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Undertale’s clever understanding of the RPG mindset and fantastic writing make it an unforgettable experience unique to games

Undertale is now available for Nintendo Switch. The game is identical visually and content-wise, except for some minor tweaks over the 2017 PlayStation 4 release (and the original 2015 Windows/OSX version). Most notably, the Switch version adds a new miniboss encounter not found in the previous versions. Our original review from August 15, 2017 follows.

I finished my first playthrough of download Undertale free in stunned silence. My journey had begun with dumb puns and silly puzzles, but the end affected me in a way I never expected. That’s kind of Undertale’s specialty — playing with our expectations of what an RPG should be, subverting them, and using them to drive a story unique to what games can do. Its strong writing, integration of gameplay with storytelling, and acute understanding of its audience all build to something that surprises at every turn.

As a lone human fallen into an underground world that serves as a prison for monsters, I had my journey laid out for me, as most RPG protagonists do. For my first playthrough I took a pacifist approach, being as kind and merciful as possible as I searched for a way back to the surface. But I made a mistake: I accidentally killed a monster in the beginning. So I restarted without saving, as I would in any other game when I needed a do-over. Except… things were different this time. Dialogue had changed to reflect that I’d seen her die. Then Flowey, Undertale’s chaotic evil, fourth wall-breaking flower, tore into me for having the gall to abuse the power of the save state.

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