Skip to main content

Under The Tale, But Above All Expectations

Quite some time since the last update.  Well, truth be told, my view count is so low that I've been rather discouraged from bothering.  Not that I ought to be doing this for popularity, so much as it seems as though I must have been doing it wrong.  Foremost, perhaps, that there's no specific audience being written to here, it's just been me rambling about how I wasted my free time.
Meet Muffet, just one of the monsters trying to kill you in Undertale.
Well, I just finished Undertale, a worthier-than-usual mention.  On the surface, it resembles a 8-bit RPG from the NES era, which makes sense considering its creator, Toby Fox, has had extensive experience in both creating 8-bit music and doing this style of graphic art, for example in a ROM hack of the cult classic SNES title, Earthbound.  Indeed, I would call Undertale a game of the same vein, but this would mean little to you if you were unfamiliar with the haunting kitschy sentiments of Earthbound.  So let me try explaining what's so special about Undertale again... 

Well, imagine a scenario in which the protagonist is a little human girl who finds herself in a mystical land inhabited by monsters who appear scary and malevolent but may actually be friendly if approached the right way.  You won't have to try too hard to imagine that, as you've probably seen The Wizard Of Oz or Labyrinth before.  Apparently, that's a magical scenario that really tickles the human psyche in the right way, because it's a reoccurring theme that works well.

However, because this is the 21st century, everything has a thin bit of tongue-and-cheekiness applied to it.  The dialogue is rich with playful japes and puns, and the occasional jab at pop culture, even as the plot takes occasional forays into meaningful tear-jerking moments.  This part of what Undertale inherited from Earthbound: the whole game exists to setup memorable scenes, the sum of which are well worth the price of admission.
The scripted battle sequence against Muffet, a spoiler in a game featuring dozens.

The other part is that the whole game plays out like a 8-bit roleplaying game.  You know the drill: encounter monsters, pop over to a battle screen, choose from the options "attack," "act," "item," and "mercy."  

The "mercy" menu is the twist, though it had an option to flee, far more important is the option to spare a monster that no longer wishes to fight.  Usually you manuever it into being peaceful via various actions on the "act" menu, but this varies per foe.   Sparing the foe gets you no EXP or LVs, you'll have to kill for that, but it does get you gold.   

Another core deviation from the combat system is that it is usually executed as an action game where you need to maneuver a heart (representing you) around a box, avoiding threats from whatever monster you are fighting.  

However, while the fights are all excellently done, they're actually somewhat scripted, and you'll encounter a lot less fights than most 8-bit RPGs.  In fact, once you've pacified a few monsters in an area, that's it: you're out of monsters there.  So, for the majority of the play, you'll be wandering the land, solving puzzles, visiting shops, meeting interesting monsters, and so on.

The more I talk about it, the more I risk spoiling it.  So let me just say that Undertale is a very well done labor of love.  If all games were done in the same spirit of Undertale ("spirit" implying the playful intent of the creator, and not a specific game mechanic) then the gaming world would a far better place.  I suppose it's not too much of a spoiler to say that the game lasts about 5-7 hours a playthrough, and rewards you for multiple playthroughs with additional flavor text, unique content depending on what you've been doing, and several distinct endings.


Popular posts from this blog

Empyrion Vrs Space Engineers: A Different Kind Of Space Race

In my quest for more compelling virtual worlds, I have been watching Empyrion: Galactic Survival a lot this bizarro weekend, mostly via the Angry Joe Show twitch stream.  What I have concluded from my observations is Empyrion is following in Space Engineers' shadow, but it is nevertheless threatening the elder game due to a greater feature set (the modding scene notwithstanding).

Empyrion is made in Unity, whereas Space Engineers is built on a custom engine.  While this does put Empyrion at a disadvantage when it comes to conceptual flexibility, its developers nevertheless have a substantial advantage when it comes to adding features due to a savings of time spent that would have gone into developing their own engine.  Examples include:
Planets.  Empyrion already has planets and space to explore between them, whereas in Space Engineers planets are in the works but still awhile away (so you just have asteroid fields to scavenge).Enemies.  Space Engineers' survival mode boasts onl…

Resonant Induction Really Grinds My Gears... In A Good Way

From about 2pm yesterday until 8pm today, I've been dabbling with my latest custom mod mix for Minecraft 1.6.4, which is this time very much Universal Electricity focused.
Aside from the usual GUI enhancers and Somnia, the primary contenders in this mix were:
Calclavia Core - Of course: this is the base of the Universal Electricity system.Resonant Induction - This seems to be largely focused on increasingly more advanced methods of refining ores divided across 4 ages of technological progression.  It also includes some really cool things such as assembly lines.  I'll primarily be talking about just a few blocks out of this mod today.Atomic Science - A mod dedicated to generating more of those lovely universal electricity volts via the power of splitting the atom.  Build your own nuclear reactor!  Deal with nuclear meltdowns!  You maniac!ICBM - A mod dedicated to generating more destruction using those lovely universal electricity volts (and more than a little gunpowder), it cer…

Greasing The Grind: Adding Lasting Appeal To Virtual World Sandboxes

Game design, being about entertainment, is not as much science as art.  We're coming up with interesting things that the human mind likes to chew on that "taste" good to it.  Different people find different things, "Fun," and a game designer is tasked with coming up with fun, appealing things.  As pertains to virtual world sandboxes, I identified three of them.

Challenge Appeal.

Dwarf Fortress and Fortresscraft Evolved have the same end game appeal preservation mechanic: wealth equals threat.  The more money your Dwarf Fortress is worth, the bigger the baddies who will come for you, including a bunch of snobby useless nobles who do nothing but push dwarves around and eat.  The more energy you make in Fortresscraft Evolved, the more and bigger bugs come to shut down your base.  Rimworld does something a little different based off of which AI Storyteller you choose, but it generally adds time to your wealth accumulation when deciding what kind of threats to throw a…