After Toby Fox made the leap from Undertale to Deltarune a lot of fans weren’t quite sure where they fell on the new entry. Was this meant to be a companion piece? A multiverse expansion? Something brand new? And this constant comparison was (somewhat) unfair to Deltarune’s first chapter. Sure, it borrowed a lot of themes, characters, and even assets from Undertale, but to its credit, Deltarune Chapter 1 introduced unique twists to the classic RPG party system, while still giving its new main characters the Toby Fox trademarked emotionally satisfying arc.
Maybe that’s why Deltarune Chapter 2 feels like a breath of relief. It’s an impressive second step from Chapter 1, introducing a number of new mechanics and combat systems, adding in the infamous Undertale genocide route, and maintaining its heartfelt and eerie story.
Deltarune Chapter 2 bucks players’ expectations from the start, making a nervous joke at the sinister closing of the last entry, and cheerfully jumping into the action as Kris, Susie, and Ralsei are off on another Dark World journey. This time the trio find themselves in A Cyber’s World, a metropolis of wires, monitors, neon lights, multi-level marketers, and the robotic villain Queenie, who’s a deightful combination of wine aunt and TikTok star. They’re also joined by two newcomers who inadvertently stumble into the Dark World in their sleep. The first is the adorable ice magic reindeer Noelle, who must be protected at all costs (both literally and figuratively). The second, Berdley, is less lovable, an officious and nerdy blue jay, who sees the adventure as a power trip opportunity.
Where Susie was the focal point of Chapter 1, Chapter 2‘s focus is much more spread between the party as characters form deeper connections, with some romantic relationships even starting to blossom. (Kudos to Fox for how continually inclusive he is to us in the LGBTQ community). And while big picture pieces start to come into play, with prophecies of towering titans and a knight who could release the apocalypse, it’s these individual character arcs that really drive the story. Susie continues to grow emotionally, leaving her gruff, cruel exterior for a slightly more patient and kind demeanor. Noelle begins to take charge of her own fate, Berdley has to confront his misplaced elitism, and Ralsei, sweet soft boy he is, finally learns sarcasm.
Or do they? That’s actually the player’s decision, as the optional genocide route mechanic has returned. Just like in Undertale, the player has the ability to eliminate enough enemies to turn this sweet journey of friendship and adventure into the start of a horror story, with its own series of secret bosses and alternative storylines. But this has a richer sense of darkness, and is admittedly harder to actively pursue because of the party system. Choosing violence here not only affects your character, but actively corrupts a sweet and kindhearted character like Noelle. And while Undertale’s genocide is certainly a brutal slog, these new stakes only further enrich the moral questions at hand.
But if making a genocide run sounds too brutal, don’t worry. Chapter 2‘s other new mechanics are all a lot more playful, though often still satisfyingly challenging. Only twenty minutes into the game, the player faces Queenie in a Mike Tyson’s Punch Out-style arcade cabinet that later returns in a climactic boss battle. There are tea cup “elevators” that require the player to dodge or collect projectiles or boosts. There’s a delightful puzzle section where you have to steer mice to frighten Noelle. And at one point, there’s even a mini boss fight that incorporates the pen and paper game Dots.
Not all these new mechanics land. Sometimes you’ll be hit for a lot of damage while having to platform the sluggish party through a hallway of angry projectile shooting paintings. In another instance the player has to catch twenty mice in a row in a surprisingly small bucket. But all these mini game moments are short enough that if something is particularly frustrating, it’s not a slog to get through it.
The combat system, on the other hand, is polished to perfection, with some of the best bullet time dodge sequences to date. Whether your heart-shaped soul is dodging flails from a gear sword or just avoiding fur balls from a digital cat, battles feel fluid and fair, though players might need multiple attempts to get the hang of attack patterns. Also upgraded for combat is the ACT system, which now extends playable character Kris’s ability to pacify enemies to the rest of the party. The healing and magic systems also feel smoother, giving more options on how to keep your party happy and healthy in the heat of battle.
And you’ll be jamming out in those battles with the return of the saucy jazz rock track “Rudebuster,” along with an almost entirely new score of delicious techno bangers. The cheerful and boppy track “Cyber Battle” pulls in Celeste’s Lena Raine for a Fresh Prince 90s sound while you break dance against a humanoid boombox. And the club style sound of “A Cyber’s World” will have you head bopping through the game as you explore the virtual emerald-shaded cityscape. Longtime fans should expect nothing less than the perfection we’ve come to anticipate with every single song from a Toby Fox production.
So what’s next for our heroes in the Dark World? It’s hard imagining having to wait another two years for what will likely be the conclusion to Deltarune, but if Chapter 2 has taught fans anything, it’s that Toby Fox and his team are working on something that is constantly improving off their previous works. We can only hope and dream that the conclusion delivers as impressively as Chapter 2.