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Undertale Review: An 8-bit RPG with a twist
Posted on January 10, 2016 by Evie Vallejo

Toby Fox first made himself known to the public with his ROM hack, “Press the B Button, Stupid!” for an Earthbound Halloween Pack back in 2008. With the help of artist Temmie Chang, he created a game that will take you back in time with its 8-bit look, music and turn-based fighting called Undertale. There is a twist to the game: nobody has to die. 


Once Upon a Time - Undertale has a simple story. You are a human who fell into a hole that leads to a whole other world.  Well, actually, it’s the same world, only underground. In this underground world, monsters reside and live like everyday humans. You have to find your way out before other monsters find you and take you to King Asgore who wants human souls so he can break the barrier to the Human world and wage a war among them for keeping his people underground. As you go along, you get more of the story to why he wants to get rid of humanity.

The simplicity and originality of the story is what made me love it There are no complex storylines that involve time travel, or other nonsense. There are both light and dark themes within the story and the one thing I could not get over in my playthrough was the ending I got. 

Live or Let Die - Like many RPGs in the past, Undertale is turn based with a twist. You can choose to fight your enemy, talk to your enemy, spare them or run away. Choosing to talk to your enemy can cause them to become apathetic about fighting you or they will choose not to fight in which case you can spare them and let them live. How you choose to deal with an enemy is up to you.

Killing enemies, however, can cause fights to become much harder. The game sees you as leveling up, getting stronger, so it will throw more things at you and monsters will hit a lot harder. This was one of the things that actually made me feel bad about fighting an enemy. There are a few characters that have no desire to fight, but if you fight them, well they’re gone forever. It actually took me a bit to figure out how to use the Mercy Action, because I never talked to any of the enemies.

As a person who knows that fighting enemies means leveling up and getting currency to buy items, I ended up killing every monster in the beginning even though I felt bad about how some of the monsters interacted. Some just don’t what to fight. It made me more conscious about my actions. Hurting another monster evoked my emotions and I liked that it did.

Modern Chiptunes - Undertale has nostalgic music, but it also has a modern take to it. I absolutely love the soundtrack to this game.  It’s fun, and it goes along with the environment and tone when appropriate. The songs are done where it does have chiptune sounds but much more complicated with some piano or other instruments, rather than just basic tunes looped over and over. 

They’ve Got Personalities - The characters in Undertale are unique in their own way. The townspeople and characters who come across in the story have their own personalities. They range from being nurturing or motherly type figures to murderous soldier to fulfill their duty to the kingdom. Meeting the characters, you get to know them a little more as you interact with them, and you start to get an attachment for them as well.  They’re just very well rounded characters and enjoyable. I loved the humor the characters have and how funny they were, and at the same time they all had some kind of inner conflict. One of the characters I fell in love with was this cute little monster who is very self-conscious with her decisions and always second guessing herself, but the fact that she was an otaku was really silly and cute. 


Not much of an Enigma - Since Undertale focuses on story, the puzzles are easy.  I finished them fairly quickly, and they are pretty simple to complete. For instance, one of the puzzles is walking around a series of X’s to create O’s but you can only step on the X’s once. It’s one of those puzzles where if you don’t step on all of them, you have to start all over again or if you misstep it doesn’t work, but you can easily figure out the pattern. It’s not frustrating, but who wants a frustrating game? I just wish there was more of a challenge, and much more of thought put into it a little more where I would need to think on how this puzzle should work or what item do I need to grab for this to work.

It’s Kind of a Cluster - I know I liked the battle mechanics, however, the fighting had something I didn’t like and that was actually moving around to dodge attacks. That’s fine when you’re against one enemy and you know that enemy’s pattern, but when you’re facing two enemies and they have attacks that require you to know patterns and how to dodge them, the little box you’re trying to move around it gets clustered. It keeps you on your toes, sure, but after a while it was hard to keep up with the moves that I would mess up and get hit multiple times in one turn. This could have been because I did fight and attack, that the fights were getting tougher as I went on, but I can’t be too certain that it doesn’t happen in a full pacifist run.

Undertale is full of good characters, has a great story, some fun battle mechanics, and fantastic music.  It’s humorous but it does have a serious side that can evoke emotion.  This game is more about story than it is about solving puzzles. I loved the humor it had with the characters mostly. I loved that it brings a little bit of that nostalgia to classic 8-bit RPGs. if you want to see the different endings and how your characters ended up then you will be compelled to play again. Although the puzzles were a bit too easy, Undertale is a fantastic game to play if you love story and decisions that have consequences.   

*This review was based on the PC version of the game with a review code provided by the publisher.

Evie Vallejo - Staff Writer evie (@) | all author's articles

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