Deltarune and a love letter to Undertale’s world of kindness
author: marty grande-sherbert | op-ed editor
gaming is glorious / Undertale
Don’t miss this one
Up until the last few hours of Halloween this year, I thought it was going to be a pretty crummy night. I was too busy all week to go to a party, so I was left alone at home with barely any kids to hand out candy to. Then, suddenly, it happened. Toby Fox released Deltarune, and all at once that night became one of the best Halloweens I’ve had in a while.
Deltarune is a newly-made game meant to be played after Undertale, and if you haven’t played Undertale, I highly recommend that you do. If you’re tired of hearing about Undertale and can’t believe I’m really publishing an article about it, I can understand the sentiment. The popularity has grown to a level that Toby himself admits he never could have anticipated, and it’s led to a lot of the characters, jokes, and points of the story feeling overdone especially from an outside perspective.
Putting the impact of fandom aside, though, I just can’t stress enough how much the game deserved a warm reception. The replay value is insane, the story is multi-layered and rich, the gameplay runs from being silly and creative to famously difficult depending on how you play, and if the fandom shows us anything it’s that it had the power to really generate a lot of excitement.
But my favourite thing about Undertale, and the thing that made my night so wonderful when I saw Deltarune released, is the genuine warmth and friendliness that seems to radiate from every pixel in Toby’s games. The cute faces of the enemies who don’t have to be enemies at all if you don’t fight them, the endearing dialogue of the NPCs, and your mysterious player character whose gender, race, and personality all seem to be up to interpretation – none of it feels ironic or cynical. You can tell that the game really does want to make you smile and grow attached, and you do – to the point that Undertale’s overarching story basically hinges on your love for the game world and the people in it. I have cried playing the original game more than once and I have watched people cry playing it more than once – I have also seen a great deal of giggling, smiling, and adoration toward particular favourite characters.
The sheer charm of it all is heartwarming, which is why it seemed totally characteristic for Toby Fox to release his “sequel” (but not quite a sequel) totally unannounced and totally for free. You need to understand that he and the few other artists and musicians who worked on Deltarune did so for three years, and Toby knew what the game was going to look like since the original Undertale’s release. I can’t imagine what it’s like to code a game this huge with such a small team, but it’s clear that Toby has a commitment to the story he wants to tell.
It was a hugely exciting revelation to realize that Undertale had a continuation in Deltarune, and that it was going to have more than one chapter (only the first chapter was released on Halloween). The emotional journey that I went on in the first game was one I got to take again, and one I’m going to take for a third time, yet. No matter what the wait, I experienced all the magic of the world again and remembered Undertale’s key message – that we should all want to be kind, and that being kind matters – at a time when I needed to hear it.
A lot of unkind things have happened in the world lately. I think a lot of the games out there are also pretty focused on competition, violence, and distrust – things that aren’t bad in themselves and that can be fun, but not things we should probably take into life with us. Undertale and its new companion, Deltarune, are incredibly refreshing in that they encourage you to trust, or to try to trust more than usual, and to take life a little less seriously.
Deltarune is free for PC and Mac, and Undertale goes for about $10 on Steam – there are also a LOT of playthroughs of it on YouTube, if you can’t buy it or play it right now. If you have a few hours to unwind, even if you know the story already, I recommend you take a step back and take a stroll through the Underground again to visit new or old friends. It might just turn your day, or your outlook on life, around.