Released October 31st with little, to no, warning, Undertale’s creator Toby Fox has put out another one of his charming works into the world, titled Deltarune. Except that this time around, things are set to get even darker than his previous venture. For those unaware (and have been living under rocks for the last three years), Undertale is the critically acclaimed, narrative-driven RPG which garnered mainstream attention in 2015 because of its writing, lovable characters, and unique gameplay elements.
Please bare in mind that this review does talk about the ending of Deltarune (Ep.1), thus spoiling it, so go play it for free before continuing reading
Welcome Back Human
Deltarune, which is an anagram of ‘Undertale’, is the free to download, spin-off title that seems to focus on a new story above, and below, ground. You take control of Kris, a young human heading to school after a summer break. All seems well as Kris lurches out of bed, and is accosted by his carer for not getting up earlier. After a short introduction of the Above town you’re living in, complete with smiling residents, Kris arrives in school ready to get stuck into his studies. Of course, all this would be lovely if not for the actual introduction before this opening.
Upon opening the game, the player is greeted directly by a mysterious, unseen voice that demands the player “create a suitable vessel”. This pseudo-psychedelic opening is utterly confusing in a way. Because it ultimately means nothing. Nothing is gained from this according to the voice, and yet why include it at all then. It pales in comparison to the rest of the, short, experience that is part one of Deltarune. Yet perhaps it signals what the player cannot do in this game, unlike in Undertale, meaning that “your choices don’t matter”.
A Hero of Light
Deltarune plays like a cleaner Undertale. Armed with its simplistic, easy to grapple controls and mechanics, the player moves forward without too much trouble. How you play however, is what changes everything. Killing invites more EXP, and gaining more strength in turn, but the ending is (as one of the main characters, Raslei, says to you) “not likely to be pleasant” because of it. Sparing and pacifying enemies simply gives you cash without EXP, however grants you a far more pure ending.
Kris, Susie, Ralsei and the ever-present Lancer, are an eccentrically lovable cast from start to finish. Even though the game takes only around three hours to finish, it manages to nail friendships, character growth and arcs in some small manner. It doesn’t nothing dramatic, and the ‘saving the world’ cliché is used to its full advantage since the player expects it to be slightly corny. Even though some of the arcs can be seen coming from a mile away, they’re a joy to experience because of the game’s infectious writing style that manages to blend dark undertones with chirpy positivity.
Your Tale Isn’t Done
Deltarune seems wholeheartedly adorable, and equally terrifying, depending on how you play it. Nothing though, changes the hauntingly cryptic ending which this ‘first part’ reveals. Even if you played a true pacifist route, with no kills, the player must watch as Kris awakes at night after rolling out of bed. You watch as he wrenches his very SOUL out of his chest, then throws it in a nearby birdcage. Turning to the player camera overlooking the room, Kris pulls out a knife and the message “continued in part two” appears. It would seem like Deltarune, the world of Undertale and the productions of Toby Fox are far from over.
- More Undertale is always better
- Unique, engaging story that is fresh
- Classic mechanics have returned
- So many lore implications
- Unclear when the second episode will release
It’s unclear what comes next for Deltarune, but it’s highly likely that a fully-fledged episodic title will be created like this. Given the cult-like status that this world already possesses, it’s no wonder that articles have already begun appearing all across the internet trying to decrypt what all this means. Far too many questions have been raised from this three hour experience, and it leaves me, and others, wanting much more.