Deltarune is not Undertale: A review on Toby Fox’s most recent game

After a long wait, Deltarunes chapter 2 is finally out. Nows the time to ask the question - does it live up to Undertales reputation?

Art courtesy Deltarune.

After a long wait, Deltarune’s chapter 2 is finally out. Now’s the time to ask the question – does it live up to Undertale’s reputation?

{{Disclaimer: Minimal spoilers for DELTARUNE chapters one and two, but possibly major spoilers for UNDERTALE ahead.}}

It’s a beautiful day outside; birds are singing, flowers are blooming – on days like this, kids like you.. should be playing chapter 2 of Deltarune.

With its firm grasp on internet culture that started from its release in 2015 lasting to this day, Undertale has been a videogame anomaly due to its amazing storyline, characters, gameplay mechanics, soundtrack, iconic Easter eggs – and most baffling, the fact that the majority of the game was designed and created by Toby Fox alone. On the other hand, Deltarune, another project made by Fox that was initially released in October of 2018, lacks an equally huge audience (at least, in comparison to that of Undertale’s) while keeping every charming aspect of its predecessor and even introducing a beautiful story line of its own. Deltarune is a spectacular game that gives Undertale fans the nostalgia of playing their favorite game for the first time while introducing a brand new story and characters to the table. And now, we have the continuation to the game – chapter two of Deltarune is now out.

Art courtesy Deltarune.

Despite being an anagram for Undertale and featuring many of the characters that Undertale fans have grown to cherish (Or, despise. Not to name names, but Burgerpants.), Deltarune does not follow the same universe as Undertale. At least, not the one we’ve already been Frisking around in (See what I did there?). While the connection between the two games is still a bit blurry despite the ample room for theorizing, we’ll have to await future chapters to see how these games connect. For now, we’re introduced to returning characters, none of which allude to Undertale’s main character’s past actions and instead treat this game’s main character as a neighbor they’ve known since childhood.

Initially, I wasn’t too excited to play this game. I was glad it was free as I was planning on deleting it whenever it got uninteresting for my short attention span, but once I was thrown into the universe, I was immersed. The characters I loved were all here once more – Undyne, Alphys, even Sans – as well as my character’s classmates whom, despite only recently meeting, I’d become incredibly attached to.

As my computer slowly processed Deltarune’s download (not because of any sort of massive files, the file size and memory this game requires is incredibly reasonable, my specs just haven’t changed since the 1980’s.), I wondered if this would live up to my expectations. Undertale was a truly spectacular game, so I doubted that comparing the two just because they shared the same creator was fair. Yet, as I traversed the intricate universe and plotline, meeting characters I quickly grew to love, this game quickly became one to rival the accolade that Undertale had.

Art courtesy Deltarune.

I played most of chapter two while huddled in front of my computer with the only light in the 2 AM darkness I was shrouded in being Deltarune. I was tired due to the time, frustrated because I kept running into random monsters while I just wanted to progress in the story, and even more tired because I couldn’t get the smug look of Burgerpants out of my mind. But, there was something so encapsulating about Deltarune, something that prevented me from retaining whatever sleep schedule I had the night before. I don’t regret staying up to play Deltarune, in fact, I think my partially delirious mood at the time made me experience the emotions within the story at a whole different level, but I do regret not poking around as much as I should have. Though I later went back and replayed the game for my own enjoyment, I missed a noticeable amount of character story on my first run. Returning to the game and taking a deep-dive into each of these character’s intricate backstories was arguably as interesting as it was following the story of Deltarune, Toby Fox always having such amazingly unique character concepts and histories. One of the currently most popular Deltarune characters, Spamton, has this description on the Deltarune Wiki:

“Spamton appears as a diminutive robotic ventriloquist’s dummy that wears yellow and pink glasses that sometimes change colors and a long-sleeved black V-neck shirt, with black hair that is slicked back, appearing similar to a pompadour.”

…Yeah.

Toby Fox constantly challenges the boundaries between having an actually interesting and important character and having a character who can crack a few jokes and then leap off screen, never to be seen again (Burgerpants).

Art courtesy Deltarune.

Through all of the heavily thought out characters, my favorite has to be Queen. Avoiding as many spoilers as possible, she’s an iconically hilarious character with many screenshot-able moments. Despite being the villain of the story, Fox manages to balance her humorous nature with, well, evil intent. Queen’s constantly shifting attitude toward the main character(s) is a recurring joke amongst her lines – whether she’s referring to Kris as a peon or calling double trucies with him, she’s constantly progressing her villainous plot in a way that makes it enjoyable to take part in.

 

While there are no spoken lines in Deltarune nor Undertale (Unless you’re counting the ‘NOW’S YOUR CHANCE TO BE A BIG SH-SH-SH-SH-SHOT!’ in Spamton’s absolute masterpiece of a theme), Fox has always managed to give his characters a unique voice through their distinctive text sounds and their aforementioned “typing styles”. In Deltarune, however, these idiosyncratic “voices” that Fox creates is amplified by the immensely more expressive sprites each character has. Fox’s continued use of creating unique ways for characters to deliver dialogue adds a new sense of immersion.
E.g. Sans from Undertale speaking like this:

Art courtesy Undertale.

while Queen speaks like this:

Potassium. (Art courtesy Deltarune.)

 

The art of Deltarune is reflective of the difference in time from which Undertale was released and Deltarune was released. The art has improved massively and clearly much more time and effort was put into it, with the characters having a significantly larger library of animations to go through. It makes the game seem so much more lively. Fox also continues to implement the symbolism of colors in Deltarune’s art, though his color choices have changed greatly from that of Undertale and makes walking through pathways as animated fireworks of the cast’s heads soar by all the more lively.

On top of the visual media, Deltarune’s chapter two adds brand new selections to the game’s already beautiful original soundtrack. My personal favorites are Queen, A CYBER’S WORLD?, NOW’S YOUR CHANCE TO BE A, Acid Tunnel of Love, Attack of the Killer Queen, and many others, all available on Spotify or any music platforms. While I typically steer away from 8-bit sounding music, there’s a certain charm to Toby Fox’s style that makes these songs irresistable.

Art courtest Deltarune.

As this is a game, we of course need to critique its gameplay. I, personally, do not prefer Deltarune’s style over Undertale’s. While I find the TP mechanic to be interesting, having each character be able to perform a seperate action became rather busy while fighting basic mobs, like the onslaught of Maus I encountered in my journey. While Deltarune is much more giving in terms of its money, I still found it difficult to get a lot of genuinely good weapons and armor for my characters, and they were frequently knocked down. The action of dodging the opponent’s attacks, however, is just as fun as Undertale, if not more fun due to the NPCs having a diverse range of attacks. The gameplay is definitely enjoyable, however I find that this game truly shines in its storytelling and storybuilding department.

Overall, Deltarune is a stunning game that, while upon appearance seems like a copy of Undertale, is an amazingly unique and beautiful twist on the universe we’ve grown to know. I highly reccommend you to play this game, especially if you were a fan of Undertale.