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Undertale

Developer / Publisher: Toby Fox
15 September 2015
Undertale - cover art
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4.10 / 5.0
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5,732 Ratings / 25 Reviews
#94 All-time
#3 for 2015
Humans and monsters were once considered to be equal, but war broke out between the two and the latter were banished to the Underground. One day in the far future, a human child wanders off to Mount Ebott and falls down a hole that is the only point of entry into the Underground. The child goes on a journey to get back home, but the king of the Underground, Asgore, has given orders to kill any human who enters the monsters' domain.
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Title
A Genuinely Charming Indie-RPG With Great Attention To Detail
I recently spent far too much of my time writing around nine thousand words about this game and why I liked it quite a bit. But you don't want to read that, do you? In short, this is an RPG that does a lot for quite a short linear experience, through its metanarrative elements, fantastically written characters, attention to detail and probably the best video game OST yet. It's funny and endearing, and it's because of this that its attempts to pull on your heartstrings really work, without feeling forced or making the mood seem unstable or undecided. It's one of those games that's best experienced without knowing too much about it, so go and play it. If you already have, maybe there's something else you can read?
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Diiny 2016-04-03T00:56:58Z
2016-04-03T00:56:58Z
4.0
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undertale review
its fine ig. i know why its so high but it just isn't really my thing. the tumblr community for this game also plays a reasonable role as to why I don't like this game as much. good porn tho
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whiteradios 2023-05-03T19:11:36Z
2023-05-03T19:11:36Z
50
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Six years. It’s been 6 long years since I last touched this game, only a couple of months after it became a bonafide phenomenon. My first real indie game, it was foundational, giving me my love for the indie scene, and my teen self really enjoyed its themes of exercising patience and practice non-violence, empathy, and self-defense juxtaposed with an industry far removed from such themes. Since then, I’ve played far more games, including its major inspiration in the MOTHER series and widened my horizons to a gaming landscape foreign to my former Nintendo/Yearly Sports Release™ loving self.

And yet, I was afraid of replaying it, as my tastes have changed dramatically. I’m… a bit mixed on Deltarune. From a mechanical, gameplay, and aesthetic perspective, it is undoubtedly better than Undertale. The comic tone of 90% of the currently released chapters didn’t really land with me, and while there are some interesting themes of player control and freedom of choice, they haven’t yet really developed nor are super appealing to me as of now (I'll chalk this one up to not really enjoying the release strategy, I would've preferred to wait until the full game came out). In these regards, Chapter 2 was a solid improvement, but Chapter 1 really sort of made me feel disillusioned as it was around that time that I lost interest in following the franchise. Coupling that with me generally losing interest or not enjoying games of the “quirky RPG” variety besides MOTHER, and being worried about how well its thematic layers hold up after so long, I was afraid that my nostalgia for the game wouldn’t hold up under scrutiny.

I was wrong to be so scared. While some elements haven’t aged as gracefully, overall, this game comes together in a way that made it far better than I thought it was going to be. Something that I appreciate now is that despite the game often taking control away from the player through bouts of humorous cutscenes, the game is remarkably well-paced from region to region. The Ruins works as a nice tutorial over the game’s basic gameplay and premise, and Waterfall serves as a very atmospheric (and at times tense) midpoint between the more setpiece-oriented ends of the game. Given how short it is, it does its job well enough I think as it ramps up the more serious elements as you progress.

I think the “bullet-hell meets RPG” gameplay was a solid twist, especially when the rules are changed (mostly in bosses) and force you to adjust your playing to account for the change in mechanics. While Toby would refine it into something more dynamic in Deltarune, it’s still solid, if basic today (I’m surprised the gameplay’s controversial today). Non-boss combat is at its best when many enemies are on screen, allowing for patterns to combine and merge. I like the dichotomy of how the low encounter rate sort of incentivizes a more pacifistic approach to gameplay (given this is the route the game would rather you be on) along with other tweaks (ex. if you’re pacifistic, you can generally avoid spending money on weapons and instead focus on armor, you can buy less effective healing items as your HP never increases, etc.). It’s balanced enough for combat to not get tiring (given sparing’s flowchartiness). The biggest reward of being pacifistic is that Toby rewards you with more character interaction (what he excels at), even if through simple 10-minute scenes, which works well for the length of this game.

Obviously, it also goes without saying that the soundtrack is both iconic and incredible to this day. It’s eclectic in the wide usage of sound fonts and motifs but it sets the game apart and is IMO some of the best you can find in the medium. It’s hard to even highlight specific tracks because they are so many bangers. If I had to pick, a couple of my favorites are Waterfall, Another Medium, Bergentrückung, Finale, Hopes and Dreams, Battle Against a True Hero, the title track, An Ending, and Respite.

I think what I most held under scrutiny when revisiting the game was the writing and story. Does it hold up? I would say that it does, but not entirely. I feel elements of the humor definitely didn't age as well, which I expected. Papyrus’s high-strung and overly naive/boastful personality clashing with Sans's laid-back and absurd jokes works, but the humor sort of loses its groove as you enter Hotland. I didn’t find Alphys’s clumsy sheepishness that funny, especially in conjunction with the weaker setpieces of Mettaton’s kinda repetitive TV show, and there are other segments that just don’t really work as well. Even so, when the jokes didn't land in the way they were intended, it sort of worked sometimes as a form of anti-humor as it can get really silly. It’s perfectly understandable that this would put someone off enjoying the game though, it occupies a LOT of the runtime and if it doesn’t work for you, I don’t think you’re likely to finish the game.

However, if you can handle the game's unabashedly eccentric tone and characters, they are very likable. I think the best way to describe them is very personable and distinct, if not particularly deep character portraits (it is like a 6-hour game per playthrough, I'm not expecting much). I think this is entirely subjective, but there's a sort of twee sincerity to the tone of the game that made the humor fit in better (even when it’s not really funny) and boosts the more emotional moments (and I think for me this is where a lot of games of this type fail to hit the mark, that they just aren’t really as “sincere” to me). The more involved setpieces, especially near the end of the game are where the writing shines best for me and combining it with the soundtrack and charming characters makes it very effective. True Pacifist was as sentimental and heartwarming as I remember it being.

The game thematically is still very well done as a rejection of the standard JRPG gameplay of mindlessly killing rows of nameless husks. Is it subtle? Absolutely not. Is it effective though? I think so. Little touches like the game chastising the player if you reset a previous run due to killing someone and generally being cognizant of what you’ve done and how that impacts people helps convey the message the game is trying to deliver (the Neutral endings, in particular, being a smart but inexpensive way to personalize each possible route depending on who you spared). I find its critique of the player’s choices on the genocide run especially effective as the game knows most people's motivation is borne of curiosity and completionism rather than hatred (even down to critiquing those who simply choose to watch those playthroughs as "sickos that stand around and WATCH it happen… but are too weak to do it themselves. I bet someone like that’s watching right now, aren’t they?"). I wouldn’t say the game is a complete deconstruction of the JRPG more that it satirizes and manipulates specific tropes (ex. having “monsters” that do not act like malicious, thoughtless creatures, the EXP/LV twist, SAVE/LOADing). In that sense, I think the meta elements take a backseat and isn’t as developed as the more focused and effective commentary on player morality, but both work well.

I will have to say I think the only part where the game confuses itself narratively and thematically is with The Fallen Human (the one you name) and their role in the story. A big twist is that you expect to name the character after the one you’re controlling (like most JRPGs), but you’re actually naming the first human who fell down (whereas the protagonist is the 7th). In Genocide, they’re used sort of as a representation of the satisfaction of when a JRPG player’s stats rise when winning a fight. IMO it seems like commentary on the bloodlusted design of JRPGs, and so, given how you just played, it feels like you’re meant to be one and the same (especially with the way Flowey refers to the player by the Fallen Human’s name in all routes, not just Genocide). However, their backstory shows they’re their own character who was important to the Underground, and who had their own issues with morality. I’m not sure if they’re meant to be a character who suffered a poor childhood leading to their fall that we should have some empathy for, if they’re simply a representation of remorseless violence committed by the player in JRPGs, or both? Maybe I missed something, but it feels like the game sort of wants to have its cake and eat it too in that regard. It’s a minor element though.

Ultimately it feels like this game is greater than the sum of its, to quote Toby himself, “8/10, niche RPG” parts, even nearing 7 years removed from its release. I do have to knock it for some of its messier qualities, like it not being as funny today, it being relatively basic gameplay-wise (fun as it was), and some quibbles with minor thematic and story elements (True Lab in particular coming out of nowhere). If you can get over its notable flaws, though, it does enough to set it apart and above most of its contemporaries, including some of its inspirations. For the size of its dev team, it’s remarkably ambitious, it’s thematically solid, its characters affable, and it wears its heart on its sleeve (or quite literally, on its desktop icon). This game left an indelible mark on the gaming industry, especially in the indie scene, and regardless of what comes next for this type of indie RPG, this franchise, and Toby himself, I’m both glad to have played and revisited it all this time later, taking me back to a time where things just felt less jaded. Its honesty, whimsicality, and unique atmosphere still make it worth experiencing in 2022, spoiled or not. Despite everything, it's still Undertale, even after all these years.
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earthandspace 2021-05-07T19:43:49Z
2021-05-07T19:43:49Z
4.5
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Insert the usual "please play this game before reading too much about it if you're interested at all" disclaimer. It's the kind of game best experienced with no foreknowledge; hard these days, I know. At first, I thought I was going to say this was good, but not great at the end of the year. Reflection, replays, and watching others play have done wonders for ensuring its position as my favorite game released in 2015. Undertale is one of the most intelligently crafted games I have ever played. The amount of thought and detail that went in to the experience is not possible to understand in full without spending extra time on the game, but it truly blew my mind and sucked me in to this world. Undertale also has a remarkable soundtrack, easily my favorite since Nier. More game composers need to use leitmotif--it fits the medium of games so well, but tends to get passed up in recent games.

While bullet hell is not a genre of games I generally enjoy, I thought Undertale did a great job combining it with traditional RPG mechanics, and the conversation system (I assume inspired by Shin Megami Tensei) adds an extra layer that succeeds in making the monsters you face seem like things that actually exist beyond the battle screen, whereas in SMT the conversations seem randomly generated at times. There is a lot I can say about Undertale, but the true secret of its success is in characterization. I have not been this deeply attached to a video game's cast... ever? Chrono Trigger may come the closest, but even then I would have to give Undertale the nod. I actually cared about every major character in this game by the end of my experience with it, even the one I initially hated, and it's no easy feat for a writer to achieve this with a snarky jerk like me. If you have been put off this game by its fanbase and the internet hate machine, I urge you to try and put biases aside (maybe in a year or two) and at least try the demo, though I can understand if it isn't for everyone. This game ended up being one of the most profound works I experienced all year and I haven't felt the same about games ever since. In my book, that makes it truly special.
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jsh357 2016-04-02T21:34:53Z
2016-04-02T21:34:53Z
5.0
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Undertale is an rpg greatly inspired by the playful, fourth wall bending fare of games like Paper Mario and the Thousand Year Door, and especially the Earthbound series, although in some places Undertale goes far beyond and almost borders on deconstruction.

While the main appeal of the game; the few times when it goes out of left field and really confronts the player, are notable, the vast majority of the game's narrative is unfortunately the haphazard, irritating, melodramatic, strewn together, Homestuck tripe from which almost all story based rpgs have been made of since square one. At times it feels like the head of Watchmen or Evangelion had been grafted onto the body of an Animal Crossing fanfic and it’s honestly jarring.

The game features some of the better fighting mechanics in role playing games. The bullet hell fighting system is fun, well put together, and bypasses all of the problems with both turn based and action rpgs. The vast majority of enemies won’t pose much of a problem if you stock up on items, reach the generous amount of savepoints often, and don’t deliberately run into every bullet on the screen, although the optional choice the game pushes on you of playing a pacifist presents an interesting challenge. The puzzles are rather weak sauce when they aren't just chores designed to pan out the gameplay.

There are some moments where the bit-art graphics are obviously made to inspire, oscar-bait style, but the vast majority is consistently bland. If this game is meant to be a tribute to the golden age of the SNES, it severely underestimates the artwork of the SNES.

In general, the few narrative flourishes of Undertale and the subtexts hidden throughout the world are masterful, the best in gaming, but the game surrounding it is rather mediocre. At least putting some of your energy into playing peacefully is highly recommended, and it's easy not to get the full experience out of your session.
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VietBrieves 2016-04-02T23:07:35Z
2016-04-02T23:07:35Z
3.0
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After nearly a decade, it stands to say that Undertale, at thge core, is a work of fanfcition as Toby fox sees it, retroactively disguised as a mmassic and original series. that's the hook.
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Catalog

Foppishcrow Undertale 2024-04-23T18:40:07Z
2024-04-23T18:40:07Z
5.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
ticketstoxboxlive Undertale 2024-04-22T03:06:39Z
2024-04-22T03:06:39Z
5.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Scott_Szerencsi Undertale 2024-04-21T23:58:51Z
2024-04-21T23:58:51Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
sergeantjustin Undertale 2024-04-21T22:31:06Z
2024-04-21T22:31:06Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
AndrewSwift Undertale 2024-04-21T22:15:09Z
2024-04-21T22:15:09Z
5.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
mothwitch Undertale 2024-04-21T14:56:35Z
2024-04-21T14:56:35Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
ryalbright Undertale 2024-04-21T06:01:06Z
2024-04-21T06:01:06Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Helios1 Undertale 2024-04-21T01:34:35Z
2024-04-21T01:34:35Z
41 /100
3
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
wish i could play blind again fuck the earlygame gets old fast
pkbean Undertale 2024-04-20T08:51:44Z
2024-04-20T08:51:44Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
modiflied Undertale 2024-04-20T05:11:21Z
2024-04-20T05:11:21Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
worldfell Undertale 2024-04-19T06:38:14Z
2024-04-19T06:38:14Z
3.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Greenballas Undertale 2024-04-19T03:42:18Z
2024-04-19T03:42:18Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
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  • Previous comments (271) Loading...
  • Dooflyyyyyyyyyyy 2024-03-07 22:58:36.668168+00
    Incredible on replay. Awesome characters, environments, and mechanics, but the narrative is a little choppy.
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  • RiskR 2024-03-13 11:25:33.394941+00
    Really sad that this masterpiece will always have a bit of it’s legacy tarnished because of its fanbase and people who hated the game for being popular
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  • youarefuckingcrazy 2024-03-14 22:46:54.254304+00
    the real problem with this becoming so popular is that a lot of what makes it interesting (or what would have been interesting) is discovering things for yourself, how the game changes in different playthroughs based on the different actions you take. there's a massive variety of choices at your disposal and they all lead to different effects and outcomes, but the mystery in finding them is all gone. at least for me, as a person who wasted the majority of their preteen years looking at undertale fan content. i mean the game doesn't even tell you the mechanics of the pacifist and genocide run, nor are those even official, given names in-game, they were something that you'd have to discover for yourself--or at least you would've, if the game wasn't so popular
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    • Frull 2024-03-27 00:00:14.220231+00
      idk, i was 12 in 2015 so naturally Undertale was utterly inescapable, like i was in the most prime demographic possible to have the game ruined for me by all of the noise that surrounded it, and yet, despite only getting around to playing it finally in 2020, it was a completely fresh, even dumbfounding and rapturous experience. it was definitely a concern i had going in because naturally i had learnt a LOT about the game over the years despite never watching a full let's play or anything, but the prior knowledge didn't even remotely negate the experience. so yeah, i guess you did just consume too much content lol
    • gjelly 2024-04-12 13:13:45.687261+00
      I dunno man, I first played this game in 2021 and outside of like... a Game Theory video I didn't know any spoilers
    • gjelly 2024-04-12 13:14:16.085921+00
      Plus, even with the stuff I already knew, the game was still very emotionally moving. It's just that good of a game
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  • CircoBondi 2024-03-25 19:37:22.507315+00
    Holy shit why havent I played this before
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  • godkillgod1 2024-03-28 22:10:08.125187+00
    aged like milk
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  • BIG_EGG 2024-04-04 11:38:59.114768+00
    ^fake
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  • ABG_GAMING 2024-04-14 04:18:18.148656+00
    i absolutely HATE the trend in video games where the game tries to teach you a lesson about how violence is bad without actually going into it in depth. it would be the best if a game actually explored violence in depth while confronting the audiences innate desire to commit horrible actions. but istg most games just do it in a simple way that doesn't challenge anything and they treat the player like a baby.

    at least in my relatively short experience and small knowledge with video games, most of the ones that choose to tackle violence just go "violence is bad because if you are violent then you get the bad ending, you don't want the bad ending do you?" and it kinda blows imo.
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    • ABG_GAMING 2024-04-15 22:12:05.176546+00
      yeah i haven't played it, this opinion is built on what i've heard from 9 years of listening to people talk about it and avoiding it 💯
    • MisteroO 2024-04-21 11:08:38.460072+00
      i agree with your point on "violence = le bad ending", but like, underale is different thing
      it has a relatively simple story that's not supposed to be all that deep and morally grey, simplicity is part of the charm here
    • dzhakh 2024-04-22 12:17:22.211171+00
      I heard someone call Undertale a morality fable for young adults and the more I think about it the more that seems like a good description. Not necessarily a bad thing btw.
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