Here are just a few things, totally out of context, that Toby Fox’s Undertale has to offer:
- Pun-loving, spaghetti-making skeletons
- Armoured dogs
- A fish warrior and a dinosaur scientist who love anime
- A singing, dancing, diva killer robot
If those alone intrigue you, it’s time to load up Steam and fork out for the game. Otherwise, let’s get into more detail.
In Undertale, the world is split into two - the overworld of humans, and the underworld of monsters. After a long war, humans pushed the monsters underground and sealed them behind a magic barrier. Monsters haven’t seen the surface since.
The game opens with you, a human child, falling through the barrier. You wake on a patch of golden flowers in the Ruins of the Underground.
Soon, you meet a new friend! Flowey, the talking flower, who is here to help you out! He kindly explains how things work in the Underground - you need to gather LV (LOVE, of course!) through little white “friendliness pellets”.
Then he tries to murder you in cold blood, leaving you with the warning that this world is “Kill or be killed”.
Thankfully, you’re rescued just in time by the guardian of the Ruins. From then on, you have to journey through the Underworld, break through the barrier with the power of your SOUL, and return home.
The battle system is engaging, combining more traditional turn-based RPG elements with bullet hell segments, where you have to dodge projectiles (“friendliness pellets”). This introduces a real element of skill often lacking in traditional RPG battles. Each of the (adorable, hilarious, occasionally horrifying) enemies have unique styles of attack you need to adapt to if you want to survive.
But the real selling point is that you can complete Undertale without killing a single monster. Instead, you can win battles using ACTs - hugging them, singing with them - and each monster needs to be approached differently.
Or, you know, you can stab them all to death. Your choice! But this will have consequences.
The way you act towards the enemies in the game will affect not just the ending you get, but the type of game you play. A hyperviolent player may find towns evacuated before they get there, puzzles pre-solved in the rush to escape your reign of terror... meanwhile, a peaceful player will find themselves going on dates, making friends and eating terrible spaghetti. It really is up to you.
If you want to see all the secrets of Undertale, you’ll want to play it more than once. And there’s a lot of secrets to find, right down to the code.
Having to play it more than once to get the full experience may annoy some, and the battle system may be difficult to control using just a keyboard. The game does its best to mitigate this - letting you skip cutscenes you’ve seen before, the ability to skip battles you’re really struggling with, and frequent save points.
Overall though, the combination of a challenging battle system, memorable characters, great dialogue and the real impact of your choices, make Undertale a great little gem to add to your Steam library.