Toby Fox’s surprise Undertale follow-up carries over many themes, with the new turn-based battles continuing to focus on forgiveness, compassion and understanding to win over the hearts and minds of adversaries. There’s just one monster-sized hurdle to overcome – the protagonist has been paired with a secondary character that fails to understand the value of kindness.
Being a story driven affair, with characters pausing for a chinwag after every climatic battle or upon entering a new location, it’s hard to go into DELTARUNE in detail without fear of spoiling something.
We can at least detail the outline of the plot. It begins with the silent lead character, a human, running late for school. Their tardiness results in them being paired up for a project with the school bully – a purple monster known as Susie. After being sent to the supply closet for more chalk, they’re somehow teleported into a mystical realm on the brink of destruction. If this doesn’t make it clear DELTARUNE prides itself of being silly, nothing will.
There’s a slight air of ‘Nelson Muntz’ to Susie’s character design, and not just because of the shaggy hairstyle. She’s quick to mock others, and more than happy to let her fists do the talking, but it’s nothing more than a ‘tough front’ linked to an inherent fear of being judged. The same is also true for the self-proclaimed villain of the piece – a mischievous chap known as Lancer – and as a mutual understanding between the two blossoms, the storyline starts to form twists.
For the most part, DELTARUNE reuses Undertale’s winning formula – it’s a role-player with a Nintendo-esque vibe, frequent battles, a cast of oddball characters, and a handful of simple yet pleasing to solve puzzles. The battle system is deeper and more complex, however, resembling the turn-based battles found in early Final Fantasy games.
It’s still action-orientated – in the sense that each battle has a mini-game involving avoiding various objects, with different patterns and obstacles for each enemy – but there’s now a party system with all the usual RPG trimmings.
This includes a ‘support’ character – Ralsei, a mild-mannered native to the mystical world, who is introduced early on. They bring our heroes up to speed, firmly believing they hold the power to end the ongoing tussle between the light and the dark.