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Deltarune Final Thoughts

November 1, 2018

No story spoilers, but obviously avoid reading if you want no knowledge about the game whatsoever. In which case you should probably just play it.

I liked just about everything about it. I guess the only complaint I have is that there’s not more of it, which is weird to say. A game dropping out of nowhere for free, I expected it to be a little adventure thing that takes about an hour. I wasn’t expecting so many mechanical improvements. Well, potential improvements. Ultimately I was a little disappointed that the strategy for each enemy STILL just boils down to repeating the one or two actions that work against it, and the fact that there’s still no mechanical character advancement is frustrating. There’s a lot of room for an RPG with a strategic non-combat encounter system, but Deltarune still isn’t it. At least so far. I liked the three-member party, I liked how the characters interacted with each other both in and out of encounters. I really liked how one of your party members is antagonistic toward you for part of the game, and you have to adapt to deal with it, even if ultimately the adaptation was just… picking one additional menu option at the start of each battle.

I feel like the bullet hell dodging is a lot more forgiving than Undertale, and I think it’ll be easier for people who had problems with the first game. I like the tension system a lot, I just wish the game gave me a reason to use it outside of the final two battles. However, having the ability to heal mid-combat without spending an item is really helpful and I look forward to seeing what new skills are introduced. I like how “scraping” the bullets builds tension meter, and it’s an interesting trade-off of risk vs. reward. Do I try to scrape this round so I have enough TP to heal on the next turn and risk getting knocked out? Situations like that.

The only time I felt like the bullet-dodging was massively unbalanced was the secret boss. I honestly don’t know what they expect you to do - I thought it would be a fight you could only win if you killed enemies and leveled up to get more HP, but I tried that and that doesn’t even seem possible - every enemy runs away when you deal enough damage to it and I couldn’t find anything that actually caused you to level. Maybe the fight’s meant to be unwinnable, or maybe there’s a scripted event that happens if all your party members get knocked out. I didn’t let it get to that point, but maybe I’ll try it to see what happens. I ended up cheating by editing the save file to give the characters 1000 HP, and I still barely survived the final attack (although I suspect it was scripted to do a percentage of your life in damage instead of a fixed amount.) I was sort of underwhelmed by what happens when you finish the fight, but maybe you’re not meant to in this chapter. Anyway, I find that sort of thing pretty tedious. I don’t mind the dodging stuff, but the last thing I want to do in a game like this is really put my bullet hell skills to the test.

Story and character-wise, I loved everything and I can’t wait to see what’s next. This release is called “Chapter 1”, so that makes me really curious what the structure is going to be like. This game really feels like a tiny part of something much bigger, but if this is “Chapter 1”, does that imply that the next chapter is going to have the same scope? I kind of hope not - I’d really love the next game to do a lot more with the new mechanics (and the ones that are hinted at, like the mystery stats that don’t do anything) This feels like the start of something a lot more ambitious than Undertale, and I wonder if I’m reading too much into it. Outside of help with the art, localization, and a little bit of the music, it still seems very much like a 1-person project, and I don’t want to be unrealistic about the scope of it. Regardless, I’m in for whatever comes next, because the characters, art, and music has charmed me just as much as Undertale. It’s more of what I love but it’s not just more of the same.

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