Undertale review (PS4)

Four and a half runs. And I want more.


When Toby Fox brought his project, "UnderTale", on Kickstarter in 2014, many decided to trust his idea, going so far as to fund the campaign up to an astonishing $ 51.000 (against the $ XNUMX initially requested by the developer). Already from the demo, the success of Undertale it was marked; and, following its release in 2015, Fox's splendid masterpiece was ready to enter the history of video games as a cult, thanks to its countless merits.

Spoiler alert: Undertale is a masterpiece. After so many years, many of you will already know it, and those few who have not yet played it will surely have heard of it in a thousand different contexts. Last 15th August, in any case, Toby Fox has finally released the versions PlayStation 4 e PlayStation Vita di Undertale, allowing even Sony console players to enjoy this wonderful title, previously only available on Steam. I therefore had the opportunity to dive for the first time into the two-dimensional world built by the developers, exploring it thoroughly to discover all its darkest and most fascinating secrets.

And I fell in love with it.


Tested version: 1.06



Two Worlds, One Family
Two worlds in contrast ...

We will summarize briefly the plot and premises of Undertale, for those who have not yet had the opportunity to deepen them.

Long ago, the Earth was inhabited by two races: monsters and humans. One day, however, a war broke out between the two races, which saw humans victorious; following that defeat, the monsters were sealed underground with a powerful spell, a magical barrier that prevented them from escaping the underworld. Over time, and unable to move around the surface again, the monsters adapted to their new home, but they never ceased to cherish the hope that, one day, they would be able to destroy the Wall and see the sun again.

Things will change when a child, out of curiosity, climbs a mountain and slips inside a giant cave. We players will control that child (to whom we can give a completely random name), and in his shoes we will explore "Home", the boundless underground region where monsters have created their own society.

… In which nothing is as it seems

Immediately, Undertale it is striking for the depth of its intentions and for how inspired the ideas behind it are. The player will be greeted by a very tender golden flower (Flowey), who will take care to show us how things work in the Underworld, also giving us a first smattering of the game controls; the bulk of the work, however, will be done by Toriel, the first monster we will meet and also one of the best characters of the whole adventure: rather than attack us and hurt us, Toriel will welcome us into his home and take care of us, showing us right away that, perhaps, monsters are not all as bad as they might seem.

And it will certainly not be the only surprise.



Late Show with Mettaton EX
The player will be able to count on an enormous freedom of approach to every single game

What we loved most, during our many adventures in the world of Undertale, is the complete and total freedom of approach to every single game. There are many important choices, but all of them can be easily summarized in two extremes: Genocide e Clemenza. It will in fact be possible to exterminate every single monster (or almost) present in the game, or to do the exact opposite: do not kill absolutely anyone. Both, although it may not seem so, are equally difficult and complex choices to carry out in their own way, and therefore require a strong will on the part of the player, who in most cases he must already know what he wants to do exactly throughout the entire run. For this reason, your first game is likely to be, rather, completely Neutral: some monsters, perhaps, will be knocked down, while others will be spared. In all three cases you reach completely different endings, but it will certainly not be the only result: depending on your choices, even real pieces of the entire game could take a different form.

We have exposed the three different approaches to the game for a very specific reason, rather than for a simple duty to report: to bring to light the maniacal care that went into the design and writing of Undertale. The beauty of a "Pacifist" run is absolutely indisputable, but it is equally indisputable to see how the subsoil will change its attitudes towards us, if we decide to kill a little more monsters than we should. The streets will become more deserted, everything will become more desolate as we pass, and many dialogues will become highly disturbing. And the beauty of writing emerges even in small details, like a shopkeeper who says he is "too old to face us" but who, at the same time, expecting us to talk to us, "allowed others to escape".



Attacking isn't always the best choice

If to make us fear from underground it is enough to fight against anything that moves without any mercy, at the same time it is incredibly interesting how the choice to attack is paradoxically the most banal, in Undertale: if we decide to "save" the life of a monster, in fact, it will first be necessary to weaken it (a rather logical choice), or (and this is a much more interesting situation) have a conversation with him, discovering his personality. The more good choices we make, the more reluctant the monster will be to fight us; once a certain "threshold of reluctance" is exceeded, it will finally be possible to "spare him". The price to pay is that, by not killing the monsters that will face us (bosses included) we will get gold but not EXP points, and consequently a "Pacifist" run will be faced entirely at Liv. 1. Difficult, of course; but far from impossible. All in all, you just need to know the bosses all the way.

And how not to mention all those small changes to the dialogue lines, those tiny details that change from one run to another based on what happened in the previous game? This is enough to understand how, in Undertale, nothing is left to chance.


A Tale Of Two Sons

The degree of freedom provided to the player is important, of course, just as the game system designed by Toby Fox is fascinating, which often blends multiple genres into an effective and fun melting pot all the way: bullet sections alternate with the dominant RPG system. - shell against the toughest bosses, games of pure reflexes, puzzles to solve, strategic skills and much, much more. But that's enough to define Undertale a spotless masterpiece? For some, probably, yes. For others, only in part. It is true, all in all, that the continuous back-tracking in some runs can be tedious, and the movement between the various environments (despite the numerous fast travel systems) is not exactly instantaneous. But Undertale's biggest flaw is another, much more painful than some “simple” technical problem.


Undertale lives, under the player's fingertips, and lives a life he could only have in the form of a video game


A work of pure and wonderful beauty

Unfortunately, Undertale knows how to satisfy even the players who, understandably, may not be satisfied only by a deep gameplay system and studied down to the smallest detail, in which each monster requires a different combination of "words" to be defeated. Unfortunately, Undertale is even written by god, and told even better. Every single character, NPC, opponent or boss, is characterized to perfection and has a personality of its own, unique and inimitable. They range from the (deliberately stereotyped) nerdy scientist to the relentless warrior, passing through the comedian and an incredible number of insecure and shy characters, so profound in their characterization that it is impossible not to become attached to each of them. And, through all its characters, the work of Toby Fox tells a story with unexpected poetry, moving, engaging and wonderful, and also extremely entertaining with its well-chosen and enjoyable humor. All with a narrative that does not mind breaking the fourth wall, meta-narrative and meta-referential techniques, countless citations to other works of pop culture and so on. Along with a simple message: those facing the world of Undertale must not be fooled by appearances. A lesson that we are taught right away, during our very first contact with one of the creatures of the subsoil.



A work pulsating with life

Undertale, in other words, it is a gigantic work, deeply studied and written by a wonderful pen. The story told by Toby Fox involves much more than the simple clash between two cultures, not disdaining hints of conscience, soul, knowledge, hope and many other elements. Undertale lives, under the player's fingertips, and lives a life that he could have had only in the form of a video game, a life that no one would be able to forget once the adventure was over. Two, three, four times they are.

The biggest problem of Undertale, therefore, it does not lie in a drop in frames, in a bad choice of game-design, in some sporadic glitch or in a flaw in the gameplay system. It's not in the soundtrack, beautiful to make you shiver, it is not in the splendid artistic sector, and it certainly is not in the writing of the whole story, which may surprise you in its extraordinary ability to change according to your choices - while remaining consistent with itself. And it doesn't even lie in longevity: 7 hours is more than enough to complete the first run, but you will need at least 20 to see all the endings, and by then you will have truly assimilated Undertale so much to be okay for quite a while.

No, the real problem with Undertale it is not in any of the things we have just mentioned. The real problem of Undertale is that all good things, sooner or later, have an end, and at some point even your underground adventures will find no other surprises to discover. It will be a wonderful, poetic, full and beautiful ending, which will surely leave much more than a simple memory in our mind; but, nonetheless, it will still be a farewell to Undertale's world, a salute to her splendid story and her innocent boyish beauty. A farewell that, fortunately, could easily be a simple "goodbye", in wish for when we will finally be able to relive the adventure alongside a person we love.

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Verdict 9.5 / 10 My underground hides unimaginable secrets;) Comment Undertale is a videogame work of art, one of those rare pearls that become more and more common in the world of video games and which, fortunately, cannot stop emanating beauty. Even after two years from the official release, Undertale manages to convince for the depth of gameplay and for the narrative beauty, for the writing and for the depth of game-design, and in general for the incredible care taken by the developers in creating such an intense experience. and convincing. The work of Toby Fox is an unmissable adventure for every video game lover, an indisputable masterpiece that, once finished, will make you regret not having lived it before. Pros and cons (At least) four profoundly different endings
Original and effective gameplay choices
Extraordinary soundtrack
Delicious style x Backtracking can get boring
x Sooner or later, unfortunately, it ends

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