Undertale is an indie RPG. The game was developed by Toby Fox, a self-taught designer and composer. Additional artistic assistance was provided by Temmie Chang, responsible for most of the concept graphics and sprites. Undertale was developed using the GameMaker: Studio tool. The design was kept in the style of retro 8-bit games, and the music composed by the author - as many as 100 different tracks - is reminiscent of the era of 2D RPGs from the NES.
A long time ago two races: humans and monsters ruled the Earth, coexisting peacefully. Eventually a conflict arose which resulted in a long and cruel war. Humans were victorious and thanks to magic they put the monsters underground. Many years later a girl, disregarding the legends circulating, sets out for Ebott, a mountain from which no one has yet returned. Seeking shelter from the rain, she falls into a mysterious burrow. This is where the action of Undertale begins.
During gameplay we find ourselves in an underground world full of monsters, but after just a few minutes we realise that they are not just hordes of mindless adversaries that the game throws at us as part of the next obstacle to overcome. Undertale is a game where the storytelling is the essence of the whole experience. One of the key elements is the very distinct characters.
The user is offered a rather unique combination of styles. On the one hand, you are involved in a rather serious story, full of twists, heavy themes and mysteries. On the other hand, the writing style itself is highly original and filled with somewhat eccentric, self-aware humour combining visual jokes, witty dialogues, funny situations and bizarre behaviour of the "opponents". Sometimes a character's name is the same as the name of the font used in their speech, sometimes it appears that the big bad boss is getting information about horrible people from at least a comical source. This makes it very difficult to find a dull moment in Undertale.
To get the full story, the game should be played several times. Depending on the decisions you make, the tone changes quite dramatically and it's only in the differences between the various playthroughs that you really get a feel for all aspects of the NPCs Fox has created.
The game boasts the motto "a friendly RPG where no one has to die", and indeed, from the opening screen to the closing credits, you can effectively restrain your murderous urges ("Pacifist Run"). On the other hand, if the player is merciless to the inhabitants of the underworld for a long time ( "Genocide Run"), each successive battle becomes more surprising and challenging than the previous one.
The game in a rather twisted way pretends to be an old-school RPG and at first glance seems simple and rather shallow. Only after a longer contact with the game, the player is introduced to more and more interesting mechanics, which often surprise with an unusual use of popular concepts.
Apart from dialogues, exploration and the occasional puzzles, the basic element of the game is the combat system, which is a combination of many mechanics from the recent past of video games. Battles are based on a turn-based system, somewhat reminiscent of Super Mario RPG or the Mario & Luigi series.
During the opponent's phase, we must deftly dodge massed attacks, launched at the symbolically represented hero's heart, placed on a small square board. The precision required reminds us of challenges from bullet hell titles such as the Touhou Project series. During your turn, you can opt for forceful solutions and defeat monsters in a final way, thanks to which you gain experience points and grow in strength like in a classic RPG. Each battle, however, offers the possibility of conversation and influence on the enemy, which is close to solutions known from the Shin Megami Tensei series, in which we can pact with enemy demons in order to avoid combat. In Undertale, an accurate compliment can work just as well as a sword.
Fox can also play with the game mechanics. Comedy elements can result directly from the misrepresentation of expected interactions with the interface. What would happen if, in a normal RPG, a character tried to purchase an item without having room in their inventory? The player would probably be informed that the purchase is not possible. In Undertale, when you fill your pockets with items and try to buy a hot dog, a familiar shopkeeper will thoughtfully place it on your head.
Fox started out as a serial user on the starmen.net forum, a fan site dedicated to the Japanese Mother series, known in the west as EarthBound. Although Undertale is the author's first project, he also developed the Earthbound ROM hack (The Halloween Hack), which in many ways was the prototype for his full-fledged debut.
Initially, Fox worked on a demo version of the game - in May 2013 he uploaded it to Fangamer, where the concept gained a lot of publicity during a gameplay stream. The full version of Undertale was launched as a project on Kickstarter on 25 June 2013. The croudfunding campaign ended with $51,000, which was about 1000% of the target amount.
Game mode: single player
User score: 8,4 / 10 based on 3235 votes.
Pre-release expectations: 7.8 / 10 based on 190 votes.
PEGI rating Undertale