A small child falls into the Underground, where monsters have long been banished by humans and are hunting every human that they find. The player controls the child as they try to make it back to the Surface through hostile environments, all the while engaging with a turn-based combat system with puzzle-solving and bullet hell elements, as well as other unconventional game mechanics.
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This review contains spoilers
Man I cannot believe I put off finishing this game for so long. I started this game some time in 2017 I think? I played about halfway through before getting bored and letting the game sit in my Steam library for 4 years. I picked it back up on a whim, and I'm really glad.
Undertale is a marvelous game from nearly every perspective. The art, music, story, characters, world, it's all incredible. You don't need me to tell you that. Even critics of the game agree that the art and music are a cut above the rest.
But Undertale is more than that. Hell, it's even more than just a neat work of metafiction. Undertale is a game about how you interact with games. The first time I played this game in 2017, I was not a fan. I killed monsters as I felt like it, and saved them when there was an easy opportunity for me to do so. But coming back to this game, removed from the admittedly aggressive internet subculture it spawned, I found myself a lot more willing to play on the game's terms. I killed Toriel initially, and regretted doing so immediately. When I went back and reloaded the game, and saved her, Flowey called me out on it. And when that happened, I knew I had to play the game pacifist, which I initially didn't even plan to do. But I sure am glad I did.
Finishing the game as a true pacifist allows you to meet the character of Asriel. Fans of this game gush about how much they love these characters often, and while they didn't connect me with as much as they did with others apparently, Asriel jumped out at me as one of the most interesting villains to ever be in a videogame. A character so lonely and desperate they toy not with the protagonist to keep them playing, but the player themselves. Flowey encourages you to play the game in new ways just so there is someone to keep him company. Even if it's someone who hates him. Because Asriel believes himself to be unlovable. That the world is a cruel place, in which you must "kill or be killed". That resonated with me. There are a lot of parts of my life where I've felt like Asriel does. Like when I first played this game nack in 2017. Sparing him and seeing him finally accept that there is something worth feeling for, something worth loving for, was absolutely heart breaking for me.
The only reason Undertale doesn't get a 10/10 from me is that it's sense of humor just really doesn't land with me, and it's just not something you can ignore in this game. Other than that, amazing from start to finish. I also didn't have the heart to do a genocide run, though in some ways, I don't think the game needs you to. maybe it's okay to interact with a game, love it, and then set it down without experiencing all of it.
immense impact on my mind. i cant say anything original about it but that won't stop me from trying (😳 unless?). also this is legit just homestuck for gamers (or people who don't have 200 hours to dump into an interactive media project that is mostly just like reading a play). unbelievably good game. so accessible, tender, and charming. takes itself a little too seriously.