Toby Fox is back with his second game, along with many unanswered questions.
When Undertale was first released back in 2015, the whole gaming world seemingly dropped what they were doing to play that game— after all, everyone was talking about how life-changing it was and how any spoilers would completely tarnish the experience. It took me a few months to bite the bullet and play it through, but doing so was definitely worth it. While it certainly isn’t the greatest game of all time as some may have had you believe, it definitely satisfies the entertainment factor through dry humor, outlandish plot twists, a powerful soundtrack, and emotionally-intense characters.
The most revolutionary thing about Undertale, though, was that it was all created by one person, Toby Fox, in almost three years. It wasn’t an easy endeavor; the development platform was a hassle to use, to say the least. He even learned how to compose music through putting it together. At the time, it wasn’t clear whether he would create another game or what a future game would look like. Three years later though, Fox brought the first chapter of Deltarune to PC, and now it has made its way to the Switch. What does it look like, you ask? Simple. It’s Undertale, again, kinda.
The premise is that you play as a child named Kris (sporting a look similar to Undertale’s Frisk) who has trouble making friends with others at school. When his teacher sends Kris and another student, Susie, to go fetch a chalkboard eraser, they stumble into an underground world struggling to find the balance between light and dark. Kris and Susie explore and team up with different characters within this world to try to find a way to get home.
Just like in Undertale, the combat takes place in a turn-based system that forces you to choose between fighting enemies by physically harming them or by verbally convincing them to have a change of heart or run away. You avoid damage by moving your heart away from bullet hell-like attacks. How you approach each battle has an impact on the story—do you attempt to pacify your foes or simply beat them into submission—forcing you to think about the emotion behind your actions in that special Toby Fox way. The major difference between the two games’ combat is that Deltarune has you fighting with a party of characters instead of just solo. This unlocks more possibilities within each turn, adding more depth to the battle experience.
The intro sequence warns that Deltarune is only for players who have completed Undertale. While there are definitely parts of this chapter only fans of the original game would understand, I don’t think that there is anything in here that would spoil the first game. This is a completely new world with a few familiar faces from Undertale. It doesn’t answer any lingering questions from that game or continue the story in any obvious way. Still, I’d recommend that you play through Undertale if you haven’t already. One of the most fun parts of Deltarune for me was catching the different characters and scenarios that would reappear from Undertale.
The story is captivating and the gameplay is unique, but the music and visuals still go far above and beyond what I would ever expect from a one-man development team. Original musical motifs, plus some from Undertale, followed me throughout my journey, which made it truly feel like an adventure. Never in Deltarune would I run into repetitive or annoying music; everything is scored so as to push the story forward while not intruding on it. The environments are simple, but with just enough detail that inspires plenty of curiosity about what’s around the next corner. The character designs range from undeniably adorable to nightmarishly disturbing; different characters drastically impact the mood of whatever scene they’re a part of.
If you’re an Undertale fan, you already know exactly what you’re getting into with Deltarune. It doesn’t significantly change up the formula this time around, but I’m fine with that. Undertale was a game changer that left a wide array of possibilities for a second entry. The only major complaint that I have with Deltarune is that its creator doesn’t know when it will be completed. He has talked about putting a development team together, but we’ll have to wait and see if that ever comes to fruition. Nevertheless, I’m eager to take a second look when this sequel, or spinoff, or whatever this is, is fully realized—I just hope this happens sooner rather than later.