Undertale on Switch Review
Let me start this review by admitting I’m very late to the Undertale party. I have never tried it before the Switch release and I tried my damndest to go in blind. All I knew was that a lot of people whose opinions I respect and listen to called Undertale one of their favorite games ever and their reviews told me that all my choices mattered in the game. I was so excited to try this well reviewed game finally and take it on the go wherever I wanted. Yet never have I had a game so hyped for me, to be so utterly let down.
You ever watch a movie, or a show and it just thinks it’s super clever. Like the writer or writers all sat around in the writing room just loving what they putting down on paper. Yet in reality it just comes across as shallow or not as well thought out as the writers think it is. Examples include but not limited to The Pirate of the Caribbean sequels, the Saw sequels, Star Trek Enterprise and most any Bay film. They just think they are so damn clever but it never really brings it over the finish line. This game thinks every bit of it, the story, the dialogue, even its puzzles are extremely clever or funny and it fails at all of it.
Comedy is a very subjective. What might make certain people belly over in laughter won’t even bring a smile to the other. Some might just say that Undertale is just not my humor, but that was the problem; its jokes are right up my alley, bad puns and unexpected humor can really make me laugh. I would say bad puns are a true weakness of mine yet every time Sans or anybody else whipped out their million bad puns I just groaned. I groaned at most of the jokes in the game really, nothing connected with me except for one joke. When you go with a ghost into his house and he asks you to join him in laying on the floor and wallow together. As you lay together a space scape fills the screen and some shoegazy music comes on. That connected and I literally laughed out load. Yet this moment only gave me hope and the rest of the game continued not delivering.
Fundamentally Undertale is a turnbased RPG with puzzle elements in its over world. I will talk about its rpg elements later but I want to talk about what is a major part of this game, it’s puzzles. I like a good puzzle, so do you, so does everyone. That aha moment of figuring out a puzzle is one of humanitys favorite feelings. It’s why we all love a good mystery and Undertale has some mystery in it. Yet most of the mystery and aha moments are stolen from you as it is used for yet another groan worthy joke. So many puzzles just end in a simple joke. Some might find this charming but I just felt like I wasn’t playing the game, not really. The game held my hand through a lot of puzzles. Then at random they jump the difficulty of the puzzles. Not just a little ether. It feels like a different sort of puzzle for a different game. It just made me groan more.
Undertale is known for being a very popular video game soundtrack and its music is one of the better parts of the game. It varies widely but seems to fit into this strange world that is being built here. It definitely helped me actually make it through completion, at five hours of gameplay. Yet of course Undertale let’s down again. There are big sections of this game with no music playing. You may say it is for dramatic effect but it happens a lot and in places that don’t seem to be using it for effect. Just nothing but the pitter patter of your characters feet. Now not every moment of a game or movie needs music, sometimes it is just better to have nothing but here in Undertale it doesn’t feel like it was thought out to have no music, rather, they just didn’t have music fof certain parts, so they didn’t put any in. As a result it comes off like the music is missing rather than simply removed for effect.
Now I’m going to talk about the part of Undertale I actually loved. The battle system. The combo of turn based combat and shoot-em-up battle as your attacks is pure genius. It gets you involved with the turn based combat in a way that keeps you engaged. My mind was flooded with ideas and inspiration from just a few battles. I was like “wow, I can’t wait to see where they can take this.” It’s the main reason I continued to play Undertale, I had to see how cool this mechanic could get. Yet Undertale let’s down again. They never give you anything actually interesting Shoot em up wise until the end and even then just seems not as good as the games that is obviously inspired by. For most of the game they use the shoot em up elements for a quick visual joke and this would be fine if the bad jokes were fun to play through but they are not.
Now I played through one play through of Undertale. I got the “neutral” ending, I tried to not kill everything in my path because the game tried to make me feel bad for certain characters and they give you options on not to kill them. See there is my main point there, the games moral or main story drive is that you should feel for the usual monsters in rpgs as they just go about their business of being rpg monsters. If I had been charmed by the characters I think I would have enjoyed my playthrough more but they just made me cringe and I only ever felt a connection with the ghost and his space out moment. Now I watched all the other endings and I can say that any way you would have played through to the end does what the rest of the game does, it doesn’t bring it across.
I know my thoughts on this game will not align with most people. You may have been charmed, or thought it was funny and you know what, you are right. If you found it funny this game would be a lot more enjoyable. It’s kind of like seeing a bad comedy movie, some might find it funny but if you don’t, it won’t seem like it will ever end.
5 out of 10
GoG Break Down:
System: Nintendo Switch
Price Paid: $12.99 (30% off on eShop sale)
Hours played: 5 ½ loooong hours
Number of groans: at least ten out loud