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.
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.