Undertale is Not Your Ordinary RPG

Warning: This review contains slight spoilers.

Austin, Staff Writer

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On the surface, Undertale just looks like a basic, pixel art, role-playing game (RPG). It isn’t. Undertale is so much more. You gamers (or non-gamers) out there know the basic RPG, where you make your own decisions and the game is supposed to “change” based on them. Everyone knows that the storyline is still the same, most of the dialogue is the same, and that everything is basically the same thing. Not a lot of work is put into making the game truly based on your actions. Undertale, however, sets the bar high. Anyone wanting to top this, would need the skill, the brains, and the DETERMINATION (pun very much intended) to make a better game.

Basically, there are three different paths you can take to complete the game. The Pacifist (A.K.A. True Pacifist) route/playthrough, the Neutral route/playthrough, and the Genocide (A.K.A. No Mercy) route/playthrough. The differences in the game are insane. Former antagonists turn and become the protagonist’s friend. Minor characters become main characters. Even the storyline itself drastically changes. This is one of the only true RPGs out there. Even the art style manages to be awesome in its own little way. Instead of having circles and curves and all of those modern graphics, this game brings back the old square pixel art from retro gaming, or “when games were good”.

The beginning is simple. Basically, long ago, humans and monsters roamed the Earth. The humans defeated the monsters and sealed them underground with a magic spell. Now, you, the protagonist, in the year 201X are at Mount Ebbot, for reasons unknown to anyone but Toby “Radiation” Fox himself. No human has ever returned from the mountain. You trip on some vines and fall far, far, down. You enter the Underground. This is the main setting throughout the whole game.

(SPOILERS! SKIP THIS PARAGRAPH IF YOU WANT NONE!) The game starts with a cute, charming setting, where you wake up on a bed of golden flowers. When you walk through the door, you find yourself in front of a cute, charming little flower. Soon, you find out his true intentions and feelings. His view of the world can be described in his famous quote, “In this world, it’s kill or BE killed!” He says this shortly before he attempts to kill you. Remember, this is the FIRST ever character you meet. It’s a player’s first impression of the monsters of the Underground.

In this game, you can either do a True Pacifist playthrough, a Genocide playthrough, or a neutral playthrough. This is what gives the game its extreme replayability value. In each run, you get to learn about different characters, follow a different storyline, and make different friends. Each path has its own unique dialogue, music, storyline, characters, just everything! Undertale is like three games in a one-game package.

A True Pacifist playthrough is when you strive to spare everything you meet, and refuse to hurt a single soul (Pun not intended this time!). The moment you kill a single monster, you’re headed straight for a Neutral (or if you’re early-game, possibly a Genocide) playthrough. In this route, you learn the most about the characters, and even become friends with some of your greatest enemies. It’s the most popular way to play the game for someone’s first playthrough.

A Neutral playthrough is hard to come by, as it can go in many different ways. The moment you go from Pacifist to Neutral, the game changes, and depending on who you destroy, the game can change dramatically or not. This is the least popular route. You probably won’t learn anything about that unless you get the game yourself. However, this seems to be the route that you take whether you choose to go Pacifist or Neutral. Once you finish a Neutral playthrough, Flowey will tell you to do the whole thing over again without killing anything. Pacifist seems to be the section after you come back (or don’t, if you didn’t do Pacifist the first time) without destroying anything.

The Genocide route is one of the more interesting – and heart-breaking – playthroughs. If you do it after a True Pacifist playthrough – what most people do – you’re sure to be heartbroken, having to eliminate some of the characters you’ve become so attached to. In this run however, you learn a lot about Sans, a hilarious skeleton; Flowey, the flower from before; and Chara, who I must not spoil. The “True Lab” in the True Pacifist playthrough can shed some light on Flowey, though Sans stays under the radar. In this playthrough, Sans says some of his most famous lines such as “You dirty brother-killer” and “Do you wanna have a bad time?”  The Genocide playthrough really makes you feel like a terrible person. You kill off all the monsters in the area. The enemies become scared of you. Everyone becomes scared of you. Toby doesn’t want for you to have fun in this playthrough. You won’t feel satisfied. You ARE the antagonist. You’re the real monster.

In addition to it’s appeal as a true RPG, Undertale is filled with secrets and seemingly random comedy (And I assure you, lots of normal comedy as well!). I guarantee that you’ll be full of laughs on the Pacifist route. Almost every line of text is well-thought about, every character carefully examined. Even the random encounters you have with monsters can be thought provoking. Every one of those characters are perfectly represented too. Every little piece of the game is perfectly planned.  Even the completely random characters such as Temmie (who is one of the main people who helped Toby Fox, and who is designed by none other than Temmie Chang herself), and Onion-San have a purpose. They seem like they’re just there for the laughs, but some of them reveal parts of the storyline (Not these two specifically, but if I said who it was, wouldn’t that be spoiling? I thought I was avoiding that!)

Even the music has its own secrets. Some tracks have the same melody, and that reveals more of the storyline so you can make more sense of it. Sometimes, when you compare two of the songs from the soundtrack, you’ll basically be smacked straight in the face with understanding and you’ll be impressed by how much detail Toby “Radiation” Fox really puts into this game. Between these and the ones in the game itself, anyone who wants to find every single Easter egg is going to have a bad (but fun!) time. (Again? No one’s going to get these references unless they’ve played the game!) To those that insist on finding them all, good luck. You might even have to go into the game files (hint, hint).

Overall, this is my favorite game of all time, and I haven’t even bought it! It isn’t well known, but Undertale was the 2015 PC Game of the Year (GotY), and there is some disappointment among fans this year because Undertale can’t be people’s GotY for 2016. As a result, some people refer to Undertale as GOAT (Game of All Time).

Ultimately, anyone who appreciates extreme detail and many Easter eggs, will love this game.  Its main attribute is that it’s not the normal RPG game most people think it is.  Will you choose to be a hero and release the monsters from the Underground? Or will you be the true monster and destroy every last one? It’s your choice.

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