Reading This Article, It Fills You With Determination
Celebrating 6 years of Undertale with 6 reasons why it is one of the best games out there. Period.
2015 was an insane year for games with hits such as The Witcher 3 and Bloodborne. Has it been that long already? I can hardly believe it’s been 6 years now since I played Fallout 4 for the very first time. The game that truly won over my heart that year with me still reeling over it in 2021 however, is Undertale. Toby Fox blessed us with this gem September 15th of 2015. Since I am going to be talking about this game in all of its glory goodness, I should warn you there will be definite spoilers.
Here are the 6 six reasons why Undertale is one of the best games of all time.
This game has it all, starting off with a hilarious sense of humor. Every major character name is a play on words. The first noticeable one, being Toriel whom you meet after being betrayed by Flowey in the ruins. She has you solve simple puzzles and simulate a pretend battle with a dummy. The dialogue box during that encounter even says “it doesn’t seem much for conversation,” hilariously demonstrating situational irony. Also what’s funny is you’re learning the way the Ruins works, making Toriel’s name a play on the word “tutorial.”
Perhaps one of the best instances of humor throughout this game is when you visit Undyne’s house. Papyrus is there because he suggested all three of you should hang out. Trying to exit, he says “I just remembered I have to go to the bathroom” before proceeding to throw himself out of the front window, audibly smashing it.
Also good gravy the amount of puns that are in this game are enough to make someone’s eyeballs roll out and down the street to the nearest bus stop. I’m sure you can think of several different ways the words skeleton and bones can be used humorously.
There are so many secrets in this game that I am still discovering some of them in 2021. Perhaps the biggest one I discovered is hidden within the game’s code. Looking deep you will see something called a “fun value”, a number that is generated randomly upon reset. Certain numbers generate rare characters and events, from learning about W.D. Gaster to encountering very odd phone calls.
Here’s another trivia fact for you. You know that mysterious locked door in that Snowdin cave? The only way to unlock it is to dodge all of the credits after the end of the game.
How about Sans’s room, which is frustratingly locked? To unlock it, you have to die several times right in the corridor with him before the throne room. Eventually Sans gives you the key and you can enter his room. You’ll see a tornado with various objects in it, but most interestingly plans for what is speculated to be a time machine.
Speaking of locked doors, there’s a house right next to Napstablook’s that is pink. To get the key, you have to buy it from Catty and Bratty who are in the alleyway behind the hotel. After unlocking the house, you discover it belongs to Mettaton.
On a different note of things, let’s talk about the start menu when you name the fallen human. If you choose any of the character names, you will get a custom response. For example, typing in "Sans" will get you a response of "nope" while entering in Flowey will say "I already CHOSE that name."
However if you're up for a challenge, entering the name Frisk will activate the game's hard mode. You'll encounter slight dialogue changes as well as characters that you don't normally see until reaching the Core. Unfortunately this mode of play ends after the Ruins, where the annoying dog announces the end of the game, much to Toriel's displeasure.
A lot of games have minor characters sprinkled throughout like salt on a snow-covered driveway, but Undertale doesn’t just contain filler characters, it adds details to even the smallest of roles to make the world feel very fleshed out. You start noticing this when you reach Snowdin. Every single character you encounter has clickable dialogue that adds value to the environment. Even the smallest of roles matter and help make the monster world feel that much more real.
There are two characters who struck a special chord with me when it came to their overall depth and arc: Sans and Mettaton. Sans when you meet him for the first time comes across as this goofy, lazy pile of bones that likes bad jokes. While getting to know him, you start to pick up on there being more to him than meets the eye(socket, haha). It seems like he kinda knows what's going on. And of course if you've done the genocide run, you know how powerful he is.
Mettaton is the robot-turned-tv host created by Dr. Alphys, who pops up with over-the-top plots to take you down. When you reach your final battle with him, he turns into his true form, Mettaton EX. Basically he's a drag-queen kind of robot. But that moment he turns into EX from his initial form just does it for me.
As proven throughout history, a soundtrack can make or break a good film, tv show, or game. (If it weren’t for the 50 Shades of Grey soundtrack, I probably wouldn’t have bought the movie on DVD.) Undertale’s crude art style certainly carries in some of its music, but there are different styles displayed throughout. The tune playing when you encounter Napstablook sounds like 1920s speakeasy music which is not something you hear too often in a video game.
The most famed song on the soundtrack is Megalovania, which does have 8-bit in it, but quickly expands into a head-banging hard rock song, complete with drums. It’s enough of a hit to have even been made into a marching band arrangement!
My second favorite track is Spider Dance, the battle music when you encounter Muffet. If you were smart enough to buy spider bakesale goods in the Ruins, this area is a quick in-and-out for you. But if you do have to battle Muffet, hopefully you're stocked up on items as this battle does kind of suck. Either way, this song kicks ass because it is action-packed (and really it's just well-written). Right on, Toby!
Another huge selling point is Undertale’s storyline. When you open the game, it begins with a short backstory of how there was once a war between monsters and humans. After the humans won, the monsters were sealed underground with a magical spell.
Next you’re brought to the start menu, where you can alter game settings and name the fallen human. You’d think you're naming the character you play as. Throughout your journey in the underground you come to realize you are naming the human that fell before you, while the character you play as is named Frisk. Your goal is to return to the human world. You encounter different monsters and creatures along the way, first encountering Flowey. Once he tries to smoke your ass, you are saved by Toriel who gets you acclimated to how the game works.
After leaving the Ruins, you meet Sans the skeleton who then gets you to meet his brother Papyrus. You reach Snowdin, meeting all of its minor characters (each one adding depth to the world). There are bad jokes and puzzles along the way while listening to the silly banter between the skele-bros.
The area after that is Waterfall which contains yet more puzzles but also pretty (and often times relaxing) music that’s filled with piano, bells, and what sounds like a vibraphone. You encounter another major character, Undyne, who is a punk-rock badass. Her battle is quite interesting as you guard your “soul” from her arrows by hitting the proper directional key on your controller. A different concept for sure, but it works and is custom to her since she’s a member of the Royal Guard.
Hotland is where you’re headed right after fighting Undyne. Here you meet Alphys and Mettaton. Oh, Mettaton. The lovable robot. Throughout the rest of the game you will find yourself in situations where Mettaton tries to harm you, but are narrowly saved by Dr. Alphys. This area has more puzzles and intense music which makes sense because you are about to reach a pivotal point in the game: the castle.
After one final showdown with Mettaton, you head all the way up to the castle. You’re faced with a terrible choice: kill Asgore and save yourself or let Asgore kill you and take your soul. This is the hardest battle on the pacifist route and the only one where you truly have to fight as Asgore literally destroys your mercy button before your eyes. After a lengthy battle, you’re finally able to spare him. Which if you’ve gotten this far I don’t know why you’d want to kill him anyways.
Everything seems it’s okay until you watch Asgore be turned to dust by Flowey, who took the accumulated human souls. This is where the game gets really cool, because it will completely close on you (Toby Fox the creator designed it to crash like that.) You have to click on the game again. You see the original opening, and then it errors out and shows you a single line saying “Flowey Level 9999 Time 9999:99 My World”. This definitely freaked me out a bit the first time I saw it.
You see Frisk and walk forward. There appears to be a normal save option in front of you, except this one gets destroyed before a giant Flowey shows up. After his spiel, you witness one of the most unsettling parts of the game. Why is it unsettling? Because it’s the only art that isn’t pixelated. It uses real imagery like vines, fingers attached to flowers, as well as Venus fly traps. I can’t make this shit up, and honestly that image gave me nightmares for a few days after seeing it.
You and the souls manage to defeat Flowey. Along the pacifist route you spare him and listen to a phone call between all your buddies that you’ve seemed to have left behind. When the phone gets hung up, Flowey reappears and gives you a chance to go back and be a better friend to Alphys.
This is the final section of the game. Once reaching Alphys’s lab, you learn of the experiments she conducted where all the creatures accidentally combined to form the hideous-looking amalgamates. After learning this truth, you eventually end up back at the castle like you did before. Only this time, all of your friends gather there to save you. Too bad Flowey had to break that up. After absorbing everyone’s souls, you discover Flowey’s true identity is Asriel, the son of Asgore and Toriel. He tries to destroy you and the world, but your soul won’t give up.
After saving him, yourself, and your friends, finally the barrier keeping everyone trapped underground is shattered. You join them on the surface and at last, your journey is finally over.
Undertale is classified as an RPG where you impose whoever you want to on the character you play. However it strays away from traditional RPG mechanics. You don’t have a team you’re tasked with keeping alive, and there are only three different endings. We have the true pacifist ending where you spare everything, the neutral ending where you kill some things, or genocide where you kill all in your way.
The pacifist route I highly recommend for your first playthrough as you get most of the storyline. It can be difficult at times to spare characters as it does require figuring out how to earn their mercy, but at the same time it allows you to become attached to the characters by learning all of their backstories.
Now when you play the genocide run after a pacifist one, you’re probably going to feel like an absolute monster. There were a couple deaths that had me on the verge of tears, the biggest tearjerker in my opinion being when you kill Papyrus. He is the most loveable, happy (but not the brightest) skeleton there is. During your battle he immediately goes to spare you so by the time you’ve completed your fight sequence, every shred of moral decency has left your body.
Man, could that above quote ring true for a million different things right now, especially while in the midst of a pandemic. This game has really held a special place in my heart since I first watched Jacksepticeye's playthrough during the fall of 2015. I had just started college, and Jack also did voices for the characters on this series which excited me. (There is only one single line of spoken dialogue in this whole game, and it's tucked away in the genocide route.) This game has paved the way for some friendships of mine as a talking point, as well as inspired some of my creative ideas. I've listened to the soundtrack many times and it has always brought a smile to my face.
Now go and save the world, human! Nyeh heh heh!