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classic of the month : UNDERTALE

Monday, 1. July, 2019

TOBY FOX, 2015 (various systems)
presented by: NILS „Niilo“ SOMMER

Undertale is the real deal. It’s exactly the kind of narrative adventure that future generations should encounter in school lessons. It’s a game that stands out for its wit and originality, causing you sit with your mouth agape, crying, laughing and trying to imagine how a work of such quality could have been created.

But not so fast – what exactly is Undertale? Undertale is a role-playing game from 2015 developed by Toby Fox, and focuses on the topic of fascistic violence like no other game. There is no high score for executing enemies and violence always falls back on the perpetrator. Similar games include LISA: The Painful, and Hotline Miami; however, they are far more violent.

Undertale is anything else but brutal. It is soft, friendly, causes you to reflect and presents you with a diverse, wonderful and impressive cast of characters. It conveys a message, which seems out of place or overburdened in so many games – that in the end love and friendship are always stronger than hate. Much stronger. Non-violent conflict resolution has never been so beautiful.

This portrayal can only be convincing because there is the possibility to take a different route: don’t make friends, don’t get to know the cast and as a result experience what violence really means. Like the harvesting of the Little Sisters in Bioshock or key decisions in works by Telltale Games after which a character is simply gone. And won’t return.

Undertale carries the topic in a light-footed manner, but has a lot to manage to bring it closer to the player. The game only works so well because the ingenious soundtrack supports the rather simple combat system and the simple 8-bit-depictions – MEGALOVANIA is perhaps the most popular track of video game music of this generation of games. In addition, many details of the game are hidden behind variables. Many new things can be discovered over a long period of time.

Undertale appears alongside AAA titles like The Witcher 3, Metal Gear Solid 5 or Bloodborne for good reason. Hundreds of game makers work in the background of such games, composing an orchestral production of gaming. Undertale, however, is and remains a small, private house concert. It is great to see that the experience of small as well as large titles are recognized and celebrated.

For me, Undertale marks a little feel-good spot I travel to every year to play through – fully pacifistic, of course. I can recite the lines by heart and it always motivates me to reflect upon my own games and revamp them a tiny bit more.

To all visitors, whether you are 15 or 150 years old, no matter which party you vote for, where you are from or what kind of games you are into: Please check out Undertale. Maybe it is the game that you have always been looking for :)

In this spirit: Stay Determined!
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