Undertale (2015, PC/Mac) review — Games

I’m not usually the type to play through a game more than once. Even with the promise of multiple endings or unlockable secrets, once is usually more than enough to satiate my appetite. Yet in less than one week, I’ve played Undertale to completion twice, and I’m already jonesing for more.

If you’re into gaming at all, you’ve no doubt had many people talk your ear off about how great Undertate is, and those people are 100% right. In case you’re completely clueless, Undertale is a Earthbound-inspired RPG noted for its innovative combat, quirky sense of humor, branching plotlines and terrific score.

I never knew I needed tsundere planes in my life, but I did.

The combat system is the first thing that jumps out at you. On offense, you can fight enemies until their HP runs out like in a normal RPG, or you can choose from several interactions to convince your enemy not to fight anymore. The method of placating each enemy is unique and it’s a lot of fun trying to figure them all out.

On defense, the game switches to brief bullet hell segments where you have to avoid enemy projectiles. Again, each enemy is unique and most of them have multiple attacks.

What really sets Undertale apart, however, is its characters. Set in a world of literal outcasts and monsters, Undertale is full of lovable misfits. It’s not just that they’re goofy to the point of being laugh-out-loud funny, but that they’re all extremely relatable.

In one way or another, each of them is flawed and they all just want the same things we all want: to do right by the people we care about, to feel good about ourselves, and to have a good time. The cast might be two-dimensional, both literally and figuratively, but I defy you to play this game and not wish you could be friends with some of them.

Yes, Virginia, anime is real.

Which brings us to the three different routes of the game: Neutral, Genocide and True Pacifist. As the name suggested, the neutral route is the default mode of game and has several different endings depending on the choices you make and which enemies you kill.

The true pacifist route requires that you go the whole game without killing a single enemy and is required to achieve the best ending. For my first run through, this is the route I chose.

Since you’re stuck on Lv. 1 the whole game some of the bosses can be a bit challenging (save the butterscotch pie for your fight with Asgore), but it didn’t give me too much trouble, and ultimately I think this route is the most rewarding.

(Technically you have to beat the neutral route to unlock the final mission for true pacifist, but after beating the final boss you can just load up your last save and finish true pacifist from there.)

The final route, genocide, requires that grind random encounters in each area until every character dies or goes into hiding. On my first attempt, I got about three-fourths through the game before realizing I was doing it wrong and had to start again.

The grinding can get really repetitive especially as encounters get less frequent the more enemies you kill. However, the hardest part is brutally killing all the characters you’ve grown attached to the first time around. Well, maybe second hardest…

You really do.

On genocide route, all of the puzzle are disabled and most of the bosses go down in one hit, but there are two exceptions: Undyne the Undying and the final boss, Sans. These are by far the hardest bosses in the game. I could only beat Undyne by using a save-editor and even cheating I couldn’t beat Sans. Some people need to face him more than fifty times to beat him, and I just don’t have that much determination.

(Also, make sure you complete the true pacifist route before beating genocide, as the latter removes the possibility of seeing the best ending without manually editing the game data.)

Undertale is undoubtedly one of the best games of the year, and has quickly become one of my all-time favorites. I could gush on it all day but you really just need to play it for yourself. The game is only $10 on Steam, so what are you waiting for?

As for me, I need to finally knock Earthbound off my to-play list.

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