Undertale is an RPG that was released back in 2015 and is available this month on PS NOW. It takes the bare bones of an RPG and fuses it with bullet hell turn based combat and supplements the gameplay with an incredible cast of characters and a stellar script which forces you to truly care about your actions, something very few games get to achieve. It’s especially impressive over such a short run time of approximately 3 hours. Undertale was originally funded through Kickstarter with a goal of $5000 ending it’s funding a month later at over $51000 back in 2013.
Developed and released by Toby Fox, a 1-man army of creativity Undertale has been elevated to cult status in the gaming community. It’s been 5 years since it originally released and sure I’ve heard of it but I never gave it much attention or thought and I just think how did I miss such an incredible game. The story on face value seems straightforward where humans and monsters used to rule the world before a war forced the monsters underground and were sealed away.
You play as a human who falls into the underground and needs to find a way out. Undertale only really opens its depth upon completing the game as the sheer number of potential variances to the ending is staggering. A whopping 93 different endings are achievable and they follow 3 different paths pacifist, neutral or genocidal and the main differences here are jaw dropping. The story is presented through NPC conversations, cutscenes, flashbacks and assorted things to interact with in the environment.
This works exceptionally well to uncover the history of the world, the characters, their origins and motivations and it’s truly engaging to seek out. What really helps drive this engagement is how hilarious it all is. Undertale opens and immediately begins to subvert your expectations with the genre as even moving a rock is comical. It effectively sets the stage and doesn’t let up on the physical slapstick punny style comedy routine until it finishes.
I can’t express just how wonderful the scripting and pacing are in ensuring the moment-to-moment gameplay is laugh out loud funny. When it needs to get serious it hits with such ferocity that it leaves your jaw on the floor. Combat is something you’ll be doing the vast majority of your time however calling it combat is actually painting the wrong picture. Enemy encounters are a more accurate term as all enemies in the game can be spared.
This is achieved through the act menu and you can talk your opponents into submission, befriending them, going on dates and even let the enemies fall in love with each other. You can kill every enemy and that’s how you level up, increasing your XP and getting more and more powerful and it’s your choice but just be ready to face the consequences of your actions. On my first playthrough I didn’t quite understand the potential of the act/mercy system and made the fateful decision to kill Toriel right at the start.
I then walked the line between saving or killing based purely on how disgusting the creature was. The second a jelly creature starts shaking its lumps at me it’s going to meet a swift death. I saved all my main characters after Toriel but it was too late as the damage was done. I felt the consequences of my mistakes throughout the conversations with Sans in particular. Sure, I killed random frogs, muscled seahorse creatures and even turned my back on my plane friend and I didn’t feel a thing but the second Toriel was mentioned it cut deep.
She just wanted me to have some cake and stay with her and I cut her down. I still had my friend Papyrus to lift my spirits and the dog shrine where you can donate coins. My second playthrough I atoned for my mistake and ensured I spared everyone, even the jellies. This is where Undertale truly opened up and I did everything that was available to me, finding the secret lab and learning the origins of one particular character was absolutely awe inspiring.
The extra layers to the story that become clear through this path elevated an already incredible experience. The ending boss fight and the accompanying music is worth the playthrough alone. I tried doing a third playthrough but I just couldn’t kill all the characters I got so attached to in the previous playthrough and I think that’s the real credit here.
A game which I’ve only spent about 7 hours combined time with has caused such a deep emotional impact where I can’t face killing the cast. To complement the combat encounters and exploration you’re treated to an outstanding musical score which takes cues from classic 8-bit melodies of our childhood and then adds a heavy dose of anime inspiration to elevate the climaxes to ridiculous levels of height. Undertale is an amazing experience and I recommend everyone to at least try it out as the characters, story and music are top class and you really won’t regret it.
Undertale has been permanently added to the PS NOW service.
With a clever combat system, great characters and a humor filled story but a serious undertone. Undertale is a must play title as there are so many different endings to get and the game is so short you have to at least complete it twice to see exactly what your decisions do down the road.