The narrative and storytelling techniques in video games are generally a big factor in whether or not I enjoy said video games. In fact, there are definitely some games where I enjoy the story more than the gameplay itself.
I am a writer. Not just of blog posts, but also of stories, short ones and novels alike. As such, I’m always interested in the narratives of video games I play. I love to devour a game’s story just as much as I love to devour a good book.
With that said, there are a good handle of games that I would be perfectly happy with reading like a novel. I play these games for the story and the characters rather than the gameplay itself. Sure, the gameplay mechanics may be amazing, but if the story has snagged my attention, the gameplay is always going to be second fiddle. Fantastic gameplay mechanics will not redeem a game with a dull story line in my eyes.
Take Undertale and Deltarune, for example. There is so much lore and theories behind the developed stories of these games. Especially in Undertale’s case, there are multiple ways you can take the story through your actions, whether or not you decide to do a peaceful or violent run-through of the game. And if you played it through a second time? There are characters that remember your first playthrough. There are characters that remember if you killed them before. I didn’t care much for the game’s battle mechanics, but I continued to play it to see how the story ended.
Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia is another example. War and faith are the general themes of the story, like many Fire Emblem games, but I was intrigued by the characters and definitely impressed with the voice acting. It was enough to keep me playing until the end, even though I found some of the battles repetitive and the dungeon sequences unappealing.
The most recent game we played through was Gris and we went into it knowing that it was a game with minimal enemies (if any at all). I picked it up first for it’s gorgeous art and stayed for the music and haunting narrative of trying to figure out the main character was searching for. My sister and I both teared up at the end once we realized how heavy and bittersweet the story was.
Thinking on all of this, it’s no wonder that I’ve gotten a newfound appreciation for visual novels and simulation games.
How important is story to you in games? Or do you prefer amazing gameplay to the story? Let me know in the comments below! If you liked this post, please share it around.
Title: Deltarune Chapter One Developer: Toby Fox Publisher: Toby Fox
Release Date: October 31, 2018
How we got the game: Downloaded for free for Windows
Deltarune is a spin-off of Toby Fox’s original, critically acclaimed game Undertale. Chapter One is the demo of Deltarune that Fox released on Halloween this year — a rather fitting day — to see how well it’d be received. Judging by the reactions I’ve seen and my personal opinion of it, I think many gamers enjoyed it. Be aware that, considering this is only chapter one, a demo of sorts, this review will probably contain some spoilers.
Deltarune plays similarly to Undertale. Using a top-down perspective, Deltarune employs role-playing tactics in an 8-bit like world. Battles give you different options, such as ACT or SPARE. Players use these actions to either avoid fighting the monsters they encounter or by attacking them to move on. While the goal is to avoid fighting, allowing the monsters to live, the player (and one of their allies) can attack instead.
Unlike Undertale, Deltarune uses a multi-member party. Your character, Kris, is the human leader while Susie is a monster who rather likes using force. Ralsei is the third member and is essentially the healer of the party who is in favor of sparing every monster the group encounters. Kris has the ability to influence the others actions on their quest, although at the beginning Susie is not controllable by the player, so sparing the monsters can be a little difficult. The party also has Team Points, which allows them to perform stronger magic spells or attacks, if need be.
Another difference from Undertale is that Deltarune Chapter One only has one ending. While the choices the player made in Undertale reflected what kind of ending one would get, Deltarune’s choices didn’t matter much. At the beginning of the game, some NPCs actually tell Kris that their choices don’t matter.
The gameplay for Deltarune took the mechanics from Undertale and improved upon them. I much prefer Deltarune’s combat system to Undertale’s, but the charm from the first game was still very much present in Deltarune.
Deltarune’s graphics are the same 8-bit graphics that Undertale used, keeping the style the same to further connect the two games. It’s not revolutionary, but the imagination that was poured into many of the monsters’ designs and profiles is wonderful. Seeing the quirky world that Fox has created and being immersed in it is a treat.
The music is gorgeous as well, pieces that Fox has composed and being familiar enough to remind us of Undertale but also standing out on their own. I cannot wait for a full soundtrack.
Deltarune opens with Kris, a human living in a world where Monsters roam on Earth, being taken to school by their adoptive mother Toriel, a maternal goat-like creature. Once Kris gets to school, they’re tasked with Susie, the bully of the class, to get more chalk from the supply closet, which turns out to be a portal to the Dark World.
In the Dark World, Kris and Susie meet Ralsei, the Prince of Darkness, who is incredibly sweet and fluffy. Ralsei is convinced that he, Susie, and Kris are the three heroes destined to save the world. Susie… is not as convinced. In fact, she decides to find her own way out of the Dark World, not wishing to play the role of hero.
Lancer is the fourth most important character, who is actually the prince of the cruel King who has seized control of the Dark World and wishes to continue spreading darkness. He is trying to stop the heroes and, for a while, has Susie on his side. During these times (and through amazing dialogue), all four kids end up becoming allies and friends.
Although Lancer at one point traps Kris, Susie, and Ralsei in prison, it was really due to him wishing for them not to encounter the King. Lancer was afraid that either his new friends or the King would get hurt. When the trio do encounter the King, they are able to exhaust him enough to win the battle. The trio’s actions — whether or not they have killed anyone in their path to escape the Dark World — will determine the outcome as to how the King is dispatched. Either way, Susie and Kris will return to their world.
The player is then allowed to explore the town, finding the Undertale Easter eggs scattered throughout, before returning home and going to bed. After the credits roll, Kris stirs from bed in the middle of the night, rips out their soul, and locks it into a birdcage. Kris pulls out a dagger and, with glowing red eyes and a sharp grin, looks back at the screen at the player, a cliffhanger for Chapter Two.
Being a demo and just the first part of what will hopefully be a bigger, finished game, Deltarune Chapter One is great fun with wonderful characters and fantastic writing. With that said, there’s not too many secrets or Easter eggs to find after playing through it the first time, especially since there is only one ending. Still, with how much fun it is, I can see myself going back to Deltarune once in a while.
At least until the full game comes out.
4 out of 5 lives.
Have you played this game? What did you think? Let us know in the comments!