Undertale is a wacky and fantastical game that exploded onto the scene in 2015 and now enjoys a huge cult following. In a nutshell, it is a linear RPG (Role Playing Game) with retro graphics set in the underground world of humans and monsters. It is not as whimsical as Earthbound, nor is it as graphically complex as Lunar. Nevertheless, if you are looking for some old school entertainment on a rainy (or sunny) day, then take a trip to the weird and wonderful world of Undertale.An entire gaming world single-handedly created by developer Toby Fox, Undertale is 'the friendly RPG where no one has to die'. The much-loved indie game is known for its nostalgic feel and legendary soundtrack. The jewel in Undertale’s crown however is its quintessential humor and strangely lovable monster characters. A combat game where mercy is encouraged, and you choose to slay or spare your enemies. No spoiler alert: read on to get an overview of the design, mechanics and general vibe of the game. Simply download Undertale and prepare to battle (or befriend) your way to the surface.
Undertale: Getting under the skin of the indie classic
Undertale: side cracking monsters and fallen humans.
Take yourself back to the time of supercomputers, dinosaurs and Alice and Wonderland. Struggling? Throw in some classic arcade games and think Lord of the Rings. If none of that throws an easy image to the eye you’re not alone. Undertale is like no place on Earth. It is quite literally the otherworldly underbelly of human souls and trapped monsters. The intro of the Undertale game will blow you away. It tells you the story of the war of monsters versus humans culminating in the monsters being trapped underground. The beauty of going back to pure and simple graphics is that you are instantly absorbed. The loud typing of white font on a black screen is incredibly effective. You choose the name of your 'Fallen Human' (without your keyboard, but this is built into the code as you will have keyboard controls throughout the game). If you are initially bored by the gentle beginning (sorry to step on any Undertale fans’ toes) rest assured: the weird and wonderful will follow.
Your first interaction with the character 'Flowey' will rip the expectations from underneath you and plunge you into the Undertale world. This early dialogue basically sums up what is awesome about the game. Three-dimensional graphics are stripped away, the mechanics are basic, but Undertale holds its corner in bizarre, unpredictable and exceptionally funny characters. You grow to love them but will probably choose to kill them. Undertale is short and sweet, you can complete one of the three routes (Pacifist, Neutral or Genocide) in a day. Like a classic novel or killer movie though, the characters have a depth as deep as the world itself. Your strangely Freudian relationship with Toriel, the mum-like monster who clucks and fusses over you (later trapping you in an awesome script twist) gives the game a oddly familiar vibe. Simple fights are accompanied with entertaining comic dialogue and phrases like 'The Battlefield is filled with the smell of mustard seed'.
If quirky, retro and weird float your gaming boat, then you will love Undertale. What is there not to love?
At the risk of offending an entire fanbase of this cult classic, one potential flaw of the game is that the characters develop too fast. The game revolves around the quirky relationship with the enemy monsters. This is a killer approach but it happens too fast. Toriel is immediately a fussy mum monster instead of slowly becoming maternal. This could run the risk of throwing off new players. Another drawback I encountered on my PC was trouble with opening the menu for a fight using the C key.
Where can you run this program?
Undertale is available for PC (Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8 or 10), PS4, PSVITA and, Nintendo Switch. You’ll need a video card with 128 MB or 2 GB of RAM. It is resource light game and will only take up 200 MB of space and it should be a fast and easy download onto your PC. You can run it on your MacOS but there will be limited keyboard controls. You can also play it with a console such as an Xbox controller. There are limited versions of of the game available for Linux. Since Undertale is a 32-bit game, you may need to install 32-bit libraries for Linux.
Is there a better alternative?
If it is back to basic classics you are after, then the number one contender to Undertale is its mortal enemy: Earthbound. The games are similar in their stripped down linear RPG, but where Undertale scores on an unsurpassed soundtrack, Earthbound can offer you up to 30 hours to complete what you could do in Undertake in 8. If you are intrigued by a murky subterranean world of sarcastic monsters and fallen humans, then here are some other games that will be right up your alternative street. Want to buy a luxury holiday for your soul in the land of the dead? Try Manny Calavera, the travel agent at the Department of Death in the legendary game Grim Fandango. Or join two doctors journeying through the memories of a dying man in 'To the Moon'. For a truly complimentary alternative, try Deltarune by the same creator of Undertale. If you look closely, you’ll see the names are even anagrams of each other.
Undertale is a cult classic and indie gem. If it is old school cool that you are after, then head down under to the world of sarcastic flowers and fallen humans.
At the risk of voicing the unpopular opinion, Undertale is far from perfect. Even if you are looking for a stripped-down RPG with back to basic keyboard controls and more emphasis on dialogue, it fails to do either to a certain extent. Having said that, for depth of characters, and mind-bending approach to ending the game through mercy, then Undertale is truly unique. Conscientious killing, where mercy is rewarded, and fights are peppered with jokes.
Should you download it?
If the trials and tribulations of this world are too much, then it sounds like you need an Undertale experience. Give your inner Fallen Human a break and go hang out with Froggit the frog or do battle with Flowey. Do download it and see for yourself!