One of the best feelings in the world is when you find a game that you don’t just play, you experience… That sounds like a corny motivational poster but if any sentence deserves to be stuck over a picture of a sunset it’s that. When you can’t wait to play the game again because you’re just excited to be back in that world, you feel like you are genuinely part of the story rather than someone controlling the main character, you don’t necessarily want to progress all the time because you are enjoying yourself so much, and the best thing (for me anyway) is when you know just from playing that this game was created with love. It’s almost more like reading a book than playing a game in a way: brilliant characters, wonderful plot, engaging dialogue, I just want to know what happens next!
What’s brought all this on? Well I’ve been playing Undertale and it’s incredible, I can’t believe I never played it before. As I write it is the day after I finished my first run of the game (those that follow me on Twitter may realise that I finished it a long while ago now but I wrote the post and then just had it as a draft for ages!) and I can’t stop thinking about it. The ending… Oh my god the ending… It was incredible. As a quick summary of the way I played it (for those of you that don’t know, it can be played in different ways) I killed a couple of things, only 2 or 3 though to see what it was like but then quickly realised I found it more fun to use the ‘Act’ option and try to diplomatically get out of a fight instead. I got a neutral ending and damn. It took me a while to get past Mettaton (who I love by the way and is one of my favourite characters) and even longer to get past Asgore but I finally managed it and then (won’t say too much in case of spoilers) the ending was INSANE and I loved it. I was then asked to restart the game and do a pacifist run where the goal is to not kill anyone.
The annoying thing is that in the past I had kind of heard little things about Undertale from here and there, then a couple of years ago I watched a play through of it by Steam Train. I didn’t know that I would like the game so much and watched them do both the pacifist and genocide run so I know what happens, which is a shame. I wasn’t going to play it at all because I thought knowing would spoil it but then it was on sale in the PS4 store and it’s pretty cheap anyway even without the sale, so I thought “why not?” and bought it. Immediately I realised that I’d actually forgotten quite a lot of what happened. I couldn’t remember the solutions to any puzzles and barely any of the dialogue so I was pleasantly surprised. Unfortunately I could still remember the majority of the plot but the gameplay is so fun that it doesn’t matter. I just want to talk about it with everyone and get everyone that’s not tried it yet to play it!
Another great thing about Undertale is that the difficulty is perfect for me. While I wouldn’t have said it’s stupidly difficult it’s got exactly the right amount of frustration to make it challenging but every time you play you make a tiny bit more progress which gives you hope until finally you break through and get that epic feeling of “I DID IT!!!!”. It took me 4 evenings to defeat Asgore, it was getting to the point where I was getting a little disheartened, nowhere near the point of abandoning it though. When I finally did it I was so happy, there were cheers and hugs, if there’d been a bottle of champagne in the fridge I’d have considered opening it. I don’t know if it’s just me but I don’t think I’ve played anything recently that has such a perfectly balanced difficulty like that.
The best thing is that it has genuinely been quite a long time since a game has made me feel this way, sure I’ve been a little obsessed or addicted to some recent games that I’ve been playing (Overwatch, Final Fantasy, …) but there’s always a tiny niggling thought in my mind that prevents me from truly loving them, and that’s the fact that they weren’t made because someone had a wonderful idea and wanted to share it with the world, it’s because a company wanted to make money and to do that they came up with an idea (albeit a bloody brilliant one in each of the above cases) to market to the world. Not to say they didn’t get passionate about making it or anything but the root of the game creation was money and that just sort of… I don’t know… Taints it ever so slightly I guess. I’m not sure how to describe it. Games like Undertale (Stardew Valley also springs to mind), you can just tell that the people creating them care a lot for them.
Can you think of any games like that? Have you played Undertale? If so, which path did you take? Did you find it difficult but in a good way too? If you haven’t played Undertale yet, play it!!!
Please enjoy a little slideshow of some more entertaining Undertale screenshots…