Undertale’s Demo Lets You Flirt With A Frog

By Adam Smith on June 18th, 2013 at 8:00 pm.

I had been playing Undertale’s free demo for two minutes when the memory of Space Funeral popped into my mind like a drunken Jack in the Box. Ten minutes later, I was ready to quit and around half an hour after that I’d completed the demo, which is a complete short story, and was glad that I’d persisted. It’s a weird adventure in the style of a JRPG, with random encounters, a silent protagonist, single room puzzles and turn-based combat. Stick with the demo through the alternately bizarre and bland opening minutes, and there’s a tiny world of wonder. If you don’t play until the depressed ghost makes an appearance, you have seen nothing.

The weirdness of the characters and narratives is more directly satirical, and the suffocatingly parental character makes the entire game seem a parody of controlling tutorials. Indeed, it’s possible to refer to the ‘tutorial’ as ‘mother’, which pleases and puzzles the blasted thing. Reading the entire game as a metaphor about design makes the ending a more complex development and the game would be worth a look even if that’s all there was to it. The actual game side is clever as well though, particularly the incorporation of miniature bullet hell shooters into the combat system, and the ability to read body language and actions in order to avoid violent solutions.

Also worth checking out is this conversation involving Sean Hogan, designer of the lovely Anodyne, and Undertale’s creator, Toby Fox.

I’m going to be honest though – I’m not actually sure if you can flirt with a frog. You can flirt with a sort of slimy fungal lump, that’s for sure, but I think I just flattered the frogs.

, .

5 Comments »

  1. Totally heterosexual says:

    Pretty damn cool.

    Supposedly the full game is going to be really long.

  2. The Random One says:

    Ooooo. This game pushes all my buttons, then orders a few more buttons installed, then pushes them. I’ll try the demo as soon as I’m able.

  3. Firewill says:

    Game sounds great, I love bizarre settings! and I have to admit I thought the title said “flirt with fog” which sounded right up my alley!

  4. Glitchyroach says:

    Ever since I found this game I have obsessed with the idea of a full version. My only fear is that something goes wrong, and it is never released.

    I’ll be honest, I am not usually all that interested in RPGs of this sort, but there is definitely something amazing about this particular one, the story has already captured my attention, the different endings you can get are intriguing, and even the idea that you can spare enemies, as well as the reason as to why you would even WANT to, are all unique aspects that I think a lot of people seem to miss.

    Overall I find this game rather touching, even if Toriel is supposed to be a satirical stab at the tropes many games seem to follow, they do it in such a way that gives her amazing characterization, she captures the worried mother personality extremely well. I sincerely hope this game gets the attention of the public, because in my own opinion, it is simply amazing.

  5. Scone says:

    Played it awhile ago, but still don’t have the heart to delete the folder. It’s a lovely game full of lovely ideas. The pacifist options are so intuitive that often just looking at the enemy sprites and the name of the attacks they do is enough to figure out what needs to be done, escape starts at 50% success and increases by 10% every turn, the object environment text is a mix of atmospheric and adorable (“Every time this old tree grows any leaves, they fall right off” / “Ah, the cactus. Truly the most tsundere of plants”), random enemies will stop spawning after a certain number of victories, the bgm changes if you turn your bedroom lamp off and 100% of spider bake sale profits go to real spiders.

    Two unique bullet patterns for each enemy was a good idea too, and the final boss fight is one of the better fusions of mechanics and storytelling I’ve seen. It’s a jrpg-style game with consideration for the player. Even when ideas don’t quite work, like the unvarying attack slider or the unsatisfying lever puzzles, it’s alright because the game’s built up enough trust that I know there’ll be something new and clever next room over. First time in awhile I’ve played a rpg without feeling like the game was trying to trickle out /just/ enough content to keep me going. Bad mechanics feel like human mistakes instead of corporate it-must-be-at-least-100-hours weirdness. For a one hour demo otherwise stuffed with good points, that’s enough.

    Head’s up there’s multiple endings and they, uh, stack. If you’ve got the ending that leads to Flowery being on the right side of your intro screen, go replay that last fight. Soundtrack’s up on bandcamp too, if anyone’s wanting a listen.