‘Deltarune’ follows ‘Undertale’ legacy of lighthearted RPG experience

Toby Fox/Courtesy

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Grade: 4.0/5.0

If you were one of the many die-hard fans of Toby Fox’s indie game “Undertale,” then “Deltarune” is definitely for you. If you weren’t, well, you should go play “Undertale” first, and then “Deltarune” will be for you.

In “Deltarune,” the player controls Kris, a human child who has been raised by kindly monsters in a town full of monsters. Kris is quiet, and is bullied at school by their classmate Suzie. After their teacher makes the two get more chalk from the storage closet, however, both fall into another world — the world of the Darkeners. Kris and Suzie are then told that they are part of a prophecy that said two Lighteners, presumably Kris and Suzie, will fall into the Darkeners’ world and will re-establish the connection between Lighteners and Darkeners, with the help of a Darkener prince, Ralsei. Throughout the game, Kris follows Ralsei to the Darkeners’ king’s castle, all the while trying to convince Suzie that being the good guy is a good idea.

Despite being introduced first to Kris and despite Kris being the main playable character, it seems that the actual protagonist of this first chapter is Suzie (Yes, I said chapter. Stay tuned.) Suzie gets an actual character arc and has a drastic character shift during the story, going from a bully who only values personal gain to someone who understands the meaning of friendship and why being kind to those who are kind to you is important in maintaining friendships. Her arc is given a lot of attention and feels very natural, despite the game being relatively short.

While “Undertale” was heavily based on the player’s choices — notably the player’s choice to fight or to spare — “Deltarune” emphasizes that the player has no lasting choices in this world. Suzie gives Kris a few choices during the game, all of which she cuts off before giving the player time to choose. There are no alternative endings in “Deltarune,” as there are in “Undertale.” Playing the game a different way will produce the same ending, so the gameplay mechanics lack any moral themes, which was one of the most unique features in “Undertale.”

The visuals are wonderfully pleasant and cute, conveying the story in a retro, pixelated style that is both basic and extraordinary. Again, Fox delivers on the clever wordplay and visual puns, adding more cute jokes to his ever-expanding joke bag, from having Kris eat moss to having a laughably inept puzzle creator you cannot help but enjoy. The clever dialogue, slew of jokes and simple but challenging puzzles combine into a pleasant RPG experience.

“Deltarune” also introduces a swathe of lovable characters in the same way that “Undertale” did — Lancer and Ralsei are both relatable and charismatic in their own ways. It’s hard to not fall in love with them both, despite Lancer calling Kris and Ralsei names and belittling their heroic antics along the way. In the same way that Papyrus or Alphys were awkward enough to relate to the player in “Undertale,” Lancer is relatable in the sense that he wants to befriend Suzie — the player finds out about Lancer’s lonely upbringing and desire for a companion at the same time that Suzie does. Thus, the player falls in love with Lancer just as quickly as she does.

It’s just as easy as it is to love the characters of “Deltarune” as it is to love the old cast of “Undertale.” In fact, at the end of the game, the player can walk around the town as Kris, talking with monsters who all made appearances in the original “Undertale” game. Toriel, who has been lovingly named “goat mom” by the fandom, is now in this game your literal mother. Undyne is a police woman, and Alphys is your science teacher. King Asgore is now just Asgore, your father, who runs a floral shop called “Flower King.” The concluding walk around town acknowledges that this game is not part of the “Undertale” canon, but takes place in a different universe where instead of humans and monsters being the main dichotomy, it’s Lighteners and Darkeners.

Upon completing “Deltarune,” you get a message that reads “end of chapter 1,” indicating that the story is nowhere near completion. It’s impossible to judge what “Deltarune” will be like once the full game is released, but as of now, the only way to understand every hidden detail and fun fact about “Deltarune” is to start with “Undertale.”

Contact Sakura Cannestra at [email protected].