Undertale is one of the biggest cult hits of recent years, amassing a huge following after its crowdfunded origins and PC release back in 2015.
A simple role-playing game on the surface, it has the unique hook of being able to spare and sometimes befriend enemies instead of killing them, thanks to a combat system that combines classic turn-based fighting with shoot-em-ups.
Unlike many other RPGs it's not a time sink, and thankfully so, with several different playthroughs to uncover, each yielding their own stories and secrets.
But if you were to play through once, we'd recommend sparing everyone you can in an Undertale pacifist run - which, without spoiling specifics, allows you to explore extra environments and unravel extra story details you'd otherwise miss out on.
Undertale walkthrough for a Pacifist run
Undertale can be played however you like, but playing without killing anyone or anything will unlock bonus content you otherwise wouldn't see.
At times it seems like sparing enemies - especially boss battles - is impossible, but stay determined and the payoff is worth it. The below pages walk you through each environment and enemy encounter and what you must exactly do, but in short, you must:
- Spare or peacefully deal with each enemy and boss in the game
- Date applicable characters as soon as possible
If you're playing a more neutral or even a Genocide run, the vast majority of the game's puzzles and routes are the same - so the below pages still apply.
- Undertale - Ruins explored
- Undertale - Toriel boss fight and how to spare Toriel
- Undertale - Snowdin explored
- Undertale - Papyrus boss fight and how to spare Papyrus
- Undertale - Waterfall explored
- Undertale - Undyne boss fight and how to spare Undyne
- Undertale - Hotlands explored
- Undertale - The Core explored
- Undertale - Final boss fight
- Undertale - True Laboratory explored
- Undertale - True final boss fight
Other Undertale guides and tips
Though we'd recommend playing a Pacifist run, we have pages explaining how to unlock other outcomes and unlocks:
- Undertale Genocide run explained: How to play the game in the most evil way possible
- Undertale endings explained and how to access hard mode
- Undertale Trophies list: Dog Shrine location and donations explained to unlock the Platinum Trophy
Whatever way you play, take the following advice with you. On first glance Undertale may seem like a fairly standard retro-styled RPG, but underneath the surface there's a lot of weird stuff going on. So before you plough in and start hacking away at everything you see, here's a few things to bear in mind:
- You don't have to kill anyone, and unless you're going to kill everyone you're better off without any bloodshed - not only is it the only way to experience the 'true" ending, the vast majority of your encounters with enemies are a lot easier if you leave your weapon unused.
- The game wants you to finish it. Even during its toughest moments it will be quite forgiving once you've caught on to its tricks, and it will take pity on you if you're really struggling.
- Although you can probably breeze through the game in a few hours, it's important to take your time if you want to get the full experience. Talk to everyone and look at everything - your interactions with the main characters will only give you the broad story details, and to truly get a sense of the world you're in you'll need to stop and smell the roses.
- Unlike most RPGs there's not a lot of loot to be had so you'll need to buy most of your supplies - healing items should be your priority and you should try and keep a fully stocked inventory on you as much as possible. You won't be able to sell anything until about half way through the game, but as healing items are reasonably cheap you're better off throwing away old weapons and armour in the early stages to make room rather than hanging on to them.
- If in doubt, head east!
- Once you're done, there's more to see in the game - we'd recommend that, unless you are stuck, you only delve into what else is out there once you have completed a Pacifist playthrough. Our endings page delves into some of these said secrets.
While the game does feature a combat tutorial of sorts, it very much relies on oblique hints and leaves it up to you to figure out how it actually works in practice with no real clue about what you're 'supposed' to do - so here's a run down of the basics.
You always get the initiative in fights and make the first move. During your turn, you're presented with four options:
- Fight: this causes you to attack with your current weapon. A bar will move horizontally across the screen, and the closer it is to the centre when you hit the button the more powerful your attack will be. Unless you're playing a Genocide run you should avoid this completely.
- Act: the options available here will vary depending on the enemy you're facing, but they all allow you to interact with your foes in a non-combatitive fashion. Some choices will help, others will hinder, but if you pay attention to how your enemies act the choices should be fairly obvious. If you're playing for a Pacifist run you'll be doing most of your work here.
- Item: allows you to use an item from your inventory (most likely for healing purposes).
- Mercy: allows you to Spare your foe or Flee from the fight; Spare will only be available once you've pacified enemies through the Act menu, and choosing to Flee will end the fight but you'll receive no reward.
During the enemy's turn, all the action takes place in the box below the enemy. Each has their own distinctive attack patterns, and your goal is to avoid your Heart coming into contact with anything they throw at you.
Undertale PS4 and Vita differences
Undertale came to PlayStation platforms in August 2017, and though it's the same game,, there are a few differences:
- Due to the 4:3 ratio of the original game, there are borders available, created by the game's original artist Temmie Chang. There's the pixel art Sepia, a hand-drawn Dynamic border that changes based on your area, a Simple border, and none at all.
- There is an additional border for anyone who completes hard mode (thanks to the Undertale subreddit.)
- PC specific dialogue and actions will be tweaked for the console editions.
- ">Trophies are available for both versions, including a Platinum.
- A new ">dog shrine has appeared in Papyrus 's house, which you can donate money into. Doing so enough times unlocks many of the game's Trophies.
- There is Cross-Buy support - so buying the PS4 edition will also get you access to the game on Vita, for example.
Additional reporting by Matthew Reynolds.