Three years ago, Undertale was the game that was on the tip of everyone’s tongue. It was this critical indie darling that came out of nowhere, and for the longest time, it was all anyone could ever talk about. In fact, if you didn’t play Undertale, fans would probably look at you incredulously, as if they could hardly believe that there was anyone on this great, green Earth who could go on living without playing Undertale.
You haven’t played Undertale? Why not? But you should. You have to play Undertale. Undertale, Undertale, Undertale. The hype surrounding the game got a little obnoxious after a while, but its impact was undeniable.
Three years later, creator Toby Fox has somehow replicated that 2015 magic with the release of a new game, or at least the first act of a new game, called Deltarune. Which is also an anagram of Undertale.
After getting through the initial survey-style questions and answers segment, Deltarune’s charm and appeal become instantly recognizable to fans of the game. The game’s vibrant color palette pops with style, and despite the simplistic look and nature of the graphical style, it creates a feeling of homeliness and warmth that was prevalent in Undertale’s best parts.
From a gameplay perspective, Deltarune has evolved as well. Whereas Undertale only put you in control of your playable character, Deltarune features a full party, with characters that you can outfit and equip with different gear. The friendly mage Ralsei (guess what that’s an anagram of) has access to healing spells, while the monster horse thing Susie is your bruiser character who crushes everything with an axe.
When enemies attack, you’ll still have to go through a bullet hell mini-game in which you move a small red heart around to avoid incoming obstacles. Depending on the enemy type, their attacks will vary in interesting ways, and keep you on your toes. For the most part, I like this evolution of Undertale’s basic combat system. It worked well in the original game, but whether you were on a Pacifist or Genocide run, most battles played out the same way. You’d either keep dodging attacks till you could figure out how to spare an enemy, or just keep mashing the attack function.
In Deltarune, the Pacifist method remains largely unchanged, but enemy puzzles are made more interesting by the fact that you have to make use of your party members to figure out how to spare them.
As the first act of what seems to be a sequel to Undertale, Deltarune is long. You’ll take control of a new character named Kris, as you and schoolmate Susie are magically transported to the Dark World, where the mage Ralsei tells you that you must overthrow the evil king in order to restore balance to the world. That entire arc stretches over the course of about two hours, delivering a complete story with closure at the end. Sort of.
Just like in Undertale, Deltarune’s charm lies in its simple and earnest nature. The bad guys and enemies have their quirks, and you quickly find out that most of them don’t really want to fight you at all. Ralsei is naive, and when he’s teaching you the basics of sparing enemies, you can give him a hug instead. He’ll blush and say he doesn’t think that’s what you’re supposed to be doing, but he’ll sheepishly accept it anyway.
And on top of all that, Toby Fox’s wit continues to show in the game’s humorous writing. Undertale was a feel-good game that resonated with players because the game itself always seemed to know what the player would do, or try to do, and respond appropriately. Deltarune continues that trend, and there are fourth wall-breaking moments where it feels like the game is talking directly to you, making snarky comments about what you should or shouldn’t be doing at the moment.
In all honesty, it’s hard to talk about Deltarune without getting dangerously close to spoiler territory, but from what I’ve seen so far, it’s looking like the next epic chapter to the magical Undertale story that captured so many hearts back in 2015. It’s also so very mysterious, particularly when you consider all the secrets and Easter eggs fans have dug up from the original game long after its release. To this day, there are still so many unanswered questions about Undertale, and with the release of Deltarune and a potential sequel, there’s a lot here for fans to be excited about.
It’s also hard to say what kind of game this Undertale sequel would be. Completion of Deltarune seems to suggest that it might be episodic in nature, but like with anything Undertale-related, it might not be so straightforward either. Regardless of what it turns out to be, Deltarune is shaping up to be an intriguing and worthy successor to Undertale. Whether it’ll take the indie world by storm yet again remains to be seen, but for now, fans can keep their hopes and dreams alive.