Undertale is a roleplaying game developed by independent creator Toby Fox. It was released on September 15, 2015. It started as a Kickstarter campaign on June 23, 2013 and earned $51,314 dollars in donations, greatly above the initial $5,000 goal.
The premise of Undertale is simple. A young child falls down a hole and enters an underground kingdom of monsters. Their goal is to make it through this place and return to the surface. Being stuck in a society of monsters may sound like a very terrifying struggle of life and death, but it’s anything but. Most creatures in the game, ranging from frogs to dogs in armor, are quirky and lovable. In fact, The “battles” against them don’t have to be violent.
That’s right. The main gimmick in this game is that you can complete it without killing anyone at all. However, not killing enemies means you won’t get experience points, making the various “bullet hell” sequences much more stressful since you won’t have as much health. Regardless, the game will track your behavior throughout, and it change depending on your actions. That’s all I’ll say… Actually, I’ll say one thing. It’s a very engaging way of combining storytelling with game mechanics that subverts expectations of a traditional RPG. Toby Fox made Earthbound (known as Mother in Japan) fan games, so it’s no surprise that influence rubbed off on his original work, hoping it would pay off.
And it payed off greatly. Undertale was a critical and commercial success, selling over three million copies on PC according to VGChartz. Critics and players praised the humor, characters, and music. The soundtrack in particular full of catchy tunes and clever use of music techniques like leitmotif. Some of my favorite (non spoiler-y) tracks are “Ruins,” “Another Medium” and “Ghost Fight.” There’s also a lot of covers of songs on youtube. I would not be surprised if people could fill up an entire hard drive with Undertale covers. It’s funny how a soundtrack became so iconic from a self taught musician that, according to him, was made “using free soundfonts + synths.”
Though Toby Fox was the main developer of the game, he was not the only one who worked on it. One person I want to highlight illustrator Temmie Chang, the game’s main artist. She was responsible for designing character sprites and the overworld among other things. She even had a cameo in the title itself as the eccentric creature named after her. I enjoy her work and recommend checking out her tumblr page. Her online presence is a delight.
Speaking of online presence, Undertale is known for its large, vocal online fanbase. This includes the memes of in-game jokes to requesting characters in other series’. For example, it was a big online moment when the supporting “sans the skeleton” was confirmed as a Mii Costume for Super Smash Bros Ultimate. However, there have been instances like judging people for playing a certain way that have left a bad taste in people’s mouths. Personally, I never interact with fan communities in general, so I do not have a real answer or opinion about this, but I wanted to acknowledge it. My enjoyment of the game is my own.
I played it on my brother’s desktop about a month after the game launched. The only reason I heard about it was that a youtube channel I liked recommended it and said I should go in with no expectations. I did just that and loved every second of it. It’s honestly one of my favorite games of this current console generation. What I got out of it the most was how it showed that even if it can be difficult with no reward, being kind to others is a reward in it of itself. Trying to show compassion can be a good thing, but it can take effort sometimes. I’ve played video games all my life, but I never expected to be moved that way by one . But that’s my experience. Maybe others think differently than me, and that’s one of the unique aspects of the game adapting to player behavior.
If this game interests you at all, it’s available on Switch, PS4, Vita and PC. It’s usually priced around $10-15, but it’s on sale often if you don’t want to spend that much. But if you do try it, play it your way and without expectations. There’s no right way to experience it, so make of it what you will.
dw here! Thanks for reading. This is my first OT header, so I was a little nervous signing up for it. But I really wanted to talk about a game that means a lot to me on its anniversary. Happy posting and have a great day!
P.S. If you’re curious, my favorite character is Papyrus.
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