Review: Deltarune Chapter 2

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By Josh Nichols on September 23rd, 2021

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Few things feel as meaningful as a game developed by Toby Fox. There’s just something about the faraway worlds and characters he’s helped bring to life. Undertale is an indie star and darling for a myriad of reasons but sincerity and the power of player agency are certainly among most people’s praise for the title.

And so far, Deltarune has managed to carry the same power and authority over the impact our actions and voice can have on those around us. The journey through the mysterious “Dark Worlds” couldn’t be further from ours, and yet the moments, the triumphs, and each loss couldn’t have felt more personal. That’s the power of player agency and what can be accomplished when it runs straight through making an impact in a hopeless and dying universe.

Available Now for Free – The Official Soundtrack is Available on Bandcamp

Deltarune Chapter 2’s story starts right after Chapter 1, picking up straight after the events of the previous chapter. If you haven’t played it yet, it’s free just like this chapter. Go play it, carve out your own journey, and then come back. I’m an advocate of Let’s Plays and experiencing games through unconventional means but Undertale and Deltarune are made to be lived in and experienced, if at all possible.

Kris and Susie make their way back to the Dark World in Chapter 2 but this time it’s a little different. Okay, a lot different, but things are just as strange and wonderful as before. In Chapter 2, Kris and Susie travel to the Dark World through a library computer. It’s definitely still a Dark World but this one is technology-themed and ruled by an evil computer called Queen.

Queen captures Noelle, a classmate of Kris and Susie’s, with the goal of turning her into the next “Knight.” Queen seeks to use the power of a Knight to create Dark Fountains. Another classmate, Berdley, ends up leaving with Queen and the captured Noelle since he’s kind of into Queen. Kris and Susie have no choice but to give chase, not only to save their friend but also much, much more.

It’s all about the journey

It’s better if you discover the details of Deltarune on your own, especially since how you feel about the characters, story, and the unfolding events are important. It’s a genuinely meaningful experience that leans on player response. Sometimes it’s for bigger stuff but other times it could be a little thing. But it’s those moments that make Deltarune feel special. It’s those little moments that add up and make our actual lives feel special.

At a time when game development feels increasingly focused on multiple endings, it’s really bold and impressive to see Toby Fox approach Deltarune from a much more interesting angle. Fox has already said that Deltarune will only have one ending, as opposed to the multiple available in Undertale. I bring this up because Fox is achieving exactly what I think he’s setting out to do. Emphasizing the impact of our actions and words, across each and every moment.

Undertale had its fair share of focus on the moments along the way, with many coming to mind as I type these words, but there was still a focus on what it all added up to in the end. And while it’s ultimately too soon to say for sure, Deltarune feels like it’s much more about the journey and far less about wherever it ends. Chapter 2 had so many words of dialogue, character movements, and even powerful moments of silence that are smaller on their own but speak volumes when considered more broadly.

Deltarune Chapter 2 tackles powerful emotions and themes. It also does so while highlighting strength in numbers, with some focus put on recruiting more to your heroic cause. Player agency also of course gives you the option to consider other options, and that may differ for some of us. It’s part of what makes Fox’s games so special. Instead of pulling back a curtain, winking at your, and reminding you that you were playing a game all along, Fox dares to do something much more beautiful and/or horrific.

Are Digital Decisions still decisions?

Toby Fox and team created a digital world with animated characters and sprites. We as players are free to explore and do as we wish, but there’s something to be said about unnecessarily cruel or indifferent decisions, regardless of where they take place. Exploring and living in Fox’s digital spaces feels more immersive than even the most detailed 0451 games. That’s a testament to Deltarune’s dialogue and all the details that so densely populate this world.

I genuinely believe that everyone can get something from Deltarune. Exactly what I can’t say because your responses and feelings toward the journey may differ from mine. But it’s a journey for anyone that goes on it. Deltarune Chapter 2 continues the tradition of stirring up hearts and sincere questions around interesting topics. But it’s also kind of hard? Or at least, I think it is. And I likely won’t be the only one that feels that way.

I don’t really know what I would change. I don’t even necessarily think anything needs to be changed. Deltarune is just a perfect example of a game featuring gameplay that won’t be for everyone. I cannot imagine the story, its message, or the game’s themes failing to leave an impression on someone though. I just can’t see it. The first two chapters of Deltarune have gone to some truly moving places and some of them aren’t even physical spaces. Deltarune Chapter 2 took me on a trip and some of the biggest moments consist of some words spoken by a character or just a whisper from the background storytelling.

Combat largely consists of considering characters and situations and then reacting accordingly, especially if you’re not planning on killing any characters. I struggled occasionally but often realized what I needed to do on a second or third attempt. Still, if the game itself sounds like something you’d love but you don’t want to play, consider experiencing it differently. A No-Commentary Playthrough or perhaps a Let’s Play from a content creator you find yourself relating to would also be a good way to experience Undertale and Deltarune, especially if it’s too difficult or you just don’t get anything out of the gameplay itself. I have done this before with some games. I always buy something to support developers in a different way, or just the game itself. There’s no reason to miss out on something just because you don’t want to actually play it.

Watch it or play it – but don’t miss Deltarune

Whatever you do, don’t miss Deltarune. Find a way to immerse yourself within its world. The story is inspiring and the game’s approach to how characters are able to respond to story details and threats is beyond interesting. I have nothing against standard video game combat but hacking, slashing, blasting, and destroying has gotten pretty old after a few decades. I hadn’t fully experienced Undertale or Deltarune until this review and yet they are now some of my favorite games. I can’t imagine games or game design without the influence of Toby Fox and the questions he continues to explore. And I hope we never do.

It’s going to be a while until Chapters 3, 4, and 5 are available to play. They’re also going to cost money, which is more than fair. The contents of the first two chapters should keep fans busy for quite some time, especially since the community also has a rich history of fan games and other unofficial projects. Deltarune Chapter 2 is currently available on PC, along with the first chapter. The first chapter is also available on Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4. Undertale is available on PC, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. If nothing else, don’t you dare miss the original soundtracks from Toby Fox. Both Undertale and Deltarune are filled with atmospheric and emotional tracks that almost add up to functional audiobooks on the game’s story, characters, and events.

9
Great
Deltarune Chapter 2 answers some questions from the first chapter but it ultimately just pulls back the curtain even further on a world that feels infinite in mystery and wonder. Toby Fox playfully explores what it means to live in a hopeless world and how much better it can be if we all try to make it a little bit better.

Josh really likes video games. Horror is their favorite but they also like other stuff.

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