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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Undertale is a downloadable role-playing game designed to be an entree into the genre. Cleverly, it emphasizes understanding that the old trappings of violence and beating up enemies without real cause can be totally ignored or considered a last resort. You have no cause to hurt anyone, and when you realize that as you get deeper into the game, it drastically changes the way you approach the environment and even listen to the characters. It's a way of rethinking the familiar, then pondering the other possibilities.
- Parents say
- Kids say
Hilarious Dialogue, Endearing and Memorable Characters, and a Brilliant Message Make this Indie Fantastic
What's it about?
UNDERTALE is set after a war between mankind and a race of creatures known only as "monsters." The humans emerge victorious and seal the monsters away behind a magic barrier in an underground realm. You play as a young human child who awakens there, behind the seal, and subsequently tries to escape. However, your life isn't in constant danger. The monsters you run across aren't automatically enemies. They don't all act offensively or treat you as prey. They are no less civilized than the humans, and in fact are just as abundant in personalities and quirks. As you try to make your way back out to where you "belong," it's up to you to decide how to treat everyone, and that includes whether to attack.
Is it any good?
This incredibly goofy game cheerily teases persistent video-game tropes that typically go unquestioned -- such as wanton violence -- and is certainly worth trying, even if you think you "hate" video games. Undertale's whimsical underpinnings will shine brighter, and you'll catch its many references or tongue-in-cheek nods to other video games if you're a gamer, but its parody and satirical elements don't need to be understood to be appreciated. On the surface it seems to be another standard turn-based role-playing game wherein you embark on an epic quest, but it's really a game about making friends with a wide variety of strange characters (such as a skeleton obsessed with spaghetti or a ghost who makes music on its computer and races snails) and cooperating to get out alive.
Yes, if you want, you can slay everything in battle. But that's the easy way out, and doing so eliminates several possibilities in the story that you wouldn't be aware of otherwise. What's more, it's actually more challenging and intriguing to go down that path: There's one "boss" battle where you must repeatedly plead for your own life, dodge spears, and then run away, only to repeat this process several times before your oppressor runs out of breath and you can go get him a glass of water and make amends. It's strange but earnest, and its abundant charm is what makes Undertale well worth checking out.
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.