Review Summary: I don't want to let go...
It seemed that only ten years ago, the idea of one creating their own game towards high acclaim was but a fantasy. Games take a long time and a huge amount of effort to just put together and it usually requires a lot of money. However within recent years thanks to technology and the creation of online crowdfunding, we’re seeing a huge boom of independent developers creating their own games that are not only good, but also incredibly successful. Games such as Dust: An Elysian Tale
, Ori and the Blind Forest
and The Stanley Parable
have all seen such resounding praise from players and critics from all across the board, perhaps even more so than most AAA titled games that have been released within the last few years. Toby Fox’s Undertale
was by far (and still is) the most talked about game of the decade. With its humor, story, characters, and of course its soundtrack, it reached several Game of the Year lists and grew a dedicated fanbase within mere days of its release date on September 15th, 2015.
Considering that Toby Fox created the entire game himself, it’s no surprise that he would create the entire soundtrack himself as well. But it would probably come to few people’s attention of just how amazing this soundtrack is. Not only does it pay homage to the music of many older games, but it manages to reflect the emotion and story throughout the entire two-hour runtime. Almost every song has its own unique style and sound to it, like the entertainingly catchy “Bonetrousle”, or the hilarious “Temmie Village” (by far the soundtrack’s funniest song). Every song has its own tone as well, be it emotional (“Undertale”, “His Theme”), or dramatic (“Hopes and Dreams”, “Spear of Justice”), or action-packed (“Spider Dance”, “SAVE the World”), or just downright silly (“Dummy”, “Dogsong”), you’ll be constantly invested in what the soundtrack manages to deliver. Influences range from games back in the NES days to even some of the more modern classics. Songs like “Oh! One True Love” harken back to Ocarina of Time
while other such as “Snowy”, “Waterfall” and “It’s Raining Somewhere Else” remind us of more recent role-playing games such as Tales of Symphonia
and Xenoblade Chronicles
. Some of the heavier tracks such as “Hopes and Dreams” and “Meglovania” are reminiscent towards Bayonetta
while earlier influences of Battletoads
and the first Final Fantasy
games are present in “Enemy Approaching” and “Stronger Monsters”.
The soundtrack is also well executed in terms of the instrumentation. While it may not seem as impressive at first glance, the amount of work put into some of the songs showcases the level of talent Toby Fox has as a self-taught musician. The overall sound combines a lot of the older styles of NES video games and mixes it with modern touches of pianos, bass, and electric guitar work. Even the orchestral sounds feel authentic at times such as in “An Ending” and “Snowdin Town”. The mixture of these elements helps give the sound a refreshing taste without sacrificing its own identity, and it’s why this soundtrack works so well.
Sadly, the only unfortunate flaw in the soundtrack is that a few of game’s melodies, especially the main theme, repeat themselves all too often which does lead to some repetitive tracks. For instance, “Spear of Justice” is just sped up versions of “NGAHHH” with some minor differences. There are also times where some of the shorter songs feel rather unnecessary and are more or less sound effects than actual songs, such as “Long Elevator”. Even so, they never really ruin the experience that the rest of the soundtrack has to offer.
has become a modern marvel in the gaming community, and its soundtrack is one of the reasons as to why is has become such a landmark. Here, it pays incredible homage towards its influences and will certainly give many listeners nostalgia towards those once classic games. However, despite the immense amount of influences, the soundtrack itself never feels dated thanks to Toby Fox’s well executed songwriting and musicianship. Every emotion, character, and style is present in Undertale’s
soundtrack and the result is arguably one of the best video game soundtracks created within the last fifteen years, maybe one of the best video game soundtracks of all time. Regardless of what Toby Fox has in store for us next time around, we will be sitting here listening and playing Undertale
and its music for years to come.