Undertale is Not Just A Meme, Play It
I was immediately turned off. What is this? A creepy skeleton kid? A scary AF flower? Weird turn based mechanics? What is with these graphics? I originally said, “No, thank you” and relegated it to nothing more than a meme. However, with Undertale on Xbox Game Pass for PC and Sans’ Mii costume in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, I decided I would finally play this game, filled with determination. And I’m glad I did.
As this article is intended for potential newcomers to Undertale, I will refrain from spoiling major plot points. What I will say though is that this game consistently played with my expectations of what an RPG can be. It toys with you and manages to surprise at many turns. It tugs at your heartstrings and assesses you through your in-game actions, not a dialogue wheel. And I love Undertale for that. In a sea of archetypal role-playing games, it stands out, despite its simplistic look. Please, please, if you play it, don’t look anything up; don’t you dare.
Undertale is played out through a non-traditional combat system. At first, it seems like a typical RPG Maker game with repetitive combat, but each enemy in the game throws a curveball. You have to avoid objects on screen by moving your heart-shaped avatar. And then, you have the option to speak to enemies in a friendly or aggressive manner. Like Persona 5, there’s a conversational system, in which you can convince the monster to back down. Each monster reacts differently, and you have to figure out the best way to win the debate. Or you could just slaughter them. That could also work.
To go alongside its fascinating combat system, there are a treasure trove of quirky characters to meet. It’s charming, disturbing, and hilarious all in one. For example, there’s Papyrus, Sans’ clumsy brother. He is trying to become a royal knight and is attempting to kill you for being a human in a monster world, but he is charmingly useless. The cheeky Sans makes fun of him and says to you that he isn’t a danger at all. While the writing is humorous, the gameplay also emphasizes how incompetent Papyrus is. There are many situations like this throughout Undertale that adds to its charm. And yet, it can go pretty dark, as well, depending on what occurs in the story.
Toby Fox is the sole developer of this game, and despite him designing, writing, coding, and illustrating it, he also wrote the music to Undertale. And to put it simply, it’s a wonderful piece of work. Megalovania is epic to battle to with an upbeat, catchy, rock tune. And then the theme in Snowdin Town perfectly encapsulates the charm and tranquil nature of the location. All of its music captures the essence of each moment and personality of every character and location. It’s an amazing soundtrack to fit an amazing game.
I never, ever thought I would be a fan of Undertale a few years ago. But now, I can’t wait to see what Toby Fox does next. I will tackle Undertale’s prequel Delta Rune soon!
Ever since playing Sonic the Hedgehog on the SEGA Mega Drive (that’s right, Americans!), Chris has had a love of the gaming medium. He may write too much about Kingdom Hearts, but he also likes to play first person shooters, platformers, Japanese RPGs, walking experiences, and more! You can check him out on the Active Quest podcast every week with Joseph Yaden and Josh Nichols.