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 "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.