to explain that this is a form of communcation for monsters, but I don't buy it. And again, having to spare the monsters makes no sense. I'd say it should be the other way around, but there are a few encounters where the enemy spares you instead. Too bad it only happens twice and never again. The more interesting mechanics are usually saves for boss battlea and after that they're forgotten about. I mean at least games like Mario & Luigi introduced new mechanics for you to get used to before you got to the real difficult showdowns, and persisted with them.
As a game focused on humor, Undertale REALLY overdoes it. The humor comes off as trying to hard and the randumbness factor and the insistence of being quirky every five seconds felt like the equivalent of shaking keys in front of an infant so you don't lose its attention. And many of the "jokes" don't hit home. I mean a tsundere plane? I don't get it. Thinking to the comparisons people make of the Mother series, it's like the only thing Mr. Fox took from the games was just the quirkiness and nothing else. Well that and outright copying aspects from the games (i.e. Temmies being Mr. Saturn expies and lifting a line from the Giygas fight to place in the game's discount version of the Giygas fight).
For me, everything goes downhill with the No Mercy route. Deliberately making the route boring because you hate grinding? What does that add to the experience? Why add content to the game that we're not supposed to explore? It just seems like a waste of time. Not for the player but for the developer. Not to memtion introducing a certain character that's apparently meant to represent a player's dark desire to get stronger. Sorry, but what? Seems Mr. Fox was a bit out of touch there. There's a reason for people to grind and get stronger in the first place: to clear a dungeon, defeat a boss, survive encounters or even to take down a superboss. But sure, just misconstrue all of that in the most dishonest way possible. And it doesn't even make sense in-universe. Leveling means nothing in Undertale since you can beat the game at Lv 1 (so much for it being an RPG...), so it's not a matter of getting stronger, it's simply the player's desire to see more of the game that you made. On that topic, why the jabs at completionism? Is it bad to want to see everything in a game that you invested time and money into? Is it bad to want to replay a game that they might enjoy? Isn't that the point of a game? The enjoyment? Why strip that from the player?
And if all that wasn't bad enough, when players slog through such a snorefest of a route they have to face Sans, the good-for-nothing skeleton as a final boss...who only has his infamous difficulty because it's in an effort to get you to stop playing. Also brilliant. It's bad enough that you can't lose the final boss "battles" of the other two routes, but now you cheapen the experience of what could be a fairly challenging encounter with THIS? And what is the player rewarded with after all of that nonsense? A permanent bad ending. Bravo. What was the point?
The only credit I can give the game is that the music is good, but that's the equivalent of a free space in a Bingo game. Many games have good music, so Undertale having good music is nothing to applaud; it should be expected.
So yeah, I still don't get the big deal around the game, even years later. Undertale feels like something that should've been relegated to "flavor of the month" status because I've honestly played better. I was more intrigued with games like OFF. Everything Undertale does that's even remotely interesting are eithrr things from the games it rips inspiration from or are done better in other games entirely. At least the demons in Shin Megami feel more unique than the 50 clones of the damned tsundere plane that all behave the same. Bravely Default was so much better at establishing the fourth wall in a way that actually enhanced the world rather than it doing so solely for the purpose of jabbing at the player. I won't say Undertale is a flat out HORRIBLE game, as on the contrary, it's well done. It's just a very bumpy ride that keeps it from being that great in my perspective.
You've probably heard a little about Undertale, "The Friendy RPG In Which No One Has To Die." That nicely describes the game- an RPG with a fresh new twist on the genre- even if the "choice" arguably isn't much of one.
The story involves you playing as a child trapped in a kingdom of monsters that want a human soul so that they can escape to the surface. In most cases, this would involve fighting your way to the exit and killing every monster in your path, but this isn't necessarily the case here.
The game mechanics involve two different approaches to dealing with monsters- killing them by reducing their HP to 0, or sparing them by taking various actions to pacify them, or simply waiting them out. The latter choice is obviously the more interesting approach, since the former only consists of attacking or healing- there's no magic, no special abilities, virtually no debuffs or status ailments, and no guard command, making the actual combat bare-bones. Sparing monsters is also obviously the better choice, but as for how much better... without spoiling anything, let's just say the game takes great pains to discourage you from going the Kill 'em All route.
In either case, you have to dodge Bullet Hell style attacks, and while it's very difficult to avoid them all, upgrading your equipment and buying healing items does help offset much of the challenge. This, combined with relatively easy puzzles, means that Undertale is not very difficult.
The story is probably the strongest part of the game, parodying and deconstructing many RPG tropes. The cast of characters is well-developed, and while they have significant personality flaws, and thus make bad decisions, they're essentially good people at heart and likable characters.
The graphics are fairly simplistic, and while this evokes a retro feel, they occasionally seem primitive. The music, however, is excellent, with a diverse set of tracks (some of which are admittedly variations on others) that nicely fit the mood of various areas, while matching the quality of classic RPGs' soundtracks.
Of course, one of the strong points in Undertale, as well as one that couldn't have been done before, is how it takes into account improbable player decisions, as well as those made without saving.
The game's fairly short, as it's possible to reach the end within 5-7 hours. There's a fair amount of replay value for things that might make more sense on a second playthrough, and various alternate outcomes, but it's somewhat annoying that the game has the temerity to guilt-trip you for playing again after you get the Golden Ending. That, combined with the game's approach toward the evil path, seems antithetical to conventional wisdom that games should encourage players to play through again and try new things.
All in all, Undertale is quite enjoyable, albeit more for its story than its gameplay, and more for its mercy system than its moral choices.
The soundtrack is fantastic. The writing is great, the characters are memorable, and the SAVE/LOAD elements are very interesting. The concept of how character levels are actually a measure of how violent your character is, as opposed to level being a measurement of your character’s abilities is an inspired idea.
Despite the fact that there are three different routes, there might as well only be two, as “neutral” is completely pointless. You might as well go pacifist, or murderfest, as you miss absolutely nothing.
The whole mercy mechanic is quite flawed in a way, due to how little effort it takes. Essentially, instead of mashing fight over and over, you mash act then spare. Despite being a pacifist run, the player forgoes nothing to do so. In most RP Gs, in doing a pacifist run the player will be underleveled, underequipped, and the game will be much harder as a result, but in UT? The game is so easy that defeating Asgore at level 1 is only marginally more difficult than level 19. No enemies drop any unique loot on death (all equipment is just laying around), and you get money for sparing enemies anyway.
It’s like if you were playing a game where to player was given a gun that shoots bullets, and a gun that shoots magical tranq darts. Both are equally effective, will eliminate an enemy, but the tranquilizer doesn’t kill, therefore it’s totally a pacifist run. Also, killing will lock you out of the best ending, so what’s the point of using the gun that shoots bullets? Many RP Gs have a problem with the evil option being counterintuitive, but Undertale manages to take it further.
Not to mention the game’s message is quixotic at best. When everything’s out to kill you, making peace shouldn’t be this easy. Ultimately, despite Undertale’s message of peace and mercy, what really brings it down is how little effort the high road requires.
The evil route is tedious. It shouldn’t be this dull. Playing the bad guy should involve stalking the Underground, while the royal guard futilely tries to stop your rampage. In practice, it becomes a game of walking back and forth, killing the same monster over and over again. The only reason to be naughty is for the bosses.
Also, what I said earlier about how there might as well only be two routes? Even if you went full pacifist, you still have to kill the neutral end boss once, which is annoying, because a certain phone call just flat out won’t trigger on a first playthrough.
I really wish that the battle sprites were in color to begin with (there is a mod). Unfortunately I found that the environments really went downhill towards the end. After brightly colored and interesting locations like Waterfall and Core, the monsters’ capital city happens to be little more than an untextured walkway in a black void, Asgore’s castle is just Toriel’s cottage except in greyscale. You know the judgement hallway? Why didn’t the whole castle have that aesthetic?
That's all I can honestly say about this game, but I'll elaborate.
Undertale is an RPG that throws out all conventions. Instead of fighting, you have the choice-I use choice loosely-to, instead, talk to your enemies. It's a game that builds up it's in-game characters and tries to give the message that the only REAL monsters are those who don't give love a chance. And, honestly, the premise is interesting. And if you've been on Tumblr, Youtube, or anywhere really, you'll see Undertale-related stuff ALL OVER THE PLACE! So it has hype, a lot of hype. And with a community this big, the hype has to be over something. So I bought the game, booted it up and I decided to try it.
...I had a bad time.
Subtlety is not this game's strong suit. In fact, it's VERY heavy handed with it's themes. Game play wise, it's combat is focused on Skill Based Dodging and timed attacks, which is okay. It's nothing too deep or interesting. But since there are random encounters and boss fights, you do a lot of 'fighting', which is frowned upon.
See, it's not too fun to fight passive aggressively while your enemies can burn, stab, and throw you all around. For a game that tells you that 'fighting is wrong', you'd think there'd be some kind of leeway for self defense. But nope. And it's REALLY frustrating to try and spare someone who doesn't want to be spared while they're chucking fireballs at you, you 'die'-or, I guess, get knocked out-and you gotta do it all again.
I like the characters. And I like the ideas and themes, but the game play sucks the immersion out for me. It's just not fun or engaging for me, personally. I understand that the game is played mostly for the plot, characters, and comedy, but if the game play isn't strong compelling, then all of that is wasted. I feel this game might as well had been a visual novel or a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Game. But maybe that's too harsh and just me being angry that I can't refund the game now.
Bottom line: this game is overrated and feels rather tedious. As much as I'd love to experience all of the feels this game has to offer, I can't get over the hump that is game play not being engaging. It's boring to play and even more boring to watch. If there's anything to take away from this game is it's interesting characters and comedy. But that's what TV and movies are for.
At first I was never really planning on playing Undertale due to the hype behind it, the fanbase and there was other games that i wanted to play instead but, on a whim i decided to grab it during the summer steam sale...I'm so glad that i did.
Undertale offers a good story, music and themes that are rare in games these days. It has loads of memorable characters and funny well written dialogue. While the game is somewhat on the short side the content is more than enough to entertain most players. I really had only one real complaint which is the genocide route. While I started a genocide playthough I stopped after the ingame grinding became to much of a choir with no reward. After doing some research on why this part of the game is so tedious I found out that it was programmed intentionally to make a point about grinding video games and to make the player feel regret about their actions. While I can understand the reasons for this and i did feel regret for start a genocide run I think that the game can make a statement while still being Challenging. For example have the player face more stronger monsters looking for revenge for killing their family or have more harder puzzles that hinder the players progression this can make the player feel the weight of their actions while still giving more Challenging experience.
Overall I give this game a 9/10 and I'm glad to have played it.
Undertale is a rare game that comes along every once in a while and makes a genuine impression on me. While it's not for everyone, it sets out with clear objectives, and, in my opinion, succeeds.
A wonderful, enjoyable experience.
I checked this game out after a friend recommended it to me. Being a fan of the Earthbound/MOTHER series I decided to check it out. It starts off a pretty clear love letter to those games and takes a little while to find it's own voice. But when it does, holy shit.
The premise is simple enough for any adventure, escape captivity. As a human child plunged into the depths of an ancient prison for a race of magical beings it only get's weirder from there, the plot being incredibly deep for those with the will to go digging. Even if you only scratch the surface there is A LOT there to enjoy.
As the game's tagline says, "Nobody has to die." and that's completely true. Players are encouraged to use non-violent ways of resolving encounters in a battle system that is relatively unique, blending real time and turn based elements in a way that feels playable and rewards skill.
The characters are an obvious selling point for this game, each feeling distinct and endearing in their own way. It's very easy to like and care about these characters, each having (like most things in this game) a surprising amount of depth beyond their initial introduction.
The soundtrack is incredible, Toby Fox has a background in making music and it shows. Each piece, whether it be a leitmotif or an area theme conveys significant emotion and helps to develop the character or region of the game. Recurring musical riffs that help to link concepts and themes are also a big part of the game and help to tie together the whole experience in a rather subconscious way.
It's hard for me to really express how much I like this game without spoiling it's best moments. This really is a game best played without any prior knowledge and very clever one at that. It's clear a lot of effort has been put in by the creators and the stunning depth beneath a cutesy facade is truly amazing.
This game played with my emotions in a way few others could, being simultaneously heartwarming, cute, happy, brutal, disturbing, dark and chillingly nihilistic (depending upon how you play of course).
I'll be the first to admit it isn't for everyone. If you liked Earthbound or the MOTHER series, chances are you'll like this. If you like clever games that reward exploration and investigation, you'll like this game. If you like games with a good plot and good characters, you'll like this game. If you like games with depth, I'm almost sure you'll like this game.
Try the demo and see if your into it. I highly recommend.
Undertale is quite frankly an overrated game and not as clever as people think it is. It's a game with 3 paths that people can take, and which path they're on is determined by the amount of things you killed. Anyways, a lot of the game is nothing to write home about. The graphics are basically retro pixel art that a lot of indie games tend to make use of. The soundtrack is average and nothing spectacular. But the gameplay is terrible. It's essentially an RPG with bullet hell mechanics, where you have to dodge simple bullet patterns every single time the enemy attacks. It's as boring as it sounds. There's a pacifist route, the neutral route, and the genocide route. The pacifist and neutral routes are the main playtroughs just tell a really basic story about a human trying to get out of a mountain full of monsters that's nothing to write home about. The humor tends to err on random monkey cheese humor a lot for those paths, which gets very irritating.
The genocide route is exactly what it sounds like. You kill everything. And doing the genocide path is really tedious considering that you have to kill everything, which takes a very long time. Oh, and the game calls you a horrible person for daring to kill fictional characters. Pixels. Virtual things. It's essentially an eye-rolling soapbox about how killing is wrong. The creator of the game honestly has no right to do that, considering that he put the path in the game in the first place. It's basically the same pitfall that a lot of other games fall into, calling you a horrible person for doing this horrible thing. Except the game developers are the ones who made that thing in the first place, so it's kind of hypocritical. Oh, and just to be a smart aleck, he decided to shoehorn in a comment calling out people who decided to watch a playthrough on YouTube instead of playing through this tedious part of the game. And for some reason, this path also doubles as a massive spiel about why completionism is a bad thing. Oh and to pretend that your choices matter and have consequences, you're permanently locked out of the best ending upon completion of this path. Not without messing around with game files, which is not as simple as it sounds if you have the Steam version.
Don't buy into the hype for this game, it's not as great or as clever as people want you to think.
This original review, upon closer inspection, was incredibly biased. I'll try to be less bias now, but expect some bias to be thrown in there. Bias bias bias.
Undertale is a game that was created by Toby 'Radiation' Fox.
This game has amazing ideas, most of which are executed well. The problem with it is that it sometimes randomly screws up what it's trying to do when forcing you to do an empathy; a prime example is in the Genocide run. Which Frisk/The Fallen Child, or who ever, moves when people are doing their spiel before fighting... really disconnects me from what happening. It'd be a lot better if the player did this. This might have even worked in the whole moral of the Genocide ending (you're the monster for killing innocent people). Same goes for the Neutral; if you murder, throughout the entire games, no one cares unless you specifically murder main characters.
The Characters are archetypal. You could say that all the main characters are deeper than they really appear, but those character arches are still archetypal.
The idea of resetting and saving is not really toyed with. What I mean by this is that it really could've been expanded upon game-play wise, as things that happened after you Save Scum could've been talked about or at least hinted by one of the main characters. They do serve a good plot point in the narrative, however.
I wish some of the side characters had a little more personalities. What I mean is that, while the game does a good job in making me feel empathy for the bad guys that'd we'd be slaughtering. Some of them though... Are just kind of boring, and unoriginal, like Vegetoid.
First things first: this game is amazing. Its quirky nature, its unique combat mechanics, its plot, its teetering of the fourth wall, they're all amazing. First time through, I went and beat Photoshop Flowey, following on to the pacifist ending and Asriel. Then I decided, "I want to fight Sans. I'll quit afterwards, and not let Chara get me."
So I reset, and went on to do another pacifist run. And it was this run that really got to me. The first time, I was just going through the motions. I didn't so much as spare as I did flee from anyone I could (I even lost to Papyrus three times and took the cheap way out). This time around, I went out of my way to spare every enemy I could. Cost me seven game overs, but I did it. And with the Absolute God of HYPERDEATH as my witness, did it make a difference. Every character I spared was one I got to know the actual personality of. I got to truly see what made this run so special. What made this game so special. Its character. The emotions it can invoke. They're what made this game special, from the joy of sparing everyone, to the tedious nature of the Genocide run (which made me feel like crud, honestly). And so when, at the end of the second true ending, when Flowey begged me not to reset the game, I listened.
I don't regret my choice. This game turned fictional characters into people I thought of as beings with real emotions, and forced me to take into account their feelings, which lead to my decision to never open this wonderful game again.
Undertale is not a perfect game. But it does a lot right. The music is great, and it ties in very neatly with the story and themes that the game presents. Likewise, the story and writing are top-notch. The characters, while archetypical, are endearing to the point that it's one of few games that made me do a pacifist run out of empathy rather than as challenge run or for the sake of a gameplay benefit. The game does its best to make you not want to hurt anyone, and it does it well. The meta elements are also well-executed, adding to the story as it plays out.
That said, I didn't didn't find this game quite as revolutionary as a lot of people make it out to be. For all the talk about your choices matter, ultimately your decision boils down to "kill nothing", "kill some things", and "kill everything". The only real differences in who you kill or don't kill are a few bits of changed dialogue. It executes the examination of that choice better than 99% of other games that tackle it, but it isn't the first time that a game has tackled the question of "but what if you didn't have to kill anything?" (see Iji, for example).
Similarly, the game's mechanic of dodging attacks is interesting, but there isn't an enormous amount of depth to the system. Most random encounters can be solved in two or three turns, and they get a bit repetitive. The boss battles are definitely the high point of gameplay, as that's when the mechanics start getting expanded, but even in these cases, each new mechanic typically only gets used once and never shows up again. The only exceptions are mechanics that get reused by the Bonus Boss fights. It feels like the game only scratches the surface of what the gameplay could be like.
There are a few other minor flaws as well: The graphics top out at "functional" and aren't anything to write home about until the endgame hits. Sometimes the jokes really get dragged out too long (Alpys, seriously, stop calling me). The puzzles (at least the ones that aren't played for comedy) are generally pretty "meh".
Thing is, despite the flaws, I was drawn into this game in a way that many other games can't manage. From an analytical perspective, it has its fair share of issues, but it has heart, which goes a really long way if you're willing to give it a chance.
Full disclosure: As a writer, I enjoy Undertale and will recommend trying it.
That said, let me start with the criticism. The art direction is basic and functional on average, even compared to The Halloween Hack. The non-soundtrack audio direction could also do with some tightening up. If you're not into Bullet Hell mechanics you're not going to enjoy the gameplay, and if you're not on the same level as its humor, the jokes can stretch for a bit long by half. More polish in these areas could've given it more mechanical refinement. As it stands, Undertale is functional as a game, in that it's possible to go into it just for fun and still get some enjoyment from it.
That said, the good bits can be summed up as the setting, the characterization, and the meta-narrative. The story opens on the classic setup of a small child lost in an alien world, but turns it on its head by giving the player enough agency to decide how they can get through the Underground.
The phrase that comes to mind is "Not So Different," as monsters aren't shown as mindless beasts or a warlike society as in many other RPGs, but not too dissimilar from ourselves; they have families, friends, lives, and culture, just as we do, and just as in Real Life, the game's setting is filled with Rounded Characters, its second strength. Hidden Depths almost doesn't begin to cover it; the core cast are more complex than they initially appear. It's almost impossible to get full reads on some characters without a few playthroughs. Even minor characters are at least given some personality, which is more than most games can claim.
By asking What Measure Is a Mook? and giving these monsters their own distinct personalities, it makes it easier to see them as people unto themselves. This leads to its third strength, the meta-narrative. It gets to ask the question "What would happen if you really acted this way around people?" and show them how Reality Ensues, employing What the Hell, Player? to reveal how more violent players have affected a world and what price they will pay for it as a result...just like in real life. Many games wish they could be this illustrative with their main points.
It's definitely not perfect. There's flaws and shortcomings, but a game that embraces the value of empathy and demands a price of those who lack it is at least worth experiencing.
God DAMMIT Toby. This game is amazing. Not only are the characters damn likeable, but this game truly tests your emotional strength. Heres what I think are the highlights of the game
Unlike Until Dawn, this game hardly pesters you about making the right choice until way later. Because unlike Until Dawn, you are given the will to become evil or good, and not be told "hey dont this or something scaaarry will happen". When you start the game, you dont even know if you should fight something or not. But the choices you make create many and I mean MANY different outcomes. From stealing on object to buying a hotel room, every choice counts.
2. Love and Relationship
The characters are extremely likeable. Even when you are evil they still treat you with a charming amount of innocence and kindness, that you cant help but feel horrible when you kill them. Papyrus especially. The relationships you make are genuine and very well done.
3. This game is freaking terrifying
Not like F Na F where cheap jumpscares scare you, but this game hits you where it hurts. This game can truly scare the livjng daylights out of you. Why? Because the game itself recognizes your existence. This game knows every save file, and every switcheroo you shot out of your butt. For example if you kill toriel, go back and then spare her, Flowey will say "You murdered her". That quote itself gave me nightmares for a week.
4. THE. DAMN. FREAKING. MUSIC
I love every track from this game. Every track. They are fast, catchy, dramatic, and downright epic. Toby Fox is well known for his fantastic music in homestuck, and looks like he struck again,
Probably one of the greatest fictional characters ever made. Not because he is strong, or wise, or heroic. In fact he is the complete opposite. He is the weakest opponent in the game, and overall a lazy and quirky guy. But the fact that he can literally shoot a meteor through the fourth wall is downright deep. He knows that you have the power to reset the world and do what you want, no matter who you hurt. He knows that you can make save files and fix your mistakes. He knows that the whole world is just a toybox for the player. He knows EVERYTHING. And it is downright terrifying.
Play it if you haven't. You are really missing out
Undertale is a good game. The soundtrack kicks ass, you'll get a good laugh out of it, maybe a few tears.
But it is certainly not the best game ever, not even close.
My main issue stems from tedium. Assuming that you want to experience the bulk of Undertale, you would play at least one Neutral run, a Pacifist run, and a Genocide run. On your first run, you fall in love with the game. Its surprises are charming, and characters so strange and off-color you feel as if you can't get enough.
And then you do get enough.
Don't get me wrong, Undertale is a quality game, but there are some parts where you're just mashing the skip button through walls upon walls of text. Because, for all its wit and whimsy, you've seen it. You've seen Sans's and Papyrus's hijinx. You've seen Toriel smother Frisk with love. I'm aware a game can't provide endless fun and replay value, but mind you, this game is very linear. There are very little physical crossroads, so with each consecutive playthrough, you'll be walking the same paths, hearing the same jokes, going through the same motions to spare enemies you've seen dozens of times before, et cetera, et cetera. Most of the above doesn't apply to the Genocide Run, which in my own non-professional opinion, is the most entertaining run in the game, for being the odd man out of the other paths. There's a difference between walking into Snowdin after killing a lot of monsters versus walking into Snowdin after you've left a dusty trail of murder behind you, and the music slows down to an unsettling pace.
Though, as I'm sure most of you are aware, Toby Fox accounted for every single action the player could take in the game, as you can see on the Developer's Foresight page. The many Neutral endings would certainly motivate one to go for all of them, right? In my experience, no. Aside for a different wall of text being thrown at you at the end and some conversations going differently than others, not much. You're still going to fight Asgore and Flowey, and you just wasted several hours to hear a phone call.
tl;dr: Good, but the replay value lessens more than it should with each playthrough unless you're doing the two extremes. Still a great game, though $10 is a little steep for its worth.
Disguised as an 8bit Mother 3 clone, Undertale conceals a rich and wholly unique experience. I can say, with utmost certainty, Toby Fox has crafted a masterpiece. Enchanting, charming and laugh-out-loud funny from start to finish, Undertale will be making Top Indie RPG lists for years to come.
As a parody of mainstream RPGs, Undertale brings to the table the mechanic of sparing enemies — not simply "fleeing" from them, but specifically giving mercy. Showing mercy, while it won't earn XP to gain levels and strength, is still rewarding because killing, just like in real-life, holds severe consequences.
The world of Undertale is filled with some of the most memorable, well-crafted and just plain fun characters I've ever encountered in an RPG. The game actually feels "alive" at times with how the characters and world constantly change and respond to the player's actions. Being merciful will earn loyal friends, killing will instill fear and anger. Papyrus the skeleton in particular is impossible not to adore. The writing is solid and often genuinely hilarious and clever. Even random enemies are creative punchlines in some capacity and all manage to tell interesting stories through the way they fight.
No effort or attention to detail was spared. I was repeatedly surprised by how many jokes and secrets could be found by exploring. Undertale rewards curious players who leave no rock unturned. Again, further proof of Toby Fox's appreciation for detail and humor. Undertale actually offers vastly different stories and experiences based on how far the player takes their "mercy," if at all. This adds a bit of replay value and further depth to characters as they reveal different sides of themselves in response to the player.
Like the series it takes inspiration from, Undertale is proof that it's not about how many pixels you have — it's how you use them. Built on a foundation of masterful writing, Undertale provides raw fun with a take on the RPG genre that only comes once in a great while. If you've got $10 to spare on a quick game, this is definitely one to consider.
I am a person who respects and loves video games (I respect animation too but that's beside the point) so when I saw unfinished, buggy and just plain soulless cash-ins be shoved onto Steam's store (through seeing Jim Sterling's Jimquisition series) like the blatantly lazy works of Digital Homicide and the insulting uses of Unity assets that haven't even been modified, it made me feel rather put off by what Steam had become and I was almost considering uninstalling it and not to mention the obnoxious and unlikable PC elitists did nothing to help.
I had a few games installed but other than that, I was considering giving up on Steam...until I heard about Undertale. I had heard about it through Good Game and Jim Sterling and I eventually decided to buy a Steam card so I could buy the game after trying out the demo and once I started playing, I got hooked. Outside of MOTHER 3, I've never felt so in love with a game that has so much thought and consideration put in. The characters are all so interesting and have strong personalities upon meeting them and there's a strong sense of community within the game which I think is very appealing. The humor is spot-on and feels genuine with a lot of wit, surprisingly funny puns and a hilarious ton of well written dialogue. I think the music is incredible and fits appropriately with each scene occurring. Also, most of the songs I think are quite catchy.
The morality system made for this game I think is surprisingly well done. There are three ways to go out the game, Pacifist where you don't kill anything, Neutral where the go somewhere in the middle and No Mercy where you must kill everything in the game. There are many secrets hidden in the game and I think it would make sense to go and explore as much as you can. You might not find everything the first time but I think it's worth taking your time talking and exploring.
Honestly, I can say with certainty that this is probably one of my favorite games of 2015. I am so thankful to Toby Fox for making the game and I hope to see a lot more from him in the future. Thank you Toby for making such an incredible experience. You have my respect.
I didn't believe in the hype that Undertale had, but after playing it, I could see why people can't stop talking about this game. To start, the game massively deconstructs everything you know about RPG games and trying to treat it like a typical one will get you laughed at to say the least. Every battle has you using bullet hell segments to avoid enemy attacks and this may not be everybody's cup of tea, but it's at least a unique way of redefining an RPG battle. Fighting involves using timed hits to do maximum damage or performing various acts to mess with the enemy so that they either become weaker, attack less often, or even lose the will to fight so that you can spare them without having to resort to slaughter. It's up to you on how you wish to handle your battles.
The story is simple and the characters have their own quirks, but despite the simpleness and the short length of the game, there's a LOT to everybody no matter which ending path you're shooting for and I highly recommend getting to know each character from beginning to end. The characters and their stories got to me deeply and it actually got me to care about them. The amount of spoiler tags in the game's trope page and subpages alone should cue you in on how everyone aren't what they appear to be at first. In fact, your actions will determine how everybody (and I mean EVERYBODY) acts towards you and it goes beyond just a simple few sentences being changed.
The music itself is fantastic as it blends various genres and styles to make the game's world come alive and they all hit at the right mood when it's called for. I believe the large variety in the musical scores keeps the soundtrack fresh and something you might want to listen to more than once.
I highly recommend getting the game, but if the short length and the bullet hell segments turn you off, then it doesn't hurt to wait for a sale. Either way, this is a game you should experience at least once.
A while ago, I was thinking to myself about the unprecedented popularity of the Batman Arkham series. It was something that had never happened before, a superhero video game which was more than a quick Cash Cow, which became a widely acclaimed series in its own right. The solution I came to was simple: while most games based off comic books were basic platformers or beat-em-ups, the Arkham series made you actually feel like you were playing as Batman, with all the advantages and limitations which come with it. Around the same time, I figured it would be impossible to create a Superman game of similar caliber. After all, Superman's primary weakness is how good a person he is, and how unwilling he is to cause true harm. Without that, he'd be a vengeful god. What game would even give the option?
Undertale is a game about being powerful, and choosing to be weak. Everything you encounter, from beginning to end, is weaker than you by magnitudes. You have a journey to complete, and every step of the way, they'll do everything in their power to halt and hinder you. At times, it's easy to ignore your advantage. But if you keep it in mind, remember your responsibility for those more pathetic than yourself, even as they kill you time and time again, you'll stay weak. You won't assume a fraction of your true power.
In the end, it's all worth it. Watching the sunrise, you'll feel like Superman.
Undertale is a game about being Superman, but it doesn't have to be. That's the point.
It's a beautiful game, honestly. It's exactly what it says it is. A game where you don't have to kill anybody.
It starts with a child falling into the Underground, and they meet a flower. The flower is a tutorial! There is no fighting, there's only friendship. And friendship is gained by collecting friendliness pellets, so it's good to get them all! You get one, and you take damage.
The flower's face warps into something grotesque... but not as grotesque as what could come, as a goat-like person shoos it away, protecting you as her own child.
Undertale is... fundamentally an experience for this reason. It's beautiful, in every sense. The pixel art is appealing, the atmosphere is always intense and the characters are memorable, funny, and most of all, complex. Undertale spared no expense when it came to detail - the first time I accidentally killed something, Undertale remembered.
This game is a very strong contender for the 2015 Game of the Year, and in the same year as MGS 5, Bloodborne, Splatoon, and Super Mario Maker.
It's a game that's full of heart, humor, and most of all, determination.
Community Showcase More
How well does it match the trope?