Undertale’ Video Game Review

Sean Sawyer, age 14

In a market where originality and innovation are rare, Toby Fox’s “Undertale” achieves with one person and $50,000 what no multimillion dollar publisher could. This game is absolutely overflowing with personality, and people have taken notice. At the time of writing, this game is ranked 11th in Best PC Games of All Time on Metacritic, alongside such prestigious titles as “Half-Life 2,” “BioShock” and “Skyrim.” These are games by some of the most skilled designers, programmers and artists with practically infinite budgets, and one quirky little indie game manages to compete with them.

At first glance, the main gimmick of “Undertale” is that the player can choose to kill or spare their enemies in combat. Not unique, considering how many games have similar morality systems. “BioShock,” “Fallout,” “Mass Effect,” and “Dishonored” all come to mind, but “Undertale” manages something none of these games had. None of these games legitimately get me to be a good person, and I don’t feel bad about doing terrible things in them. “Undertale” is the first game to make it painful to be a bad person.

When I started out, I played this game like I would any RPG. I didn’t bother talking to other characters, thinking that they would probably just give me useless information. I killed the enemies that I came across, watching them disintegrate into dust in the same wholesome way that I had come to expect from RPGs. I found out later that for most people, the fight against Toriel (the mother figure who adopts you at the beginning of the story) was a turning point in their playthrough, where they started sparing everyone they could. I didn’t have that realization. I killed Toriel, not because I particularly wanted to, but because I thought it was the way to progress the story. The whole game went on like this, and the experience was short, lonely and depressing.

At this point, I looked into it some more, breaking my usual rule of not reading about a game while still playing it. I had to have missed something, right? In forum posts and reviews of the game, I found plenty of people who had done the same thing as I did. I started a pacifist playthrough, and finally I realized why people loved this game so much. The characters who I killed last time without a second thought were now friends, and the game seemed to be full of excitement and humor. There was value in being good beyond a few extra points on a karma meter. “Undertale” dismantles the fluid morality of other RPGs and replaces it with a system where the player’s actions have real, substantial consequences.