Deltarune Chapter One: Love and friendship win everyone over
Undertale was a great game; actually it was one of the best games I have ever played. A proud Hall of Fame entry that gave me hours of fun with some of the best characters in recent memory, a truly outstanding game that everyone should play.
Does Deltarune (not Undertale I swear), the official sequel to Toby Fox’s grand entrance into the public consensus hold up to its predecessor’s wondrous legacy?
Deltarune chapter one has you playing as a teenage mute named Kris who goes off to another day of seemingly mundane school. However after a small disaster strikes when all the chalk is eaten by the school bully (a purple monster named Susan) both Kris and Susan are sent to the school closet to find more; in a manner very similar to the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Alice in Wonderland the two fall into a strange and fantastical land; and as a result have to save the world in order to get home-all the while learning the importance of love and friendship. The story, much like Undertale appears very simple at first glance. Akin to a fable or fairy tale; where it really shines is in the story and character interactions, for what appears something of a stable for Toby Fox is making living breathable worlds that are filled with characters that at first seem childishly basic but become more three dimensional as the game progresses. To my mind the fable and/or fairy tale comparison rings rather true for Toby Fox’s work as they have a timeless quality is endlessly relatable. The characters and messages are seemingly simple, something that would be out of place in a Saturday morning cartoon but there is an underlying maturity within the characters and their actions that make the game insidiously intelligent.
That is not to say there are no twists or that the humour value is nonexistent. The game again; very much like its predecessor takes some interesting turns that I personally never saw coming. The ending in particular has really stuck with me. It took me by surprise and left me wanting more without feeling cheap, Deltarune is brimming with superb humour that made me laugh many times during its two hour run time. The game is bloody hilarious and I love it. One might say that because Deltarune hits the same thematic and storytelling elements of its predecessor means that the game does not explore ideas or advance the game in any way. At least in terms of story you are right in this regard, Deltarune’s themes and story devices are very similar to Undertale but it uses these same themes etc as a platform to explore bullying and parental relationships in surprisingly powerful and mature ways. I would go out on a limb and suggest that Toby Fox’s games are more mature then most 18+ AAA games out there because he does not use cheap shock tactics or create thin characters for the sake of diversity. He makes interesting characters that happen to be X and Y while making them human.
The gameplay has been updated greatly since the last game, it incorporates elements of turn based party combat much like the early Final Fantasy games or Earthbound (Where Toby Fox got most of his inspiration for Undertale and this game from). You get a max of three allies for the majority of the game, on your turn you can chose to attack, befriend or defend yourself from incoming. Your acts can involve other members of your party to powerful effect. Be it attacking them or befriending them. Undertale staples bullet hell and enemy befriending are still present and are as good as the previous time. It should be worth noting that the bullet hell parts have been altered slightly, if you keep your heart close to the projectiles you will gain TP points, (think of it as party mana). I like it adds a risk and reward element to the bullet hell as you need TP for spells but you have to avoid getting hit as the damage ramps up quickly. You can also gain TP by having a party member to defend. However you cannot do anything for that turn which can either lead to you having to risk losing a team mate in order to befriend whatever you are fighting or risk defending that turn to cast a heal later next turn.
Deltarune is not a hard game to be honest, unlike Undertale I did not die once in my entire playthrough. Sometimes you have no other choice but to defend if you are planning to befriend everyone (that was how I played, might be different if you decide to do the opposite) which made the ending boss fight rather easy as I got so much TP I did not know what to do with it. However that is not to say the game is not fun, it is bloody fun, an explosive barrel of fun. It is not the most important thing to mention but it is worth noting that majority of the game takes place in the underground land which is linear while the upper world (the town where Kris and friends live) is open world. It creates a wonderful contrast between the two worlds that makes both memorable.
The graphics and art style are pretty much the same to Undertale, easy on the eyes yet clean and catching with clever use of colours and shapes. The characters designs are memorable and expressive considering the limited animation. It has a wonderful crayon aesthetic that I suspect will age very well. There is nothing wrong with this game regarding this.
The game however has some rather annoying issues, namely that it crashed once out of nowhere and the game kept running in the background, even after it being closed slowing down my PC badly. It was invasive and temporarily soured my experience with the game.
However these did not really hold the game back long term. All my complaints just melt away whenever I play it longer than a few minutes. It is such a wholesome game that my gripes just fade away. I can’t help but adore this game. Deltarune has some flaws that can become problems if left unchecked, Toby Fox really should have gotten someone who knew what they were doing when it came to gathering data to prevent build up of invasive background programs. But the game is fucking amazing.
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