Is Undertale Worth Playing?
Is Undertale worth playing?
Aside from a very brief period of time after I graduated high school, I’ve pretty much exclusively played video games on consoles. My brother helped me build a gaming quality PC back in 2005, but almost none of my friends played on PC and the ones who did played World of Warcraft, which I had no interest in. So after that phase in my life passed, I’ve stuck with consoles. I haven’t minded too much and I’m certainly not at a loss for games to play, but there are occasionally titles that I just never get around to because they are only available on PC. One such title is a Kickstarter backed RPG called Undertale.
For the longest time, the only thing I knew about Undertale was that, as an EarthBound fan, I would probably like it. Slowly, Undertale started creeping into a lot of the media I consume regularly. It felt like I couldn’t scroll through YouTube anymore without being greeted by a smirking skeleton that I knew nothing about other than the name of the game it was from. Some good friends of mine had played it and they concurred that I would probably really like it. The only problem was that it was only on PC/Mac at the time and that was inconvenient for my gaming lifestyle.
Then, last summer, it was announced that Undertale was coming to PS4/Vita. I would finally get a chance to play this game I’ve heard so little about, but wanted nothing more than to play it and find out what was so special about it. I ordered the collector’s edition from FanGamer.com even though it was about four times as expensive as the digital version of the game. I figured if this game was supposedly one that I would love, I would probably regret not ordering this special edition (that and my friend promised to buy it off me if I hated it.). Then, finally, last September, Undertale was in my hands.
I immediately latched onto the retro style graphics and the great music. The humor was also pretty spot on. I could see why fans of EarthBound would be into this game. It wasn’t a direct homage, but the similarities were there. I continued playing until the end. As soon as I was done I talked to my friends who were eager to hear my thoughts. I told them I thought the ending was a little strange but I enjoyed it. Then they looked at each other and said “Oh, he must have killed someone.”
Now, for the uninitiated, I feel like I need to step in and tell you a little bit about Undertale. I won’t mention specifics because I honestly feel like this is a game that just needs to be experienced and I’d hate to rob someone of the opportunity to do so. Undertale, as described on the Kickstarter page as well as the packaging for the physical copies, is a friendly RPG where nobody has to die. You battle by dodging enemy attacks in a fashion similar to bullet-hell shooters. You can also FIGHT to cause damage to enemies or you can ACT to interact with them and talk them out of battling (or get them to do something else to end the battles.).
You can play the game however you feel. You can kill some enemies and spare others, you can kill everything, or you can kill nothing. The game, the characters, and the environments all react depending on how you play. I won’t go any further than to mention that because of this, there are at least three different endings to the game. I had gotten one of the less interesting ones when I finally played it on PS4. I had always meant to go back and play again without killing anyone, but every time I sat down to play, my time was always limited so I would play a few quick games of Overwatch instead of investing in a story only to have to stop long before I really wanted to.
When Undertale finally released on the Switch in the middle of September, I finally finished my pacifist play through. Somehow I had gone roughly three years without any part of this game getting spoiled for me and I’m so happy I managed that. Undertale is such a charming, fun, and deeply emotional game. It’s also surprisingly short for an RPG, my pacifist run only took about 8 hours to complete and I dawdled as much as I probably could, exploring every inch of the game.
So what am I trying to accomplish by writing all this and not going into details about the game? I suppose my goal here is to reach out to anyone else who is like I was last year; aware of Undertale and the cult following it has, but still on the fence about whether or not it’s worth the time and energy to acquire and play. The answer to that is 100 times yes.
I LOVE this game. The characters and enemies are all unique and interesting, the setting is fascinating, the music is amazing, and the story is incredible. The feelings it invokes when you really get into it are unlike any I’ve ever felt playing a video game before. These little sprite-art characters find a place in your heart and refuse to leave. In fact, and this is a very minor spoiler, if you do manage to get a happy ending and come back to play the game again, the game warns you that starting over would erase the happy ending. The game literally tries to talk you out of playing again. And it friggin’ works! I’ve been considering buying the game on Steam now just so I can experience the game one more time.
Luckily for me, this Halloween we were surprised by Toby Fox, creator of Undertale, when he released Deltarune, a sort of sequel (Prequel? Alternate universe?) to Undertale. So far, Deltarune is only available on PC or Mac (and you can download it for free here. But be warned- it’s intended for those who have completed Undertale!) I finished the first chapter of the game, which is all that’s been released so far, minutes before starting to write this blog. But I’ll still probably buy the Steam version of Undertale to hold me over until chapter 2 releases.
If you like weird/quirky characters and storytelling, fantastic music, and retro style gameplay you owe it to yourself to spend anywhere from $10 to $15 to experience Undertale. It’s a quick play that will leave you wanting more. It is not for everyone- if you’re looking for a traditional RPG with a long, elaborate story and that JRPG style of grinding for levels, this will not scratch that itch. There is not a lot of customization to the game other than what way you plan on playing through it. It’s actually more like an interactive book than a traditional RPG. But I promise you, if nothing else, the characters and their relationships with the player character will be worth the price of admission. It’s available on Steam, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, and the Nintendo Switch.
Have you played Undertale? What was your experience like? Would you recommend it to others? Comment below and let us know, or jump on the GameZilla Media discord to talk about Undertale and a million other topics with gamers from all over the world! If you love that old school style Undertale has, make sure to check out our retro gaming podcast The Legend of Retro!