As much as I adore the game, I don’t want a sequel to Undertale. It’s not that I think that developer Toby Fox wouldn’t do a decent job of it, but it’s a self-contained story that wraps up in a satisfying way. Any attempts to extrapolate on it would feel cheap and lessen the impact.
Luckily, for his follow-up game, Toby Fox isn’t going that route and is instead doing something similar yet wholly new with Deltarune: Chapter 1. It’s something that you can certainly tell is adjacent to Undertale, but doesn’t rely on its presence. It certainly winks and nods at the player who has experienced Undertale, and it states at the beginning that you should probably play that game first, but I don’t see what someone would miss out on aside from those winks and nods.
The winks and nods are pretty great, though.
Deltarune doesn’t exist in the same universe or continuity as Undertale, but it borrows heavily from it. At the beginning of the game (after it chastises you for trying to create a character for some reason), you awake as a person of ambiguous gender named Kris and are whisked away to school by your mother Toriel. The town you live in is populated by familiar faces from Undertale, but it’s obvious their characters have simply been transplanted to a new narrative with no connection to their alternate universe selves.
Shortly after arriving at school, you and the school bully, Susie, are whisked away to a dark universe. They’re tasked with saving it by Ralsei, the third member of the principal
A PLATFORM FOR THE CHARACTERS
The premise sucks, but that’s only because it’s meant to simply serve as a platform for the characters and the dialogue. That’s sort of a shame since Undertale had the best of both worlds, but Deltarune has one major difference in its approach: you travel with a party.
The most compelling part of Undertale was its willingness to let you simply befriend everyone you met, regardless of how hostile they are initially, rather than murder them as you would in any other RPG. Deltarune continues this, but you only speak for yourself. While
The combat itself is expanded upon. While Undertale had you engage in battle by your lonesome, here you have up to two other party members that you need to manage. This adds a layer of strategy as you choose who takes action and who hangs back and supports the party. Alongside it is the traditional Undertale system of avoiding conflict by navigating a heart through various hazards, which surprisingly never gets old.
Much like Undertale before it, Deltarune is a wonderfully written, optimistic, and lighthearted game. The dialogue pops with witty puns, clever jokes, and heartfelt intimacy. The characters each have a wonderfully established arc that they’re guided through to the satisfying end. It has a lot of the same qualities as Undertale before it.
Unfortunately, there’s no way to avoid comparison with Undertale because it’s so obviously cut from the same cloth. The sound, the music, and, most starkly, the graphical style, are all identical to Undertale.
So, with that in mind, how does it compare?
Not well. It’s still pretty great, though.
Don’t get me wrong, I like Deltarune, but Undertale is a monolith in my mind. It’s a warm, funny getaway with fun characters, a unique world, and a rocking soundtrack. Deltarune has those, but not at the same level. It has fun characters, but the focus is jammed so close to the main cast, that you never really get to meet anyone truly memorable and unique. The world is… Actually kind of crap. It’s a bunch of corridors and doesn’t feel like a cohesive, living place. It’s also really ugly, lacking in detail and featuring way too much blank space. It lacks the warm havens that punctuated Undertale, and instead railroads you from fight to fight without really letting you off the rails.
No complaints about the music, though, but I didn’t find anything as memorable as I did in Undertale.
It’s hard to complain. Deltarune: Chapter 1 is free, after all, and it’s pretty impressive because of that. It’s a 6
On the other hand, it’s still a pretty great game in its own right. If you’re a fan of Undertale, or even if you aren’t and just want a nice and positive game to curl up with, you owe it to yourself to check it out. After all, you’ve got nothing to lose except an afternoon.
This review was conducted on a Nintendo Switch using a digital copy of the game. It was free, which the author appreciates.