Welcome to our CHEATfactor Game Review of Undertale. We review the game and then factor in how the available cheats affect the overall game experience. For better or worse, our reviews will help you decide whether or not to use cheats when playing the game.
Undertale was not supposed to be this good. It looks just like all of the other retro styled RPGs that have flooded steam in the last few years and it's design, made entirely in a game maker app is incredibly simple. Somehow though, in my six hours or so with the game I found myself enthralled with the world it created. Maybe it was the fantastic writing, maybe it was the unique battle system; it could have been a number of things but Undertale snuck up on me, and it's likely to do the same for anyone who plays it. It's a game that successfully takes time honored mechanics from games like Earthbound and spins them to something completely different and for that it deserves to not only be played, but to be considered in the conversation for one of the best games of the year.
Undertale's setup is a simple one really. Apparently a long time ago monsters and humans lived in perfect harmony but something drove them apart. The game starts proper as you fall down a hole and get wicked away to the world of the monsters. These aren't your average monsters though; they're intelligent and carry about their lives in a matter that's pretty similar to the way we as humans do. Of course, not all of them are as friendly as others and you as the player (you'll name your own character, mine was Randy Savage) must figure out how to deal with each encounter. Do you try to fight them or make peace? No matter which you choose, it's done in a new and novel way and will have an impact on how the game plays out.
Let's just say you take the normal traditional RPG route and decide to engage pretty much every monster you meet in combat. The game will call you out on this and make you think twice about your decisions, but you'll still want to to experience the combat because it's so different than most everything you've played before. When you enter into combat with someone, a mini game appears that usually has you navigating a little heart that's symbolic of your soul through a series of objects and projectiles. It seems simple but the way that the game switches up patterns and ideas is astounding. The mini game will shift entirely, causing you to have to rethink your strategy on the fly and some offer completely new concepts. One of the enemies got angrier every single time he would get close to me so the idea became clear - get as close as possible without letting him hit me.
But what if the monsters are just misunderstood? What if they don't want to fight you? Wouldn't that make you, with your constant attacks and violent nature the bad guy? Undertale tackles this by letting you talk...yes talk your way out of nearly every encounter. Be warned though, talking it out with a monster isn't a passive exercise, it's as involved as fighting them would be. You have to choose what to say and when to say it. Choose the wrong option and you're likely to anger the monster and they'll attack you but it's surprisingly deep and rewarding to pull it off successfully. It's not a tactic that every game should employ, I don't think having Master Chief talk it over with the covenant is going to sell many copies but it works incredibly here in Undertale.
That may also be because of the game's remarkably well done writing. It's filled with the type of in-humor that's so popular right now but it's not overdone and it calls back to classics like Earthbound. Be warned though, the game can switch to it's dramatic side quick than you'll likely realize and there's a good chance you'll care about what happens to city of monsters and it's citizens. The game does a great job at creating memorable characters like the motherly Toriel and the comic skeleton duo of Papyrus and Sans that you'll remember and want to see more from after the game finishes. It's great though because like all of the great RPGs I grew up with, there are different endings based on what you do and how you do it. I played through the game the first time without looking at any sort of spoilers, but I went through again and read along with fan theories on the internet. Spoiler alert - you're likely to not understand the game quite as much as you think you do in your first play through.
That's part of the genius of Undertale really though, it feels like an epic quest but the game can be finished in about six hours. Sure there's extra depth if you're looking for it, but in an era when we're running kids here and there or responsible for this and that, the fact that I can complete an entire RPG and feel a sense of completion in six hours is a welcome one. What's even more interesting is that the game does this without sparing any of the emotion and story beats it otherwise would have..it just cuts out a lot of the fluff that other franchises seem be in love with these days.
Maybe it's wrong to say that Undertale wasn't supposed to be this good, maybe I just wasn't ready for it to be this good. Almost from out of nowhere the game comes out and surprises nearly everyone with it's depth, humor and writing. It may not look like much but perhaps that's part of the appeal. If you're looking for something different, Undertale is surely worth your time. It's a game that's sure to be considered by many as a game of the year contender and an instant classic.
Joe started off writing about video games for small fan sites when he realized he should probably do something with his communications degree and didn't want to get into the grind of daily reporting. Joining the team in late 2008, Joe is the featured game reviewer for Cheat Happens, producing up to 10 CHEATfactor Game Reviews per month.
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