Chill Box is where we relax and talk about video games and film from the distant past. There's a lot of cool stuff out there the younger generation have yet to experience or even heard about.Â
There are many video games with the word "heart" in them.
Valiant Hearts (a puzzle game set in World War I) is one. Kingdom Hearts (the leader is this specific name race which includes furries and cosplayers as its main cast) is another. Hearthstone (a card game involving severely bearded men) is a stretch but I'll count it as well.
What the world is severely lacking though, are video games with heart. Caught up in the ever-increasing popularity of the industry, developers would much rather cash-in on pre-existing ideas than make something entirely unique but also quite risky.
Undertale, apart from the icon within its "R", does not have a "heart" in its title. It does not have the best graphics or voice acting at all. In fact, much of the game feels very retro: starring a protagonist with an expression of an uninterested rock. What it is though is a very, very good game with more heart in it than a transplant center.
Released for the PC in 2015, Undertale tells a simple story of a human who falls into a world of monsters and must find their way out. How you escape though, is entirely up to you. Driven purely by player choice, the repercussions of your decisions are subtle at first but by the end of the game, everything you have done will surely come full-circle.
But I'm getting ahead of myself; this is a fun game!
Written, composed, programmed, and mostly drawn by the hands of Toby Fox, Undertale is unique and focused in every sense of the two words. An RPG at heart, the game aims on delivering a tight narrative that is both ridiculously funny and emotionally stirring. It would be criminal to say anything about it but keep in mind that this is a game that made me genuinely cry and laugh, sometimes at the same time.
Never one for tedium or repetition, each aspect of the game is simple and easy to remember but is also the reason why it has more variety than most games could shake a side quest at. You don't have to grind or backtrack in this game and if you do, you are rewarded not with useless items or money (though money is always nice) but with more backstory on the world and characters that occupy it.
Instead of going for a plethora of characters and weird names like other big RPGs do, Undertale settles for a small cast of characters and simple terms that never feel overwhelming. Monsters, humans, done. It is a game that relies more on depth rather than breadth and you just can't fault a game that makes every encounter and location feel completely different from the last.
This is even evident in the game's battle system.
What may look like a simple battle HUD actually contains more options depending on who or what you may be facing at the moment. You may be tempted to traditionally murder your adversary the old-fashioned way but that would be a mistake. There are a lot of ways to get over obstacles and figuring out how to deal with each unique monster is a joy in and of itself.
You may have noticed that I haven't really gone too in-depth about the game itself: the characters, humour, or the experience it gives you.
It's because I can't.
Undertale is one of those games wherein should I attempt to elaborate on it, I would no doubt miss out on or spoil something that contributes to what makes it wholly unique. It is a game that is best explained simply by playing it and nothing more.
It delves into topics such as friendship, love, and the reason to keep on fighting, all of which are related to one specific thing: the heart. It's ironic that one of the funniest games I have ever played is also one of the saddest: seeped with meaning and reflection on such a base level that even my own murderous intentions were put to question.Â
Undertale is subtle. With an independent developer, minimalist art style, GREAT SOUNDTRACK, and bullet hell combat system, it easily did what a lot of game studios could not: it innovated by bringing things back to basics.
This is a game that subverts people's expectations of video games by turning them on their heads; catching you off-guard like that lamp post that magically appeared in front of you while you were playing PokÃ©mon Go.
You could argue that the game has its faults. It isn't that long of a game (you could finish one playthrough in about six hours), its battle system can get a bit crazy and erratic at times, and there are times where you would have to look up just how to bypass certain bosses without killing them.
But these are minor nitpicks in a game that does so much with so little. Years from now when I have replaced my top games with newer entries, I can be certain that Undertale will hold not just a spot but be on the top of that list, lording it over every other game as they wonder how to topple it off its mantle.
The short of it is this: if you are a human being with any sort emotion still within you, play Undertale. You owe it to yourself and your heart.