Undertale - PS4 Review

Undertale is a fantastic RPG experience. I honestly had no idea what to expect going into it, as I missed playing this the first time around when it came out on PC. It was one of those games I always planned on picking up eventually, just to see if it could live up to the ridiculous hype it had received. So imagine my surprise when it succeeded in meeting, and maybe even exceeding my expectations.

I realize I'm pretty late to this particular party. Hell, my two girls have both played and been raving about this title for ages now, but in fairness my video game tastes rarely align with theirs. We have a little overlap in some areas, but by and large the games that tickle their fancy either fail to grab my interest or lose it frightfully quickly.

Enter Undertale, one of the best scored and reviewed games in a very long time. The premise is simple enough stuff, as your human character falls into a cavern where a variety of monsters roam. Your objective? Try and get back home. If that all sounds a bit on the trope-y side of things, well - in a way that is Undertale in a nutshell. Not that it actually is a series of been-there-done-that moments, but it feels like it could be for a time, only to surprise you time and again. It is tough to talk about the narrative, because if there is one concern or complaint, it is that this fantastic ride is over a bit too quickly. I am used to my RPGs lasting dozens of hours, but instead Undertale rings in about a half dozen or so, and when it was over - well, I wanted more. Not necessarily something more, or felt that the game itself was lacking, I just wanted more of the content I had been enjoying up until the end.

The story itself is quirky and enjoyable, but what really allows it to shine is its unique and rather crazy cast of characters along the way. Just when you think you know how something is going to turn out or how someone is likely to act, they often surprise you. In a way, the game's mechanics are very similarly structured as well. Sure, we have a JRPG style of game that has turn-based encounters. However, not that I used the word 'encounters' and not 'combat'. Similar to the Shin Megami Tensei, you have options other than trying to bludgeon your foe to death, but different enemies can present a variety of different options as well. Sure, if you want to go with the club-'em-to-death route, you'll get your usual JRPG staples of gold and experience, and doing so will of course make your character stronger.

But... what if there was a different way? What if maybe you could manage to get out of the encounter without fighting? Sure, you might be offered some gold when it is all said and done, but what does that mean to your character's physical development? You're not earning combat experience, which by definition helps to train you for future encounters, making you tougher along the way. So if you forgo combat, you're actually making yourself more vulnerable in later stages. So just get to whacking them down, right? Well... it's an option, but you start to realize that your choices even during encounters can have a pretty profound impact on how events play out later.

I think for me, that is the biggest hook. What's had me fascinated by titles like Dragon Age, Neverwinter Nights and other RPG games of that nature is the way your actions and decisions can impact the story in tangible ways. That is very true in Undertale, and if you want to see everything there is to experience in this game, you will have to replay it a handful of times. So, even though the core game is relatively short by RPG standards, the replay value to be found here really helps to compensate for that nightly.

My last note on the encounters, is the variety of options and methods of handling these meetings allows Undertale to stay relatively fresh. Sure, I am someone who enjoys grinding up a character to high levels for future combat domination, and you certainly can go that route here. However, there is a reason people use the term 'grind' - because it becomes repetitive and unimaginative in many RPGs. The variety that Undertale provides you helps to stave that potential boredom-by-repitition found in so many other games in the genre.

As for the presentation, the pixel art is charming if if technically unimpressive. The developer has a good eye for using the retro-inspired visuals to help create some visually diverse locations and scenes, but you are not going to be blown away here by the graphics. I mean hell, it's presented in 4:3 aspect ratio, just like it was on PC. The music on the other hand, has some of the catchiest tunes I have heard in a while now.

Undertale embraces a very quirky, offbeat sense of humor throughout its half a dozen or so hours of gameplay. At first it just looks like a throwback to classic RPGs, but in truth this game continues to surprise along the way. These surprises make Undertale a wonderfully charming, and at times emotionally charged experience that I regret not having experienced sooner. If you, like me, missed this train the first time around, don't let it pass you on by a second time. Pick up Undertale and watch it continually challenge your expectations.

Game Information

PlayStation 4
Single Player
Other Platform(s):
PlayStation Vita

Provided by Publisher

Article by Nick


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