CHENNAI: The Steam store sells videogames — not only do they sell it at low prices (enough that piracy seems unnecessary), the Steam community actually understands games. The gamers here spend all their free waking hours on videogames, and their opinions are mostly undisputed. Utterly worthless games are given scathing reviews such as “Kids may never play games after this”. But if the game is truly enjoyable, they appreciate its creativity — and you can take their word on that. You rarely find games with ‘overwhelmingly positive’ ratings. So when I came across Undertale (for PC), I decided to try it right away.
Undertale, tells the story of a young genderless protagonist (admirably, as are many of the other characters), who falls into the underground world of monsters, and rebels against both the friendly and hostile ones to return to the human world. Unlike other game trailers that exhibit a game sequence nothing like its gameplay, Undertale’s trailer tells it as it is. With real scenes from the game, it employs very appealing taglines — “make strange friends” and “a friendly RPG where no one has to die”. A godsend to pacifist gamers; it allows you to talk your way out of fighting monsters by granting mercy, complimenting, encouraging or petting. Despite, or perhaps because of the poor graphics and 8-bit music (the sounds that come out of the old Prince of Persia and Pokemon games), the game takes you on multiple guilt trips and makes you relate to it on a metaphorical level.
Leaving aside the constant jokes and it trying hard not to be conventional RPG, the game resembles another: Earthbound, a Japanese game made for the GameBoy (this game is so confusing it will make you cry). The end sequence of Undertale breaks the fourth wall fantastically with its subtle pricks at the real world and the position you are in. The game is innocent, but uses a lot of internet references and puns. There’s a powerful monster called ‘Undyne’ (geddit?); another called ‘Dummy’ which turns out to be in fact, a toy, and a dull one at that. The title itself is a joke on the game. If you find yourself regularly foraging through Reddit, Tumblr or YouTube, this is probably the right game for you. Undertale cannot just be underplayed!
(The writer is an economics graduate who spends her leisure time preparing for the zombie apocalypse)