Reader Review: Undertale (PC)

UNDERTALE_BOXI used to love RPGs as a kid in the 16-bit days, but I have a hard time getting into them anymore since they mostly have long and meandering 80-hour plots and overly complicated gameplay. It’s nice to know that others feel that way, too, like my friend Robbie Allen. He reviewed this RPG that sounds really fun, and not like today’s typical RPGs. So check out his review of Undertale, a downloadable game on Steam!

When I was a kid, I used to love RPGs, but as an adult I’ve found them harder and harder to play. This is mostly because of the fact modern RPGs have such enormous gameplay length, that it just feels really hard to dedicate the needed time to play them. Doesn’t help that the plots and characters in most RPGs these days just don’t captivate me like they used to when I was a kid. This all changed with a game I stumbled on in Steam called, Undertale.

Undertale is definitely a unique specimen among its RPG brethren. Not only does it encourage you to think outside the box and not always follow typical RPG tropes and ideals, it also gives you the ability to go through an RPG without even fighting a single monster, or at least not fighting back to be more accurate. In fact, this is actually encouraged.

See, fighting in Undertale is set up in what looks like a traditional turn based RPG gameplay style. Your player is given the abilities of Attack, Act, Item, and Mercy. Attack works like a traditional RPG and you attempt to defeat/kill your opponent, except it brings you to a meter where you try to time your attacks for the strongest blow you can hit. Act gives you the option to check the enemy’s stats as well as gives you subjects to talk to the enemy about. If you talk to the enemy about the proper subjects, you can reconcile your conflict without ever harming the enemy. Item pretty much is what it says, it lets you view and use the items you have in your inventory. Last is Mercy, which gives you the option of Spare or Flee. If the situation presents itself, you can spare the enemy your fighting, winning the battle without killing anyone. Flee works like your traditional RPG Run option, allowing you to escape from the battle.

When it’s the enemy’s turn in battle, you are presented with a shooter style mini game where you must dodge bullets or other items shot at your heart icon. The more items you dodge, the less damage you take in battle. Later in the game other variety of attacks are added that make the mini game play more like a simplistic platformer or icons that allow you to receive health or won’t heart you if you are still, but that’s the basics of the enemy attacks. So you choose your action, then the enemy presents you with a mini game, then you make your next action, and so on until the conflict is resolved. It’s a very inventive gameplay style that definitely keeps these turned based battles interesting and fun.

The story is also really interesting and imaginative, but I’ll try to keep it short, so not to spoil anything. You play as a 6 or 8 year old child who fell down a hole and has found himself in a monster world with no way to escape. Your character (the gender is purposely ambiguous throughout the game) is taken in by motherly goat monster named Toriel, who also teaches you the basics of the gameplay (in case you haven’t caught the pun in her name, try adding “Tu” to the start of it). Toriel is already a very likable character, but your character of course wants to go home, and after a heart breaking farewell, you go through an amazing monster world in hopes to get home, but also finding a variety of likable and fun characters who help you on your journey.

The characters in this game are some of the most likable, well written, and hilarious characters I’ve seen in a video game ranging from Dr. Alphys, the triceratops looking anime obsessed scientist who tries to convince people that anime is actual historical evidence of the human world to the comical bungling egotistical skeleton named Papyrus, who I can best explain as what I imagine Skeletor in his awkward teen years (complete with Nyeh heh heh laugh). These characters help to push this already clever game to even more amazing levels since you are given the choices to make these characters your friends or enemies depending on the actions you decide in the game. Furthermore the actions you make in the game heavily effects what happens, and I’m not talking small little comments, or what characters will or will not help you, this effects the very plot of the game, changes a majority of the outcomes, and even many of the environments. For example, if you kill every enemy that attacks you, then the towns you visit will be deserted because everyone has evacuated in fear of your blood lust.

Overall Undertale is quite possibly the most amazing, fun, well written, and creative game on Steam, and I can’t recommend it enough. The game maybe shorter than your average RPG clocking in at roughly 12 hours (in comparison to the average RPG’s 80 hours), but it more than makes up for it in all the alternate paths, multiple endings, and general encouragement of doing multiple playthroughs. I’ve completely fallen in love with this game, and I’m sure many of you will too.


Kid Factor:

Well, like all RPGs reading is a must. Other than that, there is a few moments of dark imagery and an emphasis on the importance of life and death. Also depending on the decisions made in the game, it could take some dark turns, but nothing I found too offensive. I think the game is pretty well suited for kids 10 and up, especially with how fun and cartoony most the characters seem. –Robbie Allen

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