Courtesy of Toby Fox

November 1, 2021

‘Deltarune Chapter 2’: Not Just a Whimsical Videogame

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After three years, the long-awaited second installment of Toby Fox’s beloved Deltarune has been released. Fox issued Deltarune Chapter 2 to the public on Sept. 17 completely gratis, announcing on his website that “The world has been really tough for everybody recently. So I decided to release DELTARUNE Chapter 2 for free. I guess like a pet cat that drops bugs at your doorstep, I can, with some pride, show you the weird things I’ve been doing.” As these indie projects entail immense effort from an intimate cohort of incredibly talented developers, he suggested in his statement that those who wish to support his work can purchase the soundtrack from Bandcamp. 

This chapter of Deltarune reinforces the exemplary reputation of the series and solidifies it as its own entity, rather than a mere appendage to its extremely successful predecessor, Undertale. From endearing characters to exhilarating music, this franchise continues to appeal to an eclectic gaming audience and propel Toby Fox into further (and well-deserved) recognition. 

This second installment thrusts players back into the immersive and chaotic world of Deltarune, with the triumphant return of the idiosyncratic trio Kris, Susie and Ralsei, along with side characters Berdly and Noelle who are more prominently featured in this chapter.  The link between Deltarune and Undertale is still ambiguous, as they share numerous characters and details but are said to be distinct universes by Fox. In the Deltarune Chapter 1, students Kris and Susie embark on a quest to resolve the conflict between “Lightners” and “Darkners” after being teleported to a magic-infused underworld via a suspicious broom closet. Their odyssey culminates in the defeat of the nefarious King and the sealing of the Dark Fountain, preventing further Dark Worlds from emerging. After briefly returning to their mundane reality, they are once again plunged into this mysterious Dark World in Chapter 2. 

Immediately, players are introduced to a bustling, kaleidoscopic Cyber City accompanied by vivacious music. The vibrant setting and the upgraded RPG-like gameplay allow for a refreshing experience replete with hilarious dialogue. Chapter 2 also introduces a bevy of quirky characters, the most prominent being the flamboyant robot Queen, who is simultaneously conniving and delightfully facetious. Fox’s game developing acumen is evident as players become attached to these multifaceted characters, full of a vitality that transcends the limitations of their 8-bit sprites. 

However, what has elevated Fox’s games into videogame prestige is the ominous lore that lurks beneath the games’ innocuous facades, effectively shattering players’ initial impressions of the games as whimsical and somewhat frivolous. In Undertale, this predominantly took the form of the ruthless genocide route, in which players deliberately obliterate every innocent creature in their path to unleash the bloodlustful soul of Chara. This malevolent pursuit drastically distorts the experience to the extent of unrecognizability, presenting a wholly sinister horror plot and ending where innocent characters flee to avoid the player’s murderous crusade. Should players opt for pacifism, slaying no creature they encounter, they will be rewarded with the full breadth of the hidden lore, convivial characters, and epic music. As an intermediary between pacifism and genocide, there is also a neutral option, yielding three pathways with numerous complexities and nuances that players have the prerogative to choose. Deltarune Chapter 2 perpetuates these subtle, sinister undertones with the “Snowgrave” route, in which the player can manipulate the timid, pacifistic character Noelle into felling friends and foes alike.  These dark tidbits that are interspersed in the ebullient world of Deltarune allow enthusiasts to delve further into the enigmatic lore.   

Although Fox is a remarkable indie game developer, his virtuosity in music composition is what distinguishes him. The music of Deltarune Chapter 2 is truly indelible, on par with — and often surpassing — the quality of the Deltarune Chapter 1 and Undertale soundtracks. Most notably, his trademark use of leitmotifs conjures a sense of nostalgia that hearkens back to Undertale and reinforces the complexity of the lore. Familiar tunes enmeshed with memorable new melodies make Chapter 2’s soundtrack undeniably transcendent. Some of my personal favorites include “My Castle Town,” “A CYBER’S WORLD?,” “Pandora Palace,” “Smart Race,” and “Attack of the Killer Queen,” the last of which is a collaborative endeavor between Toby Fox, Lena, Raine and Marcy Nabors. To get the complete leitmotif experience that is embedded in certain songs, it is best if you are familiar with Undertale

Fox has revealed that the future of the franchise will consist of seven total chapters, eliciting a dubious response from players. There were three years of development separating chapters one and two, and assuming a similar pace for subsequent releases, the series will seemingly be protracted for 15 more years. Fox has assuaged doubts by announcing that chapters three, four, and five will release simultaneously, although they will not be free. 

Developing these games as a solo developer is an incredibly arduous feat, and Fox indisputably deserves to be compensated for the consistent quality of his content.  He has since acquired a diligent team to aid in the process, including Temmie Chang with whom he collaborated for Undertale; yet, releasing Chapter 2 free of charge was generous considering their indefatigable work. In this interregnum between chapters, fans such as myself are eagerly awaiting the next installments, but for the time being we can be sated by the delightful Deltarune Chapter 2.   

Isabella DiLizia is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at [email protected].