Feels like it’s truly home now that it’s on a Nintendo console.
If you go back the last couple years and look at the games that received the most hype, you could draw two conclusions. Either the market for quirky RPGs in the vein of Earthbound is underserved, or the base that craves them has some of the most passionate fans around. While there’s likely a bit of truth to both arguments, it might just be that creating an RPG that has the right mix of a compelling story, sense of humour, and a unique combat mechanic is a rare accomplishment. That once-a-generation feat last occurred in 2016, the Toby Fox-developed Undertale was so beloved by the base that a copy of the game was presented to the Pope by a fan. Now two years later, the port to Switch arrives without the same level of fanfare and with a much smaller audience of folks who haven’t played it. But even in the shadow of its own success, Undertale is still one of the those gaming experiences worth having.
Going in blind, or at least with as little knowledge as possible, is the best way to experience Undertale. Only a short explanation to update the current status of the world is provided at the onset: Monsters and humans once lived together, but a war that broke out between them led to the banishment of the monster race to a cave inside a mountain, never to be heard from again. Any humans that were foolish enough to explore the area have yet to return, and this is where we find the hero. The protagonist you’ll play as is one of these foolish humans, awakening at the bottom of a cavern, deep within the monster world.
The one piece of advice you should have before starting: don’t be fooled into playing Undertale as a traditional RPG. Sure, a fighting option is present, and successfully winning battles provide experience points, but it’s not the intended way to progress. The true experience is to play as a pacifist, and it’s both possible and encouraged to complete the game without killing anyone. By showing mercy, instead of attacking monsters, a unique avoidance mechanic is triggered. This comprises of moving a heart around inside of a box, and avoiding different objects and attacks that are specific to each monster.
This version of Undertale is, apart from a few minor additions, the same experience as on PC. Those few add-ons can’t really be discussed without spoilers, but what I can say is that the overall experience will remain the same. The Switch version is really meant for people like myself, interested in playing but only on a Nintendo console. If you own it on PC then the only reason to pick it up would to be able to play it on the go.
Going through the experience today, it’s easy to see why Undertale was the talk of the town two years ago. It’s not an overly long playthrough, but it’s an impactful 7+ hours. A slow burn that starts off cute, but builds up to an absolutely thrilling last couple hours. I’m not sure if the Pope has gotten around to playing it yet, but he would be doing himself a disservice if he hasn’t.