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Undertale

Moby ID: 74938
Windows Specs
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Special Edition

Description official descriptions

Years after a devastating war between humans and monsters, a child has fallen through a hole and into the monsters' underground world. Under the care of a kindly monster woman named Toriel, they learn the basics of the underground world, including that they may be attacked by other monsters who are less friendly. After the child leave's Toriel's care, it's up to them how they proceed through the underground, including whether they kill the monsters in their way or try to find peaceful resolutions to conflict.

Undertale is an Eastern RPG with some action aspects in its combat system. In the overworld, the player explores areas, solves puzzles, and talks to NPCs. When a battle is triggered, typically through random encounter, the game switches to the combat screen. A heart representing the child's soul appears in a small box, in which objects representing the monsters' attacks appear and must be dodged in real time. On the child's turn, they can attack monsters more directly through the fight command. A meter that determines the strength of the player's attack must be hit with good timing in order to deal more damage.

Alternatively, players may choose to perform friendly actions in battle or show mercy to the opponent in order to resolve conflict without bloodshed. It is possible to finish every encounter in the game without killing anyone, though some monsters are more difficult to do this with than others. The player may need to perform certain actions in the overworld before some monsters can be befriended.

Although only one Undertale save file can be kept at a time, the game remembers certain player actions across playthroughs, mainly in reference to how violent or peaceful they were. Resetting to an earlier save or starting a new game after specific actions are taken can affect how some NPCs treat the player and how the story is ultimately resolved.

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Credits (Windows version)

938 People (40 developers, 898 thanks) · View all

Undertale by
Logo Design
Cutscene Artist
Overworld Artist + Animator (Area 1, 2, 3)
Shop Artist (Area 2, 3)
Tile Artist (Area 2)
Tile Artist (Area 3, 4)
Hypertester
Main BG Artist
Assistant Monster Designer
Original Temmie Monster Sketch
Extra Art and Testing
Photoshop Flowey Battle Co-design
Programming Help
Other Monster Designs
Guitar
Bratty & Catty Help
Japanese Localization
  • 8-4 Ltd.
Producer
Coordinator
Translator
[ full credits ]

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 91% (based on 51 ratings)

Players

Average score: 4.2 out of 5 (based on 88 ratings with 1 reviews)

You'll laugh, you'll cry, and you might pet some dogs

The Good
First of all, it's very difficult to talk about what makes Undertale great without spoiling a few of its secrets, because it's one of those games that aims to surprise the player and toy with their expectations. I'm not going to reveal anything huge, but if you truly want to experience this game spoiler-free, you might want to skip down to the end of the review.

If you've been paying any attention to game reviews or social media, you've probably heard something about Undertale. As of this writing, it is the big game that everyone's talking about. The more jaded among you might think it's just another fad game that doesn't deserve the hype it gets, and you'd be forgiven for that. You'd also be forgiven for dismissing it as just another "quirky", retro indie that gets by on some combination of novelty and nostalgia. It's not a game that can be accurately judged at first glance. I know I misjudged it.

The thing about Undertale is that it tries to blend a lot of different ideas together in a way that very few developers can successfully pull off. It simultaneously tries to be an homage to the Mother series, a metafictional narrative about time travel and moral choice, a (mostly) family-friendly story about friendship and cartoon monsters, and more. And amazingly, despite being almost completely made by a single person, it succeeds in all these endeavors.

I was first pulled in about half an hour after starting the game, near the end of the first main area. My character, a kid of indeterminate age and gender, had fallen into a strange world and been adopted by a motherly goat creature named Toriel. Even though I knew the game was expecting me to leave her behind to continue the plot, I didn't want to. Could I really leave this lonely old woman who was just trying to protect me from the outside world? Well, yes, because there was no other way to continue the game, but there was a genuine moment of hesitation brought on by how earnest and heartfelt the writing was. Toriel, as her name suggests, is a tutorial character. She could have been as flat as any other RPG character with a similar function, but that's not what Undertale is about. In order for its discussions of moral choice to work, it needs to immerse you in its world, to make you feel its characters are more than just bits and bytes. I may not have had the option to stay with Toriel, but it's a testament to Toby Fox's skill as a writer that I was already placing so much weight on my actions within the world he'd created.

This isn't to say that Undertale never lets up on the heavy stuff. No more than two minutes after I left Toriel, I was treated to a pun-filled scene that introduced two skeleton characters, both of whom went on to become frequent sources of comic relief. Battles, too, are more often than not lighthearted; one memorable miniboss was a dog who grew more and more excited as I pet him, and I continued to do so long after I could have ended the battle just because I was enjoying the increasingly silly flavor text the game was throwing at me. But the jokes also serve to strengthen one of the game's main themes: even though all the other characters are monsters, they aren't monsters. They love, they hope, and yes, they laugh, just like we do. And even though you can choose to kill them, should you? Can you bring yourself to do it at all, knowing they're just trying to live their lives? I don't think I could, even if they are just parts of a game.

The morality system, centered around mercy versus murder, affects the direction the story takes. Choose to be a bloodthirsty killing machine, and you'll find yourself in a horror narrative in which you're the villain. A more merciful player will see a more positive ending, but you'll only see the true ending if you go above and beyond to not only spare every enemy, but make friends with the bosses and other major characters. If you can accomplish this, you'll be treated to what's probably the best final boss battle I've ever been in.

I'm not the type of person to openly display my emotions. Regardless of how I feel on the inside, I rarely show it on my face. But Undertale's true final boss battle brought me to tears. Throughout the ten hours I spent in the underground, I'd found some surprising, sometimes dark things about the monsters' history - and I was able to not only set everything right, but give a moment of pure love and happiness to the one who needed it most. The fight ended in one of the most emotionally powerful scenes I've ever experienced in a video game, one that I'll remember for years to come.

The Bad
Although Undertale is one of the most perfect games I've ever played, it's not completely flawless. Backtracking can be annoying at times, due mostly to a number of puzzles and obstacles that need to be dealt with every time you need to get through the room they're in. Fortunately, a fast travel option opens up in the late game, but it's too little too late for people who like to take their time and thoroughly explore everything before moving on.

The other main complaint I have is that most random encounters are very easy. In some respects, this is good, because it keeps the game accessible to even the most inexperienced players. However, it also means it's a real bore to encounter the same monster multiple times, especially if you're playing peacefully and need to take the extra turns to spare everyone.

The Bottom Line
I fully believe Undertale is a classic in the making. In addition to its unique battle system and stellar, often heartfelt writing, it boasts tons of replay value due to its branching paths and emphasis on choice. There are also quite a few secrets and Easter eggs to find, which contributes to the sense of discovery that I think is vital for a truly excellent game. If you like Eastern RPGs, adventure, or fantasy, then Undertale is a must-play

Windows · by Harmony♡ (21847) · 2015

Trivia

Reused and Remixed Audio

Some songs and other audio clips in the game originated from other projects that lead developer Toby Fox has worked on. Perhaps most notably, the boss theme "Megalovania" was composed by Fox for an EarthBound ROM hack he made in his teens, and was later remixed for the webcomic Homestuck. Flowey's laughter also originated in the comic, where it was used for the character Caliborn. Lastly, the track "Fallen Down" was composed for I Miss You, a tribute album made using EarthBound's soundfont.

Sans and Papyrus Inspiration

Two of the game's major characters are Sans and Papyrus, a pair of skeletons named after the fonts their dialogue is rendered in. This is reminiscent of the webcomic Helvetica, in which the eponymous protagonist is a skeleton who shares his name with a font. The comic's author, J.N. Wiedle, is indeed listed in the credits as having provided inspiration for the characters.

Awards

  • GameFAQs' Best. Game. Ever. vote winner (2015):
    • 57.82% in the final vs. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
    • 51.2% in the semifinal vs. Super Smash Bros. Melee
    • 51.33% in the quarterfinal vs. Super Mario 64
    • 51.52% in the division III final vs. Pokémon Red/Blue/Yellow/Green Version
    • 54.84% in round 3 vs. Super Mario World
    • 55.74% in round 2 vs. Fallout 3
    • 50.95% in round 1 vs. Mass Effect 3
  • The Game Awards 2015
    • Best Independent Game, Nominated
  • The Dragon Awards – Best Science Fiction or Fantasy PC/Console Game (2016):
    • Nominated
  • Steam Awards
    • 2016 — The 'I’m Not Crying, There’s Something In My Eye' Award — Nominated
    • 2017 — The 'Best Soundtrack' Award — Nominated
  • Comics Gaming Magazine
    • Game of the Year, 2015
  • IGN
    • PC Game of the Year, 2015
  • Zero Punctuation
    • Game of the Year, 2015
    • Best Game of the 2010s

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  • MobyGames ID: 74938
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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Harmony♡.

PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series, Nintendo Switch, PS Vita added by Rik Hideto. Windows Apps added by Kam1Kaz3NL77. Xbox Cloud Gaming, PlayStation Now, Linux added by Sciere.

Additional contributors: Havoc Crow, Utritum, Cavalary.

Game added September 27, 2015. Last modified December 7, 2023.