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Impressions & Commentary: DeltaRune Chapters 1 & 2

Time for a short break from politics to talk about a game that I promised a piece about a while back, but took way too long to get to. Undertale is one of my favorite games of all time, somewhere in my top five at least, and yet it took this long to check out the follow up. Admittedly, I’d probably have waited until the full game was released to review it, but this won on a Patreon poll a while back and I plan to see that through. But at the time, I was under the impression that each chapter was basically a full game in and of itself, and that there would only be a small amount of them. It turns out that there is actually supposed to be seven chapters, which means that my piece on the first twois better suited to the Impressions & Commentary format. This means there will be spoilers for these first few chapters, and also some speculation in regards t to later chapters.

Around when the first chapter was released, Toby Fox said that he suspected nothing he could ever make would live up to Undertale, but if the remaining chapters are as good as the first two, I think DeltaRune could surpass it in quality. Not only is it superior in terms of production values, but the scope of the game will likely dwarf that of its predecessor.

DeltaRune’s story starts out by allowing you to customize your own character, only to completely ignore said character in order to not so subtly tell you that your choices will not impact the game nearly as much as in Undertale. You then take control of Kris, an androgynous teenager who is raised by Toriel from the first game, and is taken to school. You are then assigned to do a group project, but no one wants to pick you. This means that you get stuck with Susie, an anti-social and very intimating woman who almost decides to kill you, only to back off at the last minute because the whole “murder” thing would be kind of a pain in the ass. Then they walk into the storage closet which takes them to another dimension.

This scene STILL gives me chills, even after the shit I’ve seen.

So yeah, DeltaRune is an isekai, but you can still play this it if you don’t have covid because this one isn’t tasteless! So after Kris and Susie are warped to the Dark World, they meet Prince Ralsei, who says they need to close down a bunch of magical fountains, and they need to defeat the Chaos King in order to close down the first fountain. Ralsei joins them and they head out on their journey. This leads to a whole bunch of shenanigans of course, most of which is because Susie won’t go along with it.

She starts out by attacking all the enemies, which is a no-no because the enemies are all cute little goofballs and not like regular RPG enemies. However, she eventually decides to join the enemy because she’s better at that. In the process, she befriends Lancer, the hilariously incompetent and non-threatening son of the Chaos King as they try and stop Kris and Ralsei. This is until you fight them, and by “fight” I mean the exact opposite of fight because Kris and Ralsei are libcucks and don’t believe in violence. After which, Susie decides to re-join you, and everyone’s happy until they get thrown in prison.

Susie manages to break out, and she comes face to face with Lancer, who wants to free his new friends, but his dad won’t let him. This leads to a scripted battle where Susie’s badass theme song plays, and where Lancer refuses to fight while Susie proceeds to wrecks him worse than NFTs wreck the environment. Lancer finally spills his guts after several turns of Susie’s beatings… figuratively not literally, tells the truth, in which case Susie finally agrees to promise not to kill the Chaos King.

So this particular scene is one that stuck with me quite a bit. Not only is Susie made out to be absolutely fierce and menacing, but the fact that she actually stops shows some significant development on her part. The entire reason she’s so anti-social and violent is because of her lack of friends, and because she fears them all turning on her. This is a strikingly realistic portrayal of why some teens end up acting out and mistreating others, and it’s even more interesting since we don’t often see violent women in games that are violent in a non-sexual way… not that I’m opposed to that or anything. In fact, it occurs to me that Susie is basically Momoyo Kawakami done right.

Another nice touch is that the name of the track that plays is called Vs. Susie, which is clearly meant to mislead anyone who looks at the song titles before playing. You’re actually playing as Susie during this scene, so it’s likely that they intended for you to assume Susie would be a villain. And given her frightening introduction, and her general nasty behavior, it’s not hard to see why some would assume this. Also, anyone here some vague similarities to Megalovania in the opening? This IS the hardest hitting and most tense song in the game thus far, so it’s entirely possible that it was meant to comment on Susie’s propensity for violence, possibly drawing a connection to Genocide Frisk.

And speaking of Genocide route connections, there’s Jevil, that creepy clown fuck who literally sees the world as a game, and thus tries to kill everyone to entertain himself. I’m kinda surprised no one seems to have noticed the connection to Undertale’s genocide route, since it seems pretty obvious to me, especially considering the line “HOW CAN YOU REFUSE, WHEN YOU ARE ALREADY PLAYING?” In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if all the hints about Gaster end up being red hearings and there’s actually a connection to Undertale’s genocide route. Honestly, the amount of lore in this series is intense, and I’m looking forward to seeing where the story goes.

Anyway, about Jevil, the most popular character until Spamton appeared. He’s an optional boss that appears in the basement of the chapter’s final dungeon, and you are told not to let him out, but you do so anyway. In turn, you get a bonus boss that is significantly harder than anyone in the main game, and I absolutely loved this fight! A bit of a hot take, I don’t have overly strong feelings about the base gameplay in Undertale or DeltaRune, The spectacle is amazing, but the base gameplay is so easy that it feels like the mechanics are not used to their full potential most of the time. Which is why I’m glad the game seems to be including more optional bosses that don’t require you to kill all your friends to access.

Above: Killing your son to own the lightners.

Anyway, about the Chaos King battle, that was pretty badass as well. Once again, that fucking music does an amazing job at setting the mood. I also love how he’s built up as a typical JRPG villain, yet the rug as pulled out from under you after you beat him. In any other JRPG, a villain who threatens the life of their own child would be standard fair, but in this game, it turns out that he was bluffing. It shows how easily we can dehumanize those who stand against us, and fit them into convenient boxes, instead of viewing them as fully sentient beings. They really try and build up the king as some malicious, evil figure, almost as a foil to Asgore. But despite this, they still humanize him just enough that he fits in with the series core theme.

Then that brings us to chapter 1’s ending, where you finally get to meet up with the cast of the previous games and see where they are now. DeltaRune is stated to be in a different continuity from Undertale, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if Toby decided to sweep the rug out from under us again. He kinda likes doing that. This is the same game that was disguised as a survey program when it was first released after all, and I suspect that’s what inspires all these theories and speculation. And speaking of speculation, there’s that fucking ending! They had us waiting on that creepy ass cliffhanger ending for three years, only to reveal that Kris was just stealing the pie. What a fucking troll!

I’m trying to keep the lewd jokes to minimum since this is an E-rated game and all, but this is some serious guro energy… please don’t look that up if you don’t get it…

As for chapter two, this one was even better than the first. First things first, I really like what they did with the Castle Town, and the incentives they have to spare all the enemies. Not to mention, the Castle Town just has a calming atmosphere that is going to be very nostalgic in ten years. Gosh, it’s a real fucking trip to see Zoomers talking about how they feel nostalgic for Undertale when it was only released six years ago… okay it actually sounds like a long time when I say it like that, but I’m going to be 27 in a few days so it’s not as long to me.

Anyway, Chapter 2 takes place in the Cyber World, and this time, Kris’s classmates Noelle and Berdly are also there. I quite liked Noelle’s character arc, and her crush on Susie is so cute. Oh, and it’s also gay represematation! That’s neat I guess. Berdly was just stupid and obnoxious the whole time, and it’s hilarious to see the main villain hiding from him during vital cutscenes because he’s so annoying and doesn’t want to deal with him. Oh yeah, should probably talk about the Queen, but that’s going to be a challenge since If I were to spill my unfiltered thoughts, most of them would be thirst posting, and I’d at least like to keep that kind of stuff to games rated T and up.

Although now that I think about it, chapter 2 DID feel a bit hornier than Toby Fox’s past work. Maybe it’s just the progesterone… okay yes, it’s definitely the progesterone, but I certainly did not expect to see the words “it means titty” in a Toby Fox game. Okay yes, he also spelled it wrong, but that was probably to sneak it past the censors. Also I mentioned my thirst for the Queen, but I didn’t even mention Tasque Manager. Toby knew what he was doing with that, just like he knew what he was doing when he had Sans say “I already befriended your mom last night.”

Anyway, I was talking about the plot or something. I found the Queen’s character quite interesting, and was a nice contrast to have a more humorous villain after such a ruthless scoundrel like the Chaos King. Although I honestly may have preferred a traditional second phase to the Punch Out minigame in the second half of the fight. It’s not that the fight was bad, it’s just that Giga Size is such a badass track and it feels like kind of a waste to use it only for the preceding cutscene. It would have been nice to have a more slower paced yet also tense boss theme for once. Not every boss theme has to be fast paced and upbeat you know. In anything, having all your tracks fit that same structure just makes them stand out less. And that’s not to say that Attack of the Killer Queen wasn’t a total banger, but imagine having something like Giga Size playing throughout the entire fight after you just heard AotKQ in the previous fight. Having a slower and more tense track to symbolize your weariness, and the fact that you’re outmatched against a giant robot, after you just struggled to fight the queen herself.

And yes, this has nothing to do with the design or the story, because I have no real complaints other than these tiny nitpicks. And I do suppose I’m thinking about things more from the perspective of an ordinary JRPG, rather than what DeltaRune is supposed to be. I get it, DeltaRune’s supposed to be subversive, and also, how the fuck would the three of them fight a giant robot on their own without their own giant robot to counter with? But you know me, I kinda like traditional JRPGs. I’m not one of those “Ohhh EarthBound’s too hard UwU I need mommy to hold me on her lap while she plays it for me” kinda queers. Back in my day, we had to crawl through the dungeons BOTH WAYS, with NO check points! And it was… actually pretty frustrating… okay I think I took this bit as far as I can.

Beware the man who speaks in hands……

But thankfully, DeltaRune does have some moments that are a genuine challenge… even though that wasn’t what we were talking about before this tangent started. Both Chapter 1 & 2 have a challenging super boss that is significantly harder than anything in the main game. In Chapter 1, it was that creepy clown fuck Jevil. In chapter 2, it’s the infamous Spamton, a character who speaks entirely in disconnected gibberish made from spam sites and popup adds. Just like with Jevil, Spamton has a weird ass backstory that hints towards Gaster having a larger role in the story. However, Spamton may be upgraded from bonus boss status if you decide to go through the Snow Grave route.

Okay, I’ll admit, I didn’t play this route myself and just looked up a playthrough on Youtube. The snow grave route, somehow, manages to be even more unsettling than Undertale’s genocide route. This route is so unsettling because it’s no longer a matter of killing all your friends in cold and merciless display of pure evil, it’s also about your own abusive and destructive habits corrupting others. Specifically, you take a cute and innocent teenage girl like Noelle, and you continue to make her kill people.

It culminates by making her perform the Snow Grave command on Berdly, a powerful ice spell that is heavily implied to have killed him. Keep in mind, Berdly is one of Noelle’s classmates, and also has a crush on her. And the fact that Berdly is implied to be dead after everyone returns to the light world indicates that there could be some major differences in how the story goes. Of course, it’s also possible that they could say that Berdly was “just sleeping” or some shit, but regardless, I’m curious as to what fucked up shit will happen in the full game if this is any indication of its trajectory. Oh, and you have to fight Spamton as the chapter’s final boss on this route, as opposed to an optional boss.

So yeah, I quite like how this game is turning out thus far. I don’t know if there’ much else I really have to say until the full game is released. Anyway, I probably won’t write anything else about the game until the full game is released, with likely exceptions for Amazing VGM pieces. So yeah, I think that concludes this piece… I don’t really have a good closing statement this time, go away!

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