Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Undertale



Happy Price: 9.99
Rating: 8.5

Gameplay

Undertale is a narrative driven RPG with a unique battle system that allows the player to fight or negotiate, most of the time. There are several different outcomes to battles and a short campaign that encourages replay ability. It combines classic elements of top down 8 bit games and modern gameplay storytelling which creates an experience of it's own.

Battle System

I was very excited to play this game and not kill any enemies. The first couple of battles consisted of me talking and enjoying the writing, often laughing out loud. I noticed however I was not getting XP or gold and not leveling up, surely I was doing something wrong. I then started to fight and kill my enemies, which allowed me to level up and get large amounts of gold. This is surely the path to go, and that's what I ended up doing, because it felt right. I did not really understand why the system was created like this. I wanted to experience the dialogue, and not kill anything, at the same time be rewarded for it to upgrade my character. To me, this is the most addicting part of RPG's. 


The player can select what they want to do via JRPG style battle screen. When the enemy responds with an attack, a dodging or other small mini game type is enacted. Quick reflexes are needed to get through each battle. The best part is, each character has a different attack which invokes a different mini game for each battle. The game in this sense does not feel lazy and very "craft brewed". There is a lot of thought and personality brought into this, and Toby Fox put a great deal of effort to make all this feel like it was thought out in a detailed way. I just wish exploring all the writing was rewarded with a conventional progression system so I felt like I was doing the right thing.



Story

The story is the main reason to play this game, which is rare for a video game. The best part is there aren't any cut scenes, the story is told through battles and level design. The art style is very simple and there isn't any voice acting, but the subtle facial expressions in the dialogue window convey the emotions just right. I was able to tell when a character was being devious, the designer knew I could tell, and when I made a decision based off of all that, I WAS CONFRONTED ABOUT IT, it was the best. I just thought to myself, that was done so well, I felt smart about doing one thing, but the designer in a way outsmarted me. I'm used to those things not really mattering, but in this case it did. I don't want to spoil anything, but things like this occur in the game.


Sound

The voices are distinguished by different tones and beeps that are mixed together. A fat character will have a set of machine tones that are low, lazy, and have bass. As dialogue runs across the screen, these tones will play and it sounds like the character is talking, which adds humor to the whole thing. I thought it was a great way to convey dialogue with limited resources. The soundtrack of the game is great. There are unique scores for each area of the game and even battles. All of which are addicting and make the experience pleasant. It's reminiscent of LISA, where I just loved the soundtrack, and it created a great mood for each area of the game. 

Art

For the most part, the quality of the art can be ignored. At times it appears lazy, but it doesn't really matter with the amount of depth that went into the writing and soundtrack. Nothing is really going to impress you, and honestly, I didn't really want anything to. I liked how I was focusing on the soundtrack and narrative. The downside is I never really looked around much, I was always trying to find the next story point or battle. I had no reason to stay in one area and examine my environment, because it wasn't really that appealing and I wanted another section of my brain to be activated as quickly as possible. Hopefully if there is a sequel, the same art style can be used, but more details and backdrops will be used. I think it will create a more pleasant environment for players to navigate and explore.



Summary

This is a must play for any gamer that is looking for something fresh and new. The story is short, around 6-8 hours so it doesn't take a huge time investment. The writing alone is worth your time and money, and add in the gameplay elements and you have a great game. The is the underlying counter intuitiveness of an RPG that exists which bothered me, but I think for most people it didn't bother them. Many people love this game, I certainly liked it.

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