Back in September, Undertale – a small roleplaying game put out largely by one man and backed by a relatively modest Kickstarter – was released to almost instant acclaim. It’s one of the best games of 2015, and I would argue one of the most important games to be released in years.
In a genre – and, in fact, medium – that takes violence for granted, Undertale offers the player the opportunity to play an entirely pacifist game. What’s more, choosing not to fight in Undertale never makes you feel like you’re missing out. Rather than simply not fighting, the player can seek non-violent ways to defeat or appease their enemy during combat. As a result, non-violence becomes not just as viable as violence, but as entertaining.
However, Undertale goes beyond just the gimmick of allowing the player to be a pacifist. It utilizes an interesting combat system unlike anything I’ve personally seen in a game – while traveling utilizes a traditional JRPG top-down style (think Pokemon), combat is determined through a turn-based system in which the player needs to frantically dodge their opponent’s attacks.
Undertale’s true strength, however, is not in its gameplay, as well-made as that is. Undertale is great because it is the most emotionally invested I have been in a game in years. It’s full of interesting, memorable characters who together with the story and atmosphere create an experience that is at times hilarious and melancholy.
Undertale brims with character – obviously in the case of its characters, but also in its music (I even like the music that plays when you die, despite being sick of it happening), environments, gameplay, and story.
I won’t tell you any thing more about it, because it really is an experience worth having unspoiled.
Undertale proves that a game doesn’t need to be high resolution to be beautiful, that gameplay doesn’t need to be expensive to be innovative, and that a story doesn’t need to be complicated to be interesting.