Video Games: Why “Undertale” is Still Worth Playing

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is undertale.jpg
Screenshot from 2015’s “Undertale”. Copyright of Toby Fox.

Hey! Hallie here!

I’m sure many “Undertale” fans already know this, but we’re quickly approaching the game’s 5th anniversary. Amidst all of the announcements I felt it was only right to return to the video game that started my obsession with video games. I had played games before “Undertale”, but “Undertale” made me want to buy an actual game system. I’m completely aware of the various reasons why some have steered away from this game, especially after interacting with some of the more infamous parts of the fan base. But if you’ve let the actions of the worst of the fans steer you away from this amazing game, it may be time to reconsider. Not only are we anticipating more installments to the franchise, but it’s messages are still incredibly valid five years later.

So why should you pick up the game right now?

The Player’s Influence: This is probably what the game is most popular for. This is also probably the hardest piece to explain without any spoilers, and as I’m venturing for this to be a spoiler-free discussion, I won’t give anything away. Just, if you haven’t played the game, PLEASE go in blind. It’s worth it. This game doesn’t have choices like many other player-influenced games, but don’t let that fool you. Your actions do matter, and characters will treat you differently based on how you decide to play. Making a rash decision can start you down a dangerous path, and you’re just as easily able to make enemies as you are friends. The way this game involves the player is so sneakily done that you won’t even notice how much impact you have at first. After you’re a few hours into this game, however, you will absolutely start questioning your morals.

The Characters: The art style of this game is adorable and quite deceptive. The characters may look simple and cute, but there’s much more depth to every character than meets the eye. The game doesn’t even try to hide from you how little you know from appearances. The very first scene of the game the player meets a flower named Flowey. Cute, right? Come back to me after you meet him. Another example is Sans the skeleton. If you know anything about “Undertale”, you know Sans. He’s a squat little skeleton, known for his love of hot dogs and general laziness. But as you get deeper into the game you realize Sans has a much darker side. He’s not someone you want to piss off, and it’s not just because he has a temper. You’ll be rewarded for getting to know these characters and trust me, you’ll need more than one playthrough to learn everything about them.

The Soundtrack: Toby Fox, the creator of the game, also composed the music for the game. He’s unfairly talented. Each new area you enter has it’s own theme to fully immerse you into the new landscape. Snowdin sounds like Christmas. Waterfall’s tinkling notes remind me of rain. The soundtrack blends in so seamlessly with the background that you’ll appreciate it without even noticing it’s there. Each character also has their own theme. The themes match with the character’s personalities so well that I can’t even look at a character without getting their song stuck in my head. If you haven’t listened to any of the soundtrack, at least go listen to “Megalovania”. It absolutely wrecks what you think can be done with the soundtrack of an old-school style video game.

The Humor: This game is hilariously funny. It succeeds impressively at being both dark, and chalk-full of goofiness. Don’t get me wrong, most of the jokes in this are bad jokes. Not slapstick, thankfully, but still bad. But they’re the good kind of bad jokes. The jokes so stupid, you can’t help but laugh. Between Sans’ skeleton puns and Napstablook saying “zzz” out loud to pretend he’s asleep, there’s always something that can make me laugh on bad days. And the best part? The game is completely self aware. It doesn’t aim for comedy that makes you think. It aims for comedy that will make you laugh purely for how magnificently meta and dumb it is.

The Style: I’ve mentioned it’s old school design and cute characters above, but it’s really worth talking about the entire design of this game. The style calls back to old 8-bit games, but with vibrant colors and unique character designs. The color palate is so gorgeous that I legitimately paused for several minutes to stare at the flowers in one of the final rooms. Also, the sheer amount of characters in this game, especially counting the monsters you meet in combat, is impressive, and none look even remotely the same. (Aaron, the horse with both a snake tail and huge muscles, is one of my favorites). Some of the credit for the design goes to Toby Fox, he’s really THAT talented, but some of it also goes to Temmie Chang. Temmie even has her own creature in the game thanks to her contributions. They’re appropriately called Temmie’s and they’re adorable, so keep your eye out for them!

The Gameplay: The gameplay isn’t really what you expect going into it. Each combat round takes you into a separate black and white screen where you face off against monster attacks as, wait for it, your own heart. You can take actions, like telling the monsters a joke, or you can decide to simply fight back. All that while trying to dodge attacks from inside a small, white, box. It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s very fulfilling. The game teaches you how to dodge new attacks as you move along in the story, and eventually you have to learn to react faster and faster as boss battles demand more from you. At times the system can be frustrating, but with enough practice you’ll be proud of what you can accomplish.

These are only a few of my favorite things in the game. Maybe I’ll make a spoilery post down the line to talk about all of the amazing twists and turns that made me love this game. But, for now, I hope I gave you a few good reasons to check this game out. And if you’ve already played “Undertale”, first of all, you have my respect. Secondly, what are you doing here? It’s almost “Undertale”‘s 5th anniversary. Go hang out with Sans at Grillby’s or something!

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

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