I don’t know what else I can add to a heavily talked about game, but I’m going to try.
***In this post, I talk about Undertale, game story and all. There are spoilers in this post and I recommend playing the game at least once before reading this***
In Undertale, you are human child who falls into the Underground, a large region under the Earth’s surface inhibited by various monsters. You are trying to escape the underground, while encountering monsters that are living there, choosing fight or flight any or all of them. Whether you choose to kill them or not, it’s up to you. You are wanted for your soul and if the King can get a hold of it, then he and the other monsters can break the barrier and be set free from the underground.
The game is short. The look of the game is like looking at a 16 bit RPG like Earthbound, mixed with some chiptune and real sounds. It can take you five maybe seven hours at most to complete the game on the first try. What this game does to increase the length is to have different moments and lines of dialogue in the game with multiple playthroughs. There are a lot of easter eggs, additional dialogue, side missions that is not available the first time, such as a chance to become friends with certain characters in the game. More playthroughs can reveal hidden lore and back stories for one or more of the main characters. Some characters can break the fourth wall by remembering past choices, commenting on how often you played the game already, and how many times you have done so. There are also several endings to the game depending on who you spare and kill. While the game does have multiple endings. I am focusing on are the neutral and the pacifist paths I played.
I actually was able to avoid news, watching playthroughs, theories, and spoilers for two years until I got this game. At least by the end of my first playthrough, is when I had to see what would happen in the game and if I was playing it right. I was trying to avoid fighting the Asgore, the final monster you encounter in the game, and I didn’t know that you didn’t have a choice when you fight him. I tried to dodge all of his attacks and I kept getting killed. I was trying to get the pacifist ending on my first attempt and I didn’t know that you could only do the neutral or genocide route first before the pacifist. That being said, I’d recommend doing the neutral run first. It could let you have access to different endings if you wanted to take a different path the second time playing.
I didn’t play the genocide route, but I will mention the aspect of the games EXP and LVL. Most Role Playing Games or RPGs, you gain experience points when you defeat an enemy and level up. In this game EXP stands for EXecution Points and LVL or Love as Flowey calls it at the beginning of the game actually stands for Level Of ViolencE. The more monsters you kill, the more the underworld will change in terms of the music that plays, the underground feeling deserted, and non playable characters being afraid of you. It will even change the final opponent you face depending on your actions. I hope to talk about the game after I’ve done a genocide run. I’d like to think I created alternate timelines and stories this way.
The battle system is unique. Your “soul” placed in a box represented by a heart and you need to dodge your enemy attacks in a strange game mechanic that can be described as “Bullet Hell” like. Bullet Hell is a genre description of really hard shooter games. If you’ve played games like Contra, Metal Slug, or Ikuruga, games where you need to dodge a lot of enemy fire on-screen, those could be considered that type of gameplay. Some moments are easy, but some times you need to dodge a barrage of attacks. I like this mechanic, it changes up the turn based attack style most RPG’s that I have played.
One of the best things for me about the game is the soundtrack. It has to be one of the best soundtracks I’ve heard from a video game in a while. Toby Fox, the game creator wrote the music for the game and he did not disappoint. I have some of my favorite tracks below that I got from YouTube. Definitely listen to them with a pair of headphones on.
I think the characters are some of the most developed for a short game. There are only several main characters, but they are so well flush out. Papyrus the royal guard in training, Sans a slacker with bad skeleton puns and a hidden characteristic that is revealed at the end of the game. Undyne head of the royal guard and has a disdain for humans. are some of my favorites in the game. There is also Toriel, Asgore’s ex-wife, and motherly figure to you at the beginning of the game. Alphys the introverted royal scientist who created a homicidal, robot who lives to entertain on TV, Mettaton. Funny enough, these characters aren’t even shown to be the villains or evil. Just Monsters trying to make it in the underground while achieving a goal of freedom. They are shown as Inept (Papyrus), a goof off (Sans) and a warrior (Undyne) but nothing to ever show pure evil intentions. Depending on your run, you can be the villain of the story. Even Asgore, the main antagonist isn’t evil, he just wants to free monsters and break the barrier trapping all of them in the underground. Most of the monsters in the game comment on how much of a nice guy he is. I just wonder what could have started the war between the monsters and humans? It’s the only plot that I would have liked answered.
I’m amazed with how much the game, went into detail with its writing and conpensating for the choices that you make. It can even call you out trying to “cheat” you way back to the beginning of the game. For instance Toriel, the first monster you encounter and takes you in at the beginning of the game can be killed. If you felt bad and try to start a new game, Flowey will tell you that he, or the game, is aware of you going back in your timeline to prevent yourself from killing her again. It will even offer dialogue boxes that you can tell Toriel that you saw her die before, but the game will say that is creepy. Characters will feel familiar around you on multiple playthroughs. Even at the end of the game Sans says that he is aware that you might be traveling through timelines, or start a new line depending on how you ended your last playthrough, and give you codeword to say to other variations of him to get more lore this way.
The pacifist ending of the game was one of the hardest things to realize. Your game is over for good, when you beat the game. You find out that Flowey, the evil flower who taunts and tries to kill you at the beginning and end of the game, was Asriel Dreemur, the King’s son. There was an original human that fell into the underground was adopted by Asgore and Toriel. This human got sick and died. The human wanted to see their favorite flowers before they died and Asriel took the human’s body and soul, as well as his, and passed through the magic barrier. He was attacked and wounded when the brought the human into the village by the other humans. Asriel was able to escape, but got back home and died. He needed you to befriend the other monsters so Asriel could take their and the six human souls already collected. He needed them to become all-powerful and stop you from completing the game. Because if you defeat him, then the game will be over for good after you defeat him. He says something that got my attention to the extent of, after you defeat me, you will never come back to this game. That we would forgot about him. It’s just funny how many games we defeat, or movies watch, or even books read, most of us never look back and revisit them. We put them away, or get rid of them. Thought, in the context and the fan base of the game, it seems that the story of Undertale will never be forgotten. When you defeat him and get a teary eyed goodbye, you awaken and the other monsters are fine. You all then leave the underground and that’s it. This game is truly over. If you go back, Flowey will greet you instead of a title screen and say that if you start a new game, you will reset the timeline. I haven’t gone back because I’d feel guilty resetting that line.
Did you play Undertale? Did I miss anything? I may pick the up and put up another post about the antagonist run later, but I have to see what else is going to happen down the road. Let me know any questions or anything I might have missed in this game in the comments or contact me. Thank you for reading.