GAME REVIEW: Undertale

written by David Steffen

Undertale is an RPG game developed by indie developer Toby Fox published by 2015. Its based on a familiar format to many gamers–the RPG, walking around the map and contending with random monster attacks and boss fights as you go fulfill your quest.

You can fight the monsters, like you’d expect. But the entire game is built so that you never have to kill anything, in fact the game is much more interesting if you don’t, because each kind of monster you face off against requires a different strategy to not kill. Your goal in each battle is to get the “spare” button to work, but often you need to prep the enemy some way. You have a menu of commands to try to each one and you never know which one will make the difference–such as “flatter” or “insult” or a variety of other things. The catch is that if you don’t kill any monsters, you don’t get any experience and level up, so you don’t get any more capable of defending yourself.

Besides the menu dynamic, the monsters are still attacking you, and it has an interesting way of dealing with it–your soul is represented by a heart in a square you can move around to dodge enemy attacks. Unlike the games it’s based on where an attack is just a damage number that pops up, if you figure out the patterns you might be able to avoid all damage entirely.

The game has a great sense of humor as well, and interesting storyline about how the dynamics of the monster world to human world works. It’s a fun game worth playing, and well worth it!

Cute, I particularly like some of the closer images of the enemies during battle seasons. Especially the warrior dogs.


Decently challenging in a different way than most RPGs. Each kind of enemy requires a new kind of strategy–there are multiple options to try and you never know which of them. It turns out it’s more trouble to spare most of the enemies than to just fight them.

No particular story (not that that’s unusual for an arcade game from this era).

Session Time
Not too badly spaced, I think most of them were within 15 minutes or so of gametime (plus the Switch can sleep at will).

Easy, pretty standard RPG.

You could at least take a couple passes at it trying to play pacifist or trying to play violent.

Takes a very familiar RPG format and does something very interesting and new with it–monsters are always presented in these kinds of games as being inherently evil, it’s nice to see something different.

A few hours of playtime, but doens’t overstay it’s welcome.

This is a very neat and original take on a genre of games I know and love, the RPG. The entire premise being based around doing your best not to kill monsters that are determined to kill you while still achieving your objectives. It’s fun and original and adds some compassion for those who usually aren’t considered to be worth it.

Published by

David Steffen

David Steffen is an editor, publisher, and writer. If you like what he does you can visit the Support page or buy him a coffee! He is probably best known for being co-founder and administrator of The Submission Grinder, a donation-supported tool to help writers track their submissions and find publishers for their work . David is also the editor-in-chief here at Diabolical Plots. He is also the editor and publisher of The Long List Anthology: More Stories From the Hugo Award Nomination List series. David also (sometimes) writes fiction, and you can follow on BlueSky for updates on cross-stitch projects and occasionally other things.

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