One advantage smaller/indie games have over high-budget titles is the ability to be different. When you’re spending millions on a project, it needs to sell and it needs to sell well. While the same is true for smaller/indie games, the numbers they need to hit are much lower, so they can make choices some people might not care for and still find success. Among these titles is the PC hit Undertale. This RPG gives players the ability to beat the game without killing anyone, with the option to kill or find their own path. With quirky characters, a charming story and unique mechanics, is Undertale a game that PlayStation gamers need to experience or is it more hype than substance?
Undertale tells a simple story about a human that becomes trapped underground where all the monsters are sealed. While the protagonist wants to go home, the monsters need the human’s soul so they can lift the seal and be free to roam on the surface. It’s a simple story that serves as a narrative and driving force for the adventure.
Even though the monsters are, well, monsters, most are depicted as misunderstood or victims of circumstance. Several don’t want to hurt the human, but many need that hope and the only way to achieve their goal is with the power of seven human souls.
What stands out about Undertale is that it’s a story about emotions more than anything else. Sure, there is a constant narrative, that has a couple endings based off how you approach enemies, but some of the best twists and moments stem from understanding the enemy’s perspective. Be it Toriel wanting to rebuild her family, Sans looking to support his brother or Papyrus looking for friendship, it makes for a relatable experience, which is likely why Undertale has resonated with so many people.
Another aspect that makes Undertale unique, is how combat is approached. Players have the choice to talk through most conflicts and show mercy or simply kill everything. Both have their own unique challenges, like pacifist can make certain fights hard to figure out and genocide limits the additional challenges, but they also have their own strengths.
Fighting enemies is performed by selecting attack and then a slider will appear with a bar that goes across it. Where it stops will determine how much damage that attack performs, making it crucial to master the timing. If fighting isn’t enjoyable, there is always the peaceful approach.
To conquer enemies with words, players need to figure out how they’re suppose to approach the situation and then do it. Solving these puzzles vary, as some have dialogue that give fairly direct clues, where as others can be solved by looking at the enemy or understanding their gimmick. For instance, the woman that looks like a siren requires players to sing, the buff guy needs to lose a flexing contest and so forth. These make for an interesting challenge, along with offering different dialogue and experiences from outright killing everything.
While both modes offer their own challenges, with pacifist being surprisingly accessible, the experience is far from perfect. Unless players want to explore the world, revisit places and see everything Undertale has to offer, the story can be completed in a couple of hours. This number can be increased to around 10 hours by doing the other storylines, but this depends on how important another playthrough for a different ending and dialogue is.
In addition to that, Undertale does many of the unique aspects right, but some of the puzzles are on the esoteric side. One of the bosses requires giving the same response like 20 times, with another requiring players to flee and figure out where to go. Thankfully, there are resources with the solutions or as many attempts as it takes to figure out, but some aspects don’t see to be incorporated as well as other parts.
Undertale might have some rough parts, but it’s an interesting experience. The characters have personality, the world is built up enough to make the interactions matter and some of the moments are genuinely touching, with a dash of humor. If the esoteric puzzles and short play time aren’t a problem, then Undertale is certainly a game to look into. However, if you’re looking for a traditional RPG, don’t care for emotional journeys or exploring, then Undertale probably isn’t for you.
[Editor’s Note: Undertale was reviewed on PS4 platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]Undertale (PS4) Review,