Video Game Review: Undertale

Details: Beat the game in around eleven hours. Played it on PC. Purchased the game on sale from Steam for about $5. No voice acting, all text based.

Undertale is an independently published video game, funded on kickstarter.com, and was centered on the idea of a traditional role-playing game where no one has to get hurt.

Firstly, the visuals need to be addressed. If you are intolerant of the look of old, 8 bit pixellated graphics, then this game is not for you. Watch the trailer to get an idea of what you’re in for. If you can tolerate or enjoy these kinds of graphics, then I thoroughly recommend this game, especially at the five dollar price point. Furthermore, this game isn’t always a true 8 bit visual experience all the time. The game plays with your expectations and sometimes does things with the visuals that an 8 bit game should not be capable of.

Speaking of overturning expectations, the story does a great job surprising the player over and over again. The premise is this: you are a child who has fallen into down a hole into the kingdom of monsters. You have to make your way through the kingdom of monsters and get back to the surface. There are a lot of interesting characters in the game. Despite a lot of dramatic moments, this game is mostly a funny game and draws from many places for its humor, like from internet humor.

There are multiple endings to the game depending on how you play the game. As per the core idea of this game, the primary choice to make is whether you want to hurt your enemies or spare them. I’m not going to go into it further because there are a lot of twists and surprises in this game. If you are unsure whether you want to play this game, I will write a minor, easily missed spoiler at the bottom of this post which will give you a taste of the surprises in store for you if you play this game. I enjoyed the story greatly and found the ending I got surprising and satisfying.

The music in this game is one of the best parts of this game. It is some of the greatest 8 bit soundtracks I have ever heard, perhaps even the greatest. The music is surprisingly complex and catchy for this kind synthesized soundtrack.

The weakest part of this game, like in most role-playing video games, is the gameplay. Gameplay consists mostly of puzzles and combat. Puzzles vary, but were not too difficult to me. Combat consists  of controlling a heart-shaped icon and dodging obstacles that come at you. Think the Space Invaders video game, except expanded. This takes that idea of dodging icons and ramps it up much further. Even still, it’s kind of boring and difficult at the same time. I died a lot of times in combat and found myself frustrated at times. Sometimes, I just wanted to quit the game because not only was the combat hard, it was boring and repetitive.

Overall, this was a fun game with an engaging story. I would recommend Undertale if you can tolerate the old-fashioned visuals and can get the game for five dollars or less.

Score: 6.8/10

 

 

 

SPOILERS BELOW

So when you first start the game, you’re found by a motherly, talking cow who takes care of you. When you try to leave her house, she obstructs your way and you have to fight her. If you figure out how, you can spare her and not kill her. The first time I fought her, I just killed her. I felt bad about it afterwards and reloaded my save file and figured out how to spare her instead. In my second play through and before I fought her the second time, I took a nap in a bed and dreamed about how I killed her the first time, something that did not happen in the prior save file. After sparing the talking cow, I encountered a talking flower who confronted me and told me that he saw me kill the talking cow in my last playthrough. He asked if I thought no one had seen it and if I had thought I got away with it by reloading my save. The flower went on about the flower had a similar power to save and rewrite reality, similarly to how I had reloaded my save file. This encounter freaked me the hell out and changed how I played the rest of the game. What’s amazing to me was that if a player did not kill the cow and reload the game, then they would likely have never had this encounter or at least had different dialogue when they met the talking flower.

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