It’s about time that a masterpiece like Undertale finally makes it way to the PS4 and Vita. This review is for the PS4 version, I have yet to play it on the vita, but I assume that everything is about the same. I have previously played Undertale on Steam, but I only got about 20 minutes in. Something about the game just felt off, especially with the huge amount of praise it always received. I just never got into the game. Knowing that it was coming to PS4 though and with a platinum instantly got me interested. So how does Undertale do on Sony’s flagship console? How many dogs did I pet in my play through of Undertale….not enough…not nearly enough.
Undertale is the ultimate amalgamation of story and gameplay. It’s story is clear and precise. Obviously, no spoilers here, because trust me, you will want to buy this game. The introduction to the game is simple enough. There is a mountain where people disappear and are never heard of again. This world has monsters and humans and that’s about all you need to know in the very beginning of the game. The introduction is clear and to the point. This is where the glory of Undertale begins.
It becomes clear as time goes on that everything isn’t as normal as you may have first guessed. From monsters that try to coddle you in a house to monsters that just need a friend. The characters in Undertale are a treat and a glorious addition to the entirety of the package. This is because Undertale has several different ways you can play it. The more violent you are in the game, the more violent characters become. The more mercy and kindness you show, the more you are shown.
(F is for friends who do stuff together!)
This is a gameplay mechanic but it works right into the story beautifully. It creates a completely different kind of feeling and atmosphere in the game itself. In a typical RPG, which undertale is most certainly not, there is always a type of tension. You get into a battle and you say to yourself “I’m going to take this guy down!” In Undertale, depending on how you play, it can take a complete 180 degree turn. When walking around and getting into battles my mentality wasn’t how do I kill this, it was how can I help them.
This makes the story feel entirely different. Getting into a boss fight with a character that was chasing me was intense. I ran for my life and then when that character got into a risky situation, I didn’t want them to suffer. I didn’t want them to die or be harmed. These types of emotional choices are set upon you throughout the game. The game wants your story to be personal and makes those choices matter. My emotional connection to the story is one that will be different depending on how other players decide to take on the challenges set upon them.
(Like the most absurd trivia game in the universe!!!!!)
Seeing those differences is the entirety of the story. There is an overarching story of well which is simply a young boys journey home. Undertale though, is so much more than that. It is about a boy and him overcoming the violence that begets violence. It is about taking a higher path, not taking the path of least resistance. Sure it’s easy to swing a sword, but it’s much more emotionally relevant to connect with the world around you.
That being said the base story of Undertale is fantastic. The more I think about the choices I made makes me question if what I did was right or wrong. Was it wrong to lead this character on and to make him think that I love him? Did I make the right choice in saving the life of someone who had just gone on a good 5 minute rampage attempting to kill me? It’s these questions that make the story of Undertale much more than the basic plot. Undertales story is fantastic. Period.
(Like this ghost, he is much more than just a ghost…he is a story)
Undertale is an RPG, well sort of. It’s much more classic adventure with an old school RPG system akin to a dungeon crawler. Everyone takes turns, but attacks work in a weird manner. This is because combat is made out to be a mini-game. It isn’t a simple you hit attack and deal damage or even vice-versa. It becomes a game where anything can happen and situations can change in the blink of an eye. Sure it’s not the most flashy combat, but it doesn’t have to be either.
While you attack it’s a pretty basic situation. You are trying to get hit your attack button as close to the middle of a bar to deal maximum damage. Then it comes to enemies. Enemies have a type of mini-game you have to play. Instead of them doing damage you have to dodge their attacks as a heart. This system is insanely fun, challenging and well done. Sometimes it’s tears that are flying at you and you have to dodge them, sometimes it’s bombs, bullets, little dogs, birds or even lasers.
(It can be pretty hectic, almost like a bullet hell—except you have no bullets)
This system makes it super unique and a blast to play. The game also take this system to heart. There is text based actions you can do and with every enemy they are different. You may find a gelatinous glob that you have to imitate to get it to be happy. There may be an airplane that you have to get to fall in love with you. This all comes down to how you want to play Undertale. Sure you can kill everything, but you can also spare their lives in combat.
To spare a monster you have to get them to like you or calm down. One of my favorite examples of this are the dogs. There are a few varieties of dogs in Undertale and each one is more different from the last. There are some that want you to play with them, some want you to pet them and some can’t see you unless you move. This makes each encounter a complete blast!
(Every monster is unique and has a lot characterization)
Now Undertale also has different gear and equipment that you can utilize and in my pacifist play-through the only thing that ended up mattering to me was better armor. There are weapons to find and a wide variety of things to find laying about in the world. There are a variety of items to heal you and all that jazz, but for me that didn’t matter too much. Now playing through attacking everyone it takes a complete 180 as well.
The entire game becomes about the best equipment and being stocked on items to assist you. To me though it was the world of Undertale that really mattered. I loved exploring every environment to completion. There are secrets hidden at every corner and even pop culture references time to time. One other great thing is the puzzles. Undertale is full of puzzles for you to figure out.
(Like this doozy)
One of my favorite parts of these puzzles is that answers aren’t always right in front of your face. These puzzles can be challenging, however they are always fair. When I came across a puzzle that I instantly knew didn’t have an answer I sat there and had to question why the heck it was in the game. Moments later I had my answer and I was laughing because it had to deal with the fact that you needed to think.
Undertales gameplay is just a master class of simplicity and complexity. It doesn’t take a genius to look at the gameplay to say this looks boring. In reality though it is some of the best designed gameplay out there. It doesn’t need to have a million different abilities or magic spells to be special. It takes a simple concept, turns it on its head and makes the gameplay matter in more ways than one.
(The obvious answer here is the dog want’s to be petted)
Undertale is not a pretty game. I mean that in a good way though, the main character isn’t a handsome prince or even an extremely well realized character model. The monsters are simplistic, being black and white drawings and the world that you explore isn’t a vividly detailed environment. This is why Undertale works so well. It’s not meant to be a world that is all happy all the time.
The monsters in this world resemble things you may have seen in other games or even just something out of a comic book, but it works. Every monster is unique, dogs, skeletons, gelatinous Bundt cakes and weird elf ladies alike. There is a sense of personality behind everything. This is what gives Undertale such a great presentation.
Take for example the first monster you meet, well okay, 2nd monster you meet. She is an extremely kind individual and you don’t even have to 2nd guess that. You know it just from what she is wearing and how her character model is created. She seems nice. Then take examples like the character who is constantly chasing you through the story. When you see their face you feel like you are seeing true evil. When you fight against frogs early on in the game they don’t seem like a threat.
In fact most of the games monsters never seem like threats at all. Most of the characters you will meet are not evil and vile people and that is all conveyed through the brilliant text and character models. Of course the world is also part of the presentational masterpiece. You will journey through a wide variety of locations. From abandoned ruins and even to the lava filled land of hotland (okay the names may not be the most imaginative).
(This rat bastard…or rather…flower bastard….or you know whatever)
These difference places made me want to more about the game, explore every nook and cranny and want to more about this game than I ever thought was possible. There is so much to love about what this game does right. It isn’t bogged down by unnecessary voice acting or music that feels out of place. Everything is just so well realized.
Now I hate to be the Debbie downer here, but the trophies in Undertale, are the exact opposite of the game. They are actually pretty funny, but they aren’t inventive or even a challenge to complete. I have talked about difficult games to platinum on here and even some that are just so time inclusive that it’s the only game you will play for months (injustice 2). The real problem here is the lack of innovation.
So let’s break it down. The trophies consist of going to specific areas in the game that are all story related, finding 4 items and then donating a total of 350 gold to a new area that is hidden (it’s pretty easy to find, it’s in papyrus’s fridge). When I first saw the trophy list I didn’t know what to think because I had never beaten Undertale, or really got that far into it to understand.
(The trophy list I wanted)
The reality is you don’t even have to beat the game to achieve the platinum. You just need to play pretty far into it, which sadly only took me about 4 hours to get the platinum. I mean, that’s kind of ridiculous right!? This game encourages you to do things in different ways, it hides secrets everywhere and is such an innovative game in so many ways, why wasn’t the trophy list given this kind of love and care?
I love an easy platinum, but this platinum? I feel almost ashamed with how easy it is. Sure I am going to replay it differently a few times, but I wish there was more added here. I wish that there was more care given to this list. More time, more innovation, more ways to play the game. I am disappointed.
(The trophy list I got….)
The Final Verdict!
Look I am the Platinumist and no matter how much trophies matter to me, I’m not going to dock a game because it’s trophy list is unimaginative, which by the way, it is. The point is that Undertale is a fantastic game through and through. It hits highs that AAA game developers can’t hit because they are trying to make some guys pores look like they are bursting through his face. Undertale is a master class game, one that everyone needs to play. It doesn’t matter the types of games you like, Undertales story and gameplay combine into a great mixture that extremely well realized. So of course I give Undertale my platinum rating of-