Deltarune is delightful

Deltarune is delightful

I’m a few weeks late to this particular craze, but after staying up until 2:00 a.m. finally finishing the first chapter of Deltarune I have an unbridled desire to gush about everything.

That’s probably going to involve a number of spoilers for an experience that I truly believe everyone should have for themselves. Because of that I’ll aim to be as vague as possible, but even so you might not want to read this quite yet if you haven’t played the game yourself.

Here’s what I can offer as a general teaser introduction.

Deltarune is the follow-up to indie game developer and chip tune musical genius Tobyfox‘s now-famed 2015 RPG Undertale — That one where nobody has to die. It’s available on just about every gaming platform imaginable, so if you haven’t dived into this universe at all you should.

The newest game, released just a few weeks ago, takes a somewhat different spin on the kill-or-spare game mecahnic from Undertale. It allows you to follow Kris, a human living in a world of monsters, as he deals with the day-to-day trials and tribulations of school.

Until certain events leave him and the local bully, Susie, taking on an adventure to save the world.

I know that’s pretty vague and somewhat derivative, but it’s nowhere near as dull as I made it sound.

Please just play the game if you haven’t.

Trust me when I say it’s all worth experiencing as blindly as possible. As a result, the rest of my discussion is going to go on under the spoiler-laden read more line here.

Hope you’ve enjoyed me rambling in vague generalities if this is as far as you’ll go. Just come back and  let me know when you’ve gone through the experience for yourself!

Are you still here having not experienced Deltarune for yourself?

You better not be.

Because I swear, spoilers are going to start right away. You’ve been warned.

Deltarune takes the brilliant active battle system of Undertale, in which different enemies throughout the world attack your movable ‘soul’ on a grid with uniquely shaped bullets, and somehow cranks things up to 11.

Like I mentioned, Kris is just a normal boy in a world full of monsters going to school. But the game takes a radically dynamic turn when he falls into a hole in the school’s supply closet with Susie and winds up in a Dungeons and Dragons version of Alice in Wonderland, complete with enemies based off the four card suits.

Kris seems to become a Knight/Paladin class in this dark world, while Susie becomes an axe-wielding berserker. They’re joined by the fluffiest mage you’ve ever seen: Ralsei, Prince of the Darkeners (there’s a whole backstory about the light/dark balance that’s a little too long for me to get into here, so just roll with it).

Instead of the battle screen being modeled after Earthbound, the battle screens are modeled after Final Fantasy in this game.

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It looks so cool. Just… So cool.

Deltarune puts so much more detail into each in-battle and overworld sprite that it’s kind of crazy to me.

Every action has a different animation, be it guarding, fighting or performing an ACT that can help you end a battle without violence. The three main characters gain so much personality just from their animations and dialogue face plates.

There are also a lot more non-combat sections that pose a threat, where elements in the environment can damage you.

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The game even plays around with the mechanics of these sections by implementing puzzles you need the darkened screen to complete. It’s cleverly done!

But that’s not the only way Deltarune improves upon Undertale’s combat. There’s a fascinating system in place where the game actively undermines your efforts to end encounters amicably.

Susie desires nothing more than to bash everyone’s skulls in, so she auto-battles during combat sequences. Every encounter becomes a balancing act of figuring out how to make peace with the opponent while prevent your own party member from killing them .

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Violence takes a very different form in the dark world.

It’s a really dynamic and fun system to figure out, even if there are only about 8 or so enemy types in chapter 1. It seems like a perfect evolution for the seemingly simple kill-or-spare system of Undertale.

Did I mention that even basic combat utilizes one of the best battle themes I’ve heard in a long time? Sure, there are less unique battle songs for things like bosses in Deltarune than there were in Undertale, but this track alone sells the soundtrack for me.

Particularly in combination with the overworld music in the Field of Hopes and Dreams. Together they really sell the D&D atmosphere of the world, and that contrasts so well against the chill, quiet remixes of familiar Undertale tunes you hear in some sections of the game.

Which I think we have this soldier to thank for:

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Now I’m almost 1,000 words into this post and I’ve barely talked at all about the story.

Like I said earlier, everyone should experience this game. So I’m hesitant to really dive into any hefty detail about the story, particularly in regards to Kris, Susie and Ralsei’s journey.

It’s a blast watching them play off of one another.

But there’s so much vague, cryptic stuff in Deltarune that even after sleeping on it I’m still not entirely sure what I think about the game’s story.

For instance, the game initially seems to be a sequel to Undertale. But there are elements that seem to disprove the idea.

Certain characters from the first game are alive. Some of them don’t know each other the same way.

If anything the game almost seems like a prequel as a result, but even then there’s a lot of elements which don’t mesh with that idea.

Luckily only chapter 1 has been released, so there’s plenty of room to explain everything.

All we have to do is wait for Toby to keep working on the thing in that library computer lab so we can see more.

However, there’s more than enough just in this first installment that will undoubtedly keep me coming back.

Notably, the wonderful characters. You can look past the three main characters and returning characters and still find minor side characters that have just enough development to leave you yearning for more. Noelle, the Christmas-themed reindeer girl, is a poignant example for me.

It also has plenty of secrets. I know from brief conversations with my friends that there’s still a secret boss I haven’t fought yet.

Oh and let’s not forget that it has a perfectly self-aware sense of humor Tobyfox baked into every fibre of Undertale:

There’s a whole hell of a lot to laugh at.

If none of this has sold you on Deltarune, I’m not sure what to tell you. Frankly I just needed an avenue to throw out my still digesting thoughts on the game. Particularly my love for the aesthetic and most of the mechanics.

As more chapters come down the pipeline in the near future, I’m probably going to talk about it even more. So if you played and loved Deltarune like me, I’d love to hear some of your thoughts about it!

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