Undertale: 2015 Game of the Year
This game’s definitely been making the rounds as of late. If you follow any gaming sites at all, you’ve probably been seeing 8 bit dogs, one-eyed skeletons, blue fish women, other random black and white characters, and wondering what in the sweet merciful hell the internet has gotten itself enamored with this week.
The launch trailer does a good job of whetting your appetite for what it’s all about:
What it’s all about, is one of the most charming, memorable, and emotional games of 2015.
Normally I don’t do reviews, but I enjoyed this game so thoroughly, I had to write something about it.
You look at the review with anticipation
You’d be forgiven for giving the game a pass based on its trailer and the few screenshots floating around out there. Undertale looks like every other retro RPG ever made. Where it shines through is, in a word, “charm”.
And there’s a lot of charm packed in a short space. Undertale is quite short, clocking in at around 3 hours for a single play through (though to get the full impact of the story, you’ll need to play through at least 3 times, and those 3 times carry major differences, so don’t worry about being bored).
There’s one problem with the length of the game – it makes it really difficult to write about! Just about anything I can tell you about the story would be at least a partial spoiler. I could tell you about some of the characters.. the doting character known affectionately by the fandom as “goat mom” you meet early on, the wisecracking skeleton brothers (who Netflix needs to make a sitcom series about now), the killer robot TV star.. every single one of these characters have their own backstories, and you will remember probably every single one of them.
Undertale is a game that it is very easy to get emotionally invested in. It starts out like your typical RPG with a typical battle system, but early on, the dialogue hints at the fact that you really shouldn’t play it like your typical RPG. In fact, if you go out of your way to play it like a regular RPG, let’s just say you will have a bad time. I highly recommend you don’t skip through what you’re being told in game!
Perhaps that’s another reason that I enjoy this game so much, is that it does a lot of leaning on the fourth wall, usually at the expense of the player’s expectations. In a good way, mind you – as much as I hate the pretentiousness of the word “deconstructing”, that’s exactly what Undertale does to the formula of the standard dungeon crawler RPG.
As of time of writing, the game has 19,000 positive reviews on Steam and 319 negative ones. A look through the negative reviews turns up a few common complaints. Those are usually about the game’s short length, it’s unorthodox battle system (think Touhou), or are otherwise jokes such as a negative review disguised as a positive, a complaint about the community (which is bloody irrelevant to the quality of the game), or a complaint about the hype.
Don’t let the hype get you down, okay? Undertale is a great game. It’s not the second coming of Jesus in vidya form, but it is probably the best $10 you’ll spend on a game anytime soon.
I leave you with the short words of a good friend of mine wrote in his positive review:
I paid ten dollars for a game that provided ten hours of entertainment and drew from me ten thousand tears. Would buy ten more times.NuVanDibe, Steam review
Graphics5/5 AmazingIdeally executed for a retro-like game. Pulls off a SNES aesthetic with charm and grace.
Sound & Music5/5 AmazingYou will find yourself humming tunes to yourself years after playing. Certain endgame tracks are tear-jerkingly epic.
Gameplay4/5 GoodStandard-ish RPG affair with a Touhou-like battle system that can be frustrating at times. I wish it was longer and had more replay value.
Technical5/5 AmazingBug-free aside from a couple of speedrunner exploits. It just works.
Developer5/5 AmazingToby Fox is a legend, both for his technical prowess and for generally being an awesome guy. No need to worry about supporting crappy publishers here!
My Enjoyment5/5 AmazingA game I wish I could forget about so I could play it over again with fresh eyes.
- Memorable, meaningful, and emotional story and characters
- The tunes are certified bangers
- Short, maybe 10 hours of content.
- Limited replay value
- Avoid the fandom at all costs