Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Undertale

Undertale-Asriel-Dreemur-Boss-Fight-Pacifist-Run

Developer: Toby Fox
Release Date: September 15, 2015
Genres: Indie, RPG, Meta

One Sentence Review:
If any game could turn a hardened killer into a sniveling crybaby it would be this game.

Before I begin I just want to say I love this game. There's so much to like and not much to hate, it's definitely a gem of the year 2015 and probably my game of the year overall. I will pick apart bits and pieces of it but do not let that discourage you in the slightest!


Gameplay

This game has an assortment of different gameplay styles woven into it. On one hand it can be a basic jrpg-style game with bullet hell aspects merged in. In another way it can still use the bullet hell aspects but center around puzzles instead of combat. In a third way the game can start throwing meta genre attacks at you, making it so you have to dodge around while choosing menu items and thinking outside the box on how to kill certain targets. Usually a game like this would feel insane but Toby managed to put it together well.

If I had to complain about something in the gameplay it's that certain fights can be a little bit ridiculous. The game could do with a few different difficulty modes so that players who just want the story don't have to overcome insane tests of reflexes and quick thinking to see the next part. For some people those feats are physically impossible.

Storyline

The story in this game follows the aftermath of a human-monster war where the monsters were all banished to the underground and sealed beneath by a barrier. It follows a human child whom you can name as they end up falling down through the barrier and into a world of monsters.

The story that follows this relatively simple starting point takes you on a journey where you learn all about how the fear of humans drove the two races to this point. You also get some mentions about other children who fell down into the underground. But the interesting thing is that the story unfolds gradually and if you find every piece of information it starts taking both very sad and very dark tones.

Dialogue

The dialogue in this game is some of the best I've seen since I last played a Bioware game. The characters are genuinely likable both with and because of their various quirks. You even start feeling some sympathy towards the main antagonist(s) as you progress through the game and learn about their past from other characters.

One qualm I do have with the dialogue is that some of it feels unfinished or rushed. I feel like some of the NPCs in the game were fleshed out extremely well while others were given one line and just that. I know it seems like a minor qualm for this type of game but some NPCs are fleshed out extremely well. The contrast is what hurts the most here.

Combat

The combat in this game is a blend of RPG mechanics, bullet hell, platforming, and reflex games. I'm not even kidding. In combat you're represented by a small 2D heart and depending on the color you're forced into by the enemy you'll end up dodging bullets, jumping on platforms while dodging bullets, blocking attacks with reflexes and a shield, or skipping around on strict paths while still dodging bullets. Remember how I said I'd expect a game like this to feel insane? Understand where I'm coming from yet?

Overall the combat isn't anything new if you ignore its variety. The developers took tried and tested mechanics from other games and spliced them together into Undertale. The reason I bring up combat at all is because this is some of the best mechanic mixing I've seen in my life. The mechanics don't feel slapped together in a moment's notice. It's obvious that great care was taken to merge them together as well as possible with as minimal an impact as possible.

There are Triple A titles today that could learn from this level of care and detail.

Sound Design

And the award for music master 2015 goes to Toby Fox! No, seriously. This is possibly one of the biggest parts of Undertale and probably the reason it's hit so many top 10 lists for the year 2015.

The music in Undertale is extremely precise. Each note in each song is carefully chosen to make you feel a certain way. If the developer wants you to feel sad, you will feel sad. If the developer wants you to feel at home and comfortable, you will feel so. If the developer wants you to feel guilty and self-loathing, god damn you Toby.

Final Note

So where do I price this game? Well let me first tell you this. To get all of the endings in this game and see all there is to see you'll probably need at least 48 hours minimum. To be fair, a lot of that'll probably be spent on a single boss fight which is legendarily hard, but worth it in the end. So for that minimum playtime my gamer price tag on this is $20 USD. It is easily worth double the asking price of the game. I'm going to go pour caustic acid on my hand for typing that as a person going into the accounting field.

Click Here to Buy Undertale on Steam