Even though I’m not an avid gamer, my brother always keeps me up-to-date with any indie games he finds interesting. The newest game he’s told me about is called Undertale. Unfortunately it’s still in development at the moment, but you can play the demo to get an idea of what the game will be like. There are numerous reasons I’m excited for this game, one of them being the lack of detail to the main protagonist. There’s a unique gameplay that allows you to fight or befriend characters, and the style of the game is very reminiscent of other games like Earthbound. Everything about this game is precious; I’ve even re-watched the trailer video to death at this point:
Spoilers ahead! Seriously though, check out the demo, it’s free!
One of the greatest things that I’ve ever gotten to experience is the webcomic Homestuck. A lot of people from the fandom or who have worked on the webcomic have continued to do other amazing projects. And one of the people who composed music for Homestuck, toby “radiation” fox, is the creator of Undertale. If you enjoyed the 8-bit or chip tune songs from Homestuck, you’ll enjoy the soundtrack in this game. The game also has some orchestrated pieces that really help set the tone of certain stages.
Undertale is about the protagonist (you choose their name), who falls into a pit that leads you underground to the world of monsters. A war between humans and monsters had forced them to live there, while humans live above. The goal is to return home, but how you get there is up to you.
Something that I didn’t really appreciate until I really thought about it for a while was the fact that the main character doesn’t have a selected gender. This is nice because it lets you play the game from whatever perspective you choose. The character is treated neutrally, from how others address you, to the bedroom you’re given later in the demo. Nothing is stereotypically girly or boyish, and it’s nice to see that the developer put care into these details.
The game doesn’t make you follow archetypes, like forcing you to “always be the hero” and fight, or to be a healer and stay passive; it’s all up to what you’d like to do. There aren’t really any advantages in being passive or aggressive, though they do influence the story, and I like that. The game gives your actions weight by giving them consequences, but you aren’t led through the game by having to level up by killing anything or by going on quests.
As you travel through the catacombs, you come across different characters. While the game follows a typical RPG format, you aren’t forced to actually fight anyone. Others can’t join your party in the demo, but you’re able to peacefully go through the game if you choose to. You can even flirt with your enemies if you really want to. It’s a nice change of pace from other games, and it’s fun to learn what kind of personalities other characters have.
The game plays like Earthbound in the sense that you explore an open area, and the fighting menu is very similar. The fighting style in Undertale is different from Earthbound, though; it’s not just one format where you can just choose a list of attacks. Enemies attacks appear in a bullet hell style, and you dodge these attacks with your Soul, or your heart icon. Your attacks are timed, as you follow your cursor to stop at a certain point on a bar to gain the maximum power to an attack (as seen in the trailer). Fighting this way adds a bit more of an interactive feel than some other games, and it makes it less monotone and repetitive.
I’m really excited to see this game has been greenlit on Steam, and I plan to be one of the first people to purchase this game whenever it’s available. Also, if you’ve played through the game, I’d advise playing through one more time. I think the ending will surprise you!