Undertale (Switch) Review
Three years after its original release, Undertale is still a special experience that’s so hard to describe without spoiling all the magic that makes it so unique and interesting. I fell in love with the PC version when it originally came out (even going as far as replaying it about 5 times in the span of a month!), so to say that the Switch release is something I was looking forward to would be a huge understatement. However, there was a little part of me that was worried that maybe some of the charm would be lost after all this time. That maybe, the magic I mentioned earlier wouldn’t be there anymore, and I would be severely disappointed upon replaying it. I’m extremely pleased to say that isn’t the case at all.
Undertale is set in a world where a thousand years ago, humans and monsters used to live in harmony. That was until a war broke out, and the humans wound up driving and sealing the monsters deep underground. You play as a child who happens to fall down into the realm of monsters, exploring and discovering the world that they reside in on your journey to find a way back to the surface. Along the way, you learn more about the monsters when it comes to their history, culture, daily lives, and many of their feelings. This doesn’t only apply to the main cast of characters you encounter, but also many regular NPCs such as shopkeepers, who are all bursting to the brim with personality.
While the premise might seem simple, the story is layered deeper than you could possibly imagine. It’s clear how much the developer, Toby Fox, loved working on this game. There is so much vivid detail in the world, the lore, the characters, the writing, and even the music (which he composed himself!) that it’s pretty unbelievable that this game was largely crafted by just him. And boy, Undertale really knows how to pull you back and forth through all sorts of emotions. You’ll find yourself laughing, feeling tense, and getting extremely emotional all within a way shorter time span than you’d probably expect.
Many of your interactions with the characters can be affected by the way you play the game as well. The key gameplay feature that Undertale highlights are the options to defeat monsters to gain experience points, or to defuse the situation and spare their lives. It works similarly to systems that games such as Persona 5 and the Shin Megami Tensei series have utilised, where it’s almost a puzzle in itself trying to figure out the opposing monster’s personality, and exactly how you could calm them down. This isn’t necessary, however, and if you truly wanted to, you could ignore that aspect of the game entirely. No matter what you decide to do, the game will respond to your actions, and you could have a completely different experience to somebody else’s. Yeah, I still can’t believe this game was by a single person.
Talking to your enemies isn’t the only thing that makes fights so interesting, either. As monsters attack you, it’s not as simple as just a number representing how much health you’ve lost popping up on the screen, but instead, you’re required to dodge a series of attacks that are thrown your way. This process almost makes it feel like you’re playing some kind of shoot ‘em up game instead, which is something I don’t think I’ve ever quite been able to say for any other RPG. You’re not just dodging bullets, though! Many of the attacks are incredibly creative, ranging from frog enemies leaping from wall to wall of the attack area, to having to avoid the tears of an enemy who’s crying at you from above. These attacks only get more and more wildly interesting and challenging as you proceed through the underground, but it never manages to feel ridiculously unfair. Every attack pattern are ones you can easily learn to avoid, as long as you manage to stay observant and cautious.
For anyone who has played Undertale before and is wondering if there’s any new content included in the Switch version – there is! It’s not much, but what it is is pretty hilarious. It’s also something that you could really feel was specifically designed for the Switch itself. That’s all I can really say without spoiling it entirely, but if you’re going to pick up the game again, it’s absolutely worth going out of your way to try to look for what it is! While it’s not difficult to find, it’s absolutely possible to completely miss it.
What else can I say? Undertale is spectacular, even three years later. It’s a game that deserves every bit of praise that it receives, and a game that the people who love it are going to remember for a long, long time. I can’t express how happy I am to have had the opportunity to experience it again on the Switch.