Undertale Review – ‘A gaming world revelation’

[dropcap]S[/dropcap]ince its release in 2015, indie role-playing game Undertale has been heralded as a triumph and revelation in the gaming world. The game has since won its fair share of awards and acclaim. It ranked 9th on the video games list in Time’s ‘Top 10 Everything of 2015’. It came third in The Boar’s Game of the Year countdown where it was declared to be “an icon of indie gaming” and “one of the most unique and compelling RPGs ever created”. Most notably, it even somehow won GameFAQs’ Best Game Ever poll over classics such as The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Super Mario Bros 3.

 

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So why did Undertale become the surprise gaming hit of 2015? At first glance, it appears to be your standard indie RPG adventure. The game’s story follows a child as they travel through the secluded region of the Underground, which lies beneath the surface of the Earth. Throughout your adventure you encounter ‘monsters’, a group of creatures who have been exiled from the surface world. If you go ahead and fight these monsters in the typical RPG manner, you might begin to wonder why Undertale is so acclaimed, because if you choose this path, it’s perhaps no different from other RPGs in which you fight the same monsters and level up on an endless cycle.

However, it is perfectly possible for you to complete the game peacefully without killing a single enemy. Each different type of enemy you encounter can be reasoned or dealt with in a certain way if you take the time to understand them as individuals. Some monsters are lonely individuals who respond to flattery, whilst others have just fallen in with the wrong crowd and will act nicer once their rougher companion has been dealt with. Not only is this game mechanic an interesting twist on typical RPG adventures but it also provides hugely engaging gameplay, as every enemy you encounter becomes a mini-puzzle for you to solve.

it is perfectly possible for you to complete the game peacefully without killing a single enemy. Each different type of enemy you encounter can be reasoned or dealt with in a certain way if you take the time to understand them as individuals.

The game’s creator Toby Fox stated it was “important to make every monster feel like an individual. If you think about it basically all monsters in RPGs like Final Fantasy are the same, save for the graphics. They attack you, you heal, you attack them, they die. There’s no meaning to that”. Fox’s aim of making every monster an individual gives the game an underlying message that has resonated with a lot of people: we should take the time to understand and engage those that oppose us and not mindlessly destroy them- a message rarely seen within the ‘kill everything in sight’ mentality of video games.

Along with its charming characters; witty humour and inventive bullet hell-esque battle system, it’s no surprise that Undertale and its ground-breaking gameplay has been so widely praised. Whilst it probably doesn’t deserve the title of Best Game Ever, it certainly is a revolutionary title and will no doubt be an important milestone in the history of video games.

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