RPG Series Review: Earthbound/Undertale (GAME THEORY: I GAVE THE POPE PART 4)

xandermartin98
RPG Series Review: Earthbound/Undertale (PART 4)

"The game where you don't have to destroy anyone."

These words have been echoing loudly in the back of the gaming industry's mind for quite some time now, thanks largely in part to Undertale, quite possibly one of the best games (with one of if not THE most hilariously insane fandoms) of all time. So, with all of that being officially said and done, do those words really mean as much as people say they do? Well...again, yes and no.

I remember back when I was first hearing through the Internet's immeasurably long, eternally winding grapevine about Undertale's existence, back when I actually unironically thought that Papyrus (under the affectionate NICKNAME of Frisk) was the game's main protagonist...man, were those good times. I didn't have to worry about watching a single game literally take over half of the entire Internet, nor about developing the urge to go inside Alphys' brain and make out with it...hold on, just forget I said it, please, it's time for the review, everyone, nothing to see here, MOVE ALONG-

(We apologize for the inconvenience; we will return shortly.)

(Thank you dearly for your patience.) Anyway, here goes nothing....sigh...

STORY: If you're seriously reading this review right now, then you should hopefully already know this game's entire story by now, so I'm not going to mince words here; it's great. Simple, but great. There's a very good reason why UT fans will more-often-than-not make a point to tell you that 30 minutes in this game is worth at least 5 hours in a normal RPG story-wise. While the actual plot itself might be incredibly bare-bones and simplistic (and the game itself incredibly short), all of the characters have such wonderfully distinct (albeit archetypal) personalities and are so amazingly well-written and developed for the pitifully short amount of time that the game actually allows you to spend with them; trust me, by the time you're done with the Pacifist Run, it will PHYSICALLY hurt you to do Genocide. Seriously, I'm warning you, the sympathetic feelings that the game can brainwash you into- I mean, cause you to develop toward its delightfully cute and quirky cast can run quite a bit deeper than you might initially think, much like their personalities. All in all, it does a fantastic job of conveying the "underground monster society" theme and is easily, at the very LEAST, just as lovable, charming and heartfelt as Earthbound and Mother 3 before it.

SOUND: I...I honestly have no words. The soundtrack in this game is just too good. The...the leitmotif usage is just...just...

GRAPHICS: Well crud, looks like the game really doesn't look nearly as good as it sounds after all. Granted, the faux-8-bit visual style it goes for is, again, extremely charming and (mostly) fairly well-made, but it could've looked SO much better, ESPECIALLY considering how beautifully produced and orchestrated the actual music that players hear when playing the game sounds. Overall, however, it's not really that big of a problem, so now let's move on to the one thing that actually DOES rather irritate me about this game.

GAMEPLAY: Much like Mother 3, this is also an extremely mixed bag. On one hand, the bullet-hell (actually more like bullet-heaven due to how ludicrously easy it is for the most part) dodging system for avoiding enemy attacks is absolutely brilliant on a whole number of different levels, as is the FIGHT/SPARE moral choice system when viewed from a conceptual standpoint, and the entire Pacifist Run in general was simply nothing short of an absolute blast to play...well, at least, on my first playthrough, that is.

However, on the other hand, the game really doesn't hold up very well at all on repeat playthroughs, for a wide variety of different reasons. While the fact that the game actually remembers exactly what you've done on all of your previous runs (and in at least one case regarding Toriel's death and Flowey, even your previous SAVE-SCUMMINGS) certainly is astonishing indeed, the already way-too-easy combat becomes even easier once you've fully memorized all of the enemies' patterns, and the game's borderline insufferable moral pretentiousness begins to gradually reveal itself more and more prominently with each and every replay.

You see, the whole theme of the game is to beat it without killing even a single monster, but at the same time, LITERALLY ALL OF THE MONSTERS (besides Papyrus, Toriel and possibly Temmie) are ACTIVELY TRYING TO KILL YOU during combat; honestly, why WOULDN'T you want to fight back? That, and if you actually do decide to fight back, you quickly start to realize just how unspeakably dull and bare-bones the game's combat system really is when used for actually attacking the enemies and not simply dodging THEIR attacks. In fact, there's LITERALLY only one flipping option FOR attacking; the standard attack!

Best of all, leveling yourself up by killing monsters makes the game even more stupidly easy than it already is in Pacifist mode, and if you ever do decide to go full-on Genocide (which trust me, you WILL), literally every flipping boss monster besides Undyne The Undying and Sans (two of THE hardest video game bosses in recent memory, by the way, just in case you somehow haven't heard of utterly obscene difficulty spikes yet, even after playing the Earthbound series of all things) dies in LITERALLY one measly hit.

Overall, however, I still had a lot of fun with it (at least in Pacifist) and would strongly recommend it to anyone who is a self-proclaimed Earthbound fan and is willing to put up with a bit of good old-fashioned indie-walking-simulator pretentiousness.

AGAIN, OVERALL: Undertale is easily the greatest storytelling EXPERIENCE I think I've ever had with a game, taking the "funny, strange and heartrending" tagline from Mother 3 and running all the way around the entire ballpark several times over with it...

but as a game, I'm going to have to give it merely a 9/10, NOT a solid 10/10.

Sorry to burst your bubble, IGN, but seriously, NINE out of ten. That's as high as I'll go.

Comments

Let's not go forgetting Jim Sterling's bubble now - xandermartin98

Sadly, it turns out that Earthbound/Undertale is actually just a 7.8/10 series overall (still don't love the EB-UT portion of it any less despite that, however) - xandermartin98

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