If you – The reader – are like me, and haven’t really been sold on the entire Toby fox thing and his classic inspired games, this article might change your mind. Having recently gotten the chance to try the two released chapters of his new game Deltarune (currently available for free on PC, PS4 and Switch), they felt for me as nothing but an entire game changer, and one that is worthy of the same attention most AAA get, and in my honest opinion, very well deserved.
Letting go of the Past
The thing that probably pissed me off the most in my Undertale experience was actually the core of the game itself, so there was nothing I could simply do to ignore it. The entirety of the game was built as a homage to the early days of the NES, or 8 bit games in general, and therefore it was plagued with the same issues that were a common occurrence in these days, such as the random encounter system, but I was very glad to know that this system was completely removed in Deltarune.
The combat is the same, from a top-down perspective with puzzle and shooting elements, but this time you can avoid encounters if you want, and talking to enemies is not a random process that depends on luck anymore, but every enemy you encounter actually follows a scripted set of patterns that will make your repeated encounters a breeze, and even if you encounter the same boss again, the game takes your feelings of repetition into account and prepares a different, albeit funny script to enrich the experience of meeting the same boss a second time.
Deltarune: A complete Overhaul
From the first moment, its obvious that Deltarune is opting for a SNES game approach, with sections that totally resemble iconic scenes from SNES games. Fans of the recent Katana Zero will probably get what I am talking about, but what actually sealed the deal for me was the Chrono Trigger vibes I got from everything, like the similar team structure and the combined X abilities in active time battles, and particularly the drastic change between the locations of the 2 chapters.
This is something I feel many video games are afraid to try nowadays, despite being the most charming aspect in JRPGs for me. The contrast between the mystical kingdom of the past, and the cybernetic city of the future is definitely a reminder of the contrast between the future era and the antiquity era from Trigger, but with Toby Fox’s own twists and turns, and a narrative that keeps you fully invested this time with actual hooks and witty jokes that are bound to make anyone roll from laughter.
What kept me invested most of all though was that the developer was actually hell bent on making me invested. I don’t have to wait this time until the end of each respective arc to get the development I desire, like how most JRPGs go with their narrative. As I mentioned before, there are unexpected twists and turns every single minute, and it is nearly impossible to get bored for any purpose. It’s an experience that I have been really craving for some time now, and I shudder at the thought that Toby Fox has to top himself considering he already outdone everything he has done before in the 2nd chapter.
A departure from JRPG tropes
Every JRPG fan owes it to themselves to play Deltarune, in fact, the game is made with prior JRPG experience in mind, as there are many hidden references scattered everywhere, and the game even makes fun of the long iconic party member anthem that plays whenever a new member joins in any dragon quest game. I definitely felt at home here, and you will too if you give it a try. It’s one of these rare games that are made with love and passion, despite being completely free.
The game fixes everything that might have pissed off other players in normal Japanese games, such as the characters failing to exist in the narrative after their respective arc is over, or not delivering any relatable message as intended, making the time we spent with them a complete waste of time. This is not the case here and every single event or encounter helps create ongoing dynamics and conflicts between all the characters and even the bosses. The boss is not something you meet at the end of the stage, but is part of the continues struggle on all gameplay fronts.
The serious significance of the game lies probably in the main theme of the characters repressing themselves or letting loose in a struggle to be themselves or the version society demands of them. This is the main plotline that ties everyone, and even the villains talk a lot about how they are forced into predetermined roles like they are aware of being forced into this type of narrative. Deltarune is definitely a game that will help you gain a new found perspective on your place in society across multiple levels and perspectives, and there is nothing quite currently like it.