It is this choice that makes Undertale stand out from the crowd: the ability to progress through the entire game without taking a single life, where every single kill made is the player’s decision. This, combined with a host of colourful, endearing characters, makes the notion of killing abhorrent, and has raised debate across the internet about other games’ attitudes toward killing.
As far as gameplay elements go, it seems rather simple at first. The graphics are reminiscent of 8-bit games like Space Invaders. The main gameplay loop consists of random battles with a turn-based combat system in which the player decides whether to fight or perform actions. These actions can range from complimenting a frog, flirting with a ghost, or posing during a battle with a very sexy killer robot, all of which have their own effect on the battle’s outcomes.
During the opponent’s turn, things change into a “bullet hell” style mini-game, where white, orange or blue bullets are fired at the character’s soul, represented by a red heart. The player must then move this heart around a limited area in order to avoid the bullets. The bullets have about as much variety as the actions the player can take, from flexing arms, to bones which spell out “cool dude”, to spears flung by a captain of the royal guard.
Special mention must be given to the game’s soundtrack. Toby “Radiation” Fox is a prominent composer, having written songs for a wide variety of projects, most notably contributing tracks to the hit webcomic Homestuck. Undertale’s soundtrack is a stroke of genius, with each track perfectly evoking the correct emotions during the scenes
The game has a short yet poignant story with multiple endings. At several points during gameplay, the game uses its own mechanics to tell the story, to the extent where certain characters are aware of the “Save” mechanic.
All in all, this is a fascinating game that proves that video games, as a medium, can indeed be art.