Have you ever played an RPG that made you question why you were fighting in the first place? In Undertale, the 2015 indie hit, you wander through the underground world of monsters as a human child. But instead of the standard hack-and-slash your way to victory, Undertale gives you a choice in every battle: fight, act peacefully, or show mercy.
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Dodging Bullets: Undertale’s Bullet Hell-Inspired Combat
Undertale turned the traditional RPG combat system on its head with a bullet hell-inspired mechanic. Instead of mashing attack buttons, you have to navigate waves of projectiles flying at you.
To survive encounters, you’ll need fast reflexes and sharp eyes. Enemy attacks come in brightly coloured bullets, arrows, and other shapes that fly across the screen. Your job is to control a tiny heart representing your soul and dodge everything coming your way. If you get hit, you lose HP. Run into too many attacks, and your HP drops to 0, ending the fight.
While dodging, you have to find openings to select ‘Fight,’ ‘Act,’ ‘Item,’ or ‘Mercy.’ Fighting and acting both deal damage, but performing lets you take nonviolent actions like flirting, insulting, or comforting enemies. If their name turns yellow, you can spare them to end the encounter peacefully.
Giving Players Choice in How They Fight
When it comes to combat in Undertale, you’ve got options. Unlike most RPGs where fighting is inevitable, this game gives you choices in resolving encounters.
- You can spare enemies instead of attacking them. All you have to do is select the “Spare” option, then dodge enemy attacks until their name turns yellow.
- You can flirt, compliment, or joke with some enemies to resolve the encounter amusingly. Each enemy reacts differently, so see what works!
- You’ll have to fight for enemies that won’t spare you no matter what.
How Undertale’s Innovative Combat System Flipped Traditional RPG Mechanics Upside Down
Undertale turned the traditional RPG formula on its head with its innovative combat system. Instead of mashing attack buttons to defeat enemies, Undertale allows you to show mercy.
Combat as Puzzle
Some may require you to survive a bullet hell-esque attack, then say the right thing to calm them down. Others could need a gift or joke to make them laugh. Peacefully solving these combat puzzles is deeply rewarding.
Your actions shape Undertale’s ending in meaningful ways. If you kill many monsters, you’ll get a bleak ending and learn that violence often breeds more violence. If you show compassion, you’ll be rewarded with a heartwarming conclusion. This little indie game proves the power of mercy and how it can triumph over mindless violence.