You know that feeling when you find a not-so-new movie or an old book standing at the highest shelf at your granny’s personal library, and it turns to be PURE GOLD? All you can do, aside from admiring the masterpiece of human mind you’ve just read or watched, is ask yourself, “How come I have never heard of it before? Where do I even live, in a sealed bunker?” Well, that’s what just happened to me less than a week ago. Let me tell you a little story because I’m still so inspired by the awesome narrative of the game I want to turn my whole life into a story.
“Oh, crap, a seven-hour ride,” I think rather gloomily boarding a train which is about to take me home from a city where I have spent my vacation. Mind you, the train is called express, but I personally did not find it to be very “express.” Nevertheless, here am I, sitting in a not-so-comfortable seat dully watching passing landscapes. It starts to rain, and my mood lowers even more. “Ok,” I say to myself, “Probably I should kill some time playing a game or something.” Items on my Steam list don’t seem so appealing, I’m gloomy, tired for some reason and don’t want to return home from vacation. And then I spot this little game I bought a long time ago during some sale, probably as a “+1” and forgot about it. And so the game begun!
Reviews and Recognition
Gladly I’ve looked through the review after I played the game, and the only questions I have now is, “What are you doing, trying desperately to find something to pick at?” Because it looks like they do. Okay, I know that I can take criticism of the things I like a little bit too personally, but nobody’s perfect, right? Anyway, I’m glad I tried the game first because such gloomy reviews could have averted me in the first place. I strongly advise you not to pay attention to them.
As for the recognition among gamers, it’s not just big, it’s HUGE. The game has earned a massive fan base, which now is actively creating videos, alternative endings, tons of fanart and fanfiction. For me, that’s a lot more important than a review by a gaming industry influencer or a magazine editor, however big and important they are. Now let’s finally talk about the game.
You start as a small child of an unidentified gender and age (for some reason I believe the main character is about 11 yo) after the said child falls into the Underworld. The universe of the game is divided into the Upper and Underworld separated by a Barrier, where humans and monsters live respectively. As you progress through the game, you learn that this isn’t the only one world order. Before people and monsters coexisted rather peacefully, and your main aim is to learn what separated them and how can you use the knowledge to get back home.
What is interesting, I never learned whether the main character has a home back at the Earth surface or not. But that’s probably I was too impatient to peak in every corner of the game during every run I made, and I bet you’ll have better luck at trying to find the character’s home or any info about it.
While you are exploring the world, you encounter a set of vivid and charming characters, each with a unique personality and aims in their, um, lives. You also meet a bunch of secondary monster characters, ranging mainly from cute to funny and back. Depending on how you treat the characters while communicating with them via a battle mode that automatically opens after an encounter, you proceed to one of the three endings – pacifist, neutral or genocide. The amazing thing about the game is that you don’t need to fight and kill – actually, you can finish the whole game without a single punch, but I’ll talk about that later. Sadly, I figured this out not from the very beginning of the gameplay, and it resulted in a rather regrettable outcome. And the game… it REMEMBERS.
I can’t decide what’s better here – the plot or the character set, so I’ll probably say both are equally good. I’ll try not to spoil the twists and turns of the plot while discussing characters, but hey, I have warned ya.
Main Character = Human Kid = You. It’s the person from whose perspective you navigate the universe. I love that you have lots of opportunities to express yourself, choose a path and explore the background characters and their lives.
Flowey the Flower. Oh my god, this one is creepy. Sooner or later you’ll find this out, and take it from me, it’s better to do so earlier, so you’ll be prepared to his wicked sayings and evil laughter. This one still gives me chills.
Toriel. She probably embodies everything that’s good and kind in the universe, and to be a little bit critical about the game, because it already seems to me that I am being too excited, she could use some character development. She’s just… good, you know?
Papyrus. This one is just hilarious. He’s a skeleton, he has a younger (?) brother Sans and he strives to be the coolest dude. The character is hilarious, cringy and relatable. I believe Papyrys represents all of us when we were teenagers – trying so hard to fit in and be the only unique dude or chic in the entire universe.
Sans. Hands down this is my favorite character in the game. He’s witty, but, unlike Papyrys, his wit appears to me to be genuine and more mature or something. Sans doesn’t try to be liked, he has his own perception of the world and appears to be relaxed about what’s going on. At first, he seems to be just lazy, but soon after you will discover the reason of this inner calm and composure since being the Arbiter of the Underworld is a demanding task. Whoops! Spoilers.
Undyne. I love the vigor, I love the name, since I can’t decide how it should be read, and I love the character development. And (SPOILER AHEAD) call me a crazy feminist or something, but I specifically love that the head of the Royal Guard is female. And man is she a badass. I mean, you’ll see.
Burgerpants. This is a character with a backstory that struck me as so important and relatable that I decided to mention it in the list of characters. To tell the truth, I despise the character and find him repelling, but I love the realism of the situation, the misunderstanding, and the insight game developers were able to provide through him. You’ll see!
If you prefer something nerve-wracking and brain-cells-burning, then the game will be a little bit boring for you. I guess its main emphasis is not on the complexity of the puzzles and encounters with bosses, but on the moral choice and portrayal of the universe as variable and diverse. And again, I adore it for the plot and characters, not for the astounding gaming mechanics.
Though it’s pretty neat in its simplicity. Undertale is a typical role-playing game with a top-down perspective. While navigating the world, you will use a mini bullet hell system in your encounters with various monsters.
TL; DR. If you are still doubting whether you should play it or not, you absolutely 100% should. Moreover, it’s only 7% or so on Stem. Hurry up, try it and share your opinion – I would love to have a couple of new people to annoy with constant talks about the awesomeness of the game.
By Alex Miller, founder of the csgoreview.com and, as you have probably guessed it, a computer gaming fan to the marrow of my bones.