Undertale is a game that has gotten tons of hype (even getting recognition from Nintendo in the form of being included in Smash Bros. as a Mii costume!), so I was interested in checking it out. I'm not a fan of really long, drawn-out RPGs, but this game is pretty compact and doesn't wear out its welcome (my very chill playthrough took around ten hours, I think), although somehow it still ends up feeling a little short. Part of that may be that it's very linear and you don't revisit any previous locations at all, and also the areas are all very basic with not much in the way of puzzles or challenges. You also don't level up in the same type of a way as a traditional RPG, so it's a little hard to gauge your progress.

The game's offbeat take on the RPG genre is apparently heavily indebted to an "anti-RPG" game released in 1997 called Moon, which was made by a Japanese indie developer (before indie development was even really a thing). Like Moon, Undertale has you questioning the fact you're battling your way through a peaceful kingdom of so-called monsters. The battle system in Undertale is unique in that although you select commands in a traditional RPG fashion, you respond to enemies' attacks by dodging them in a bullet hell-like setup. When confronted by two enemies of different types you have to deal with both enemies' attack patterns simultaneously. It sounds complicated, but it actually works really well, and is one of the highlights of the game. I think a lot of people have been drawn to the music, retro graphics, quirky characters, and quirky writing, and I enjoyed all of those elements, although the writing was occasionally a little too self-referential and cutesy for my taste. The other main highlight for me, however, is the ending, which comes a bit from left field and is very memorable.

The game also has some replayability in the form of alternate endings, some of which would really require you to use a FAQ to get through, but I don't have any interest in exploring those. The developer, Toby Fox, has put out the first part of the follow-up to the game, called DELTARUNE, as a free demo. I tried it out, but it seemed just like more of the same (although I like that he's remixed a lot of the same characters), so I'm not particularly anticipating its release. Maybe by the time it rolls around I'll be more interested in it, but for now this was an enjoyable game that for me didn't quite live up to its hype.


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