Out of anyone, I'm glad we randomly encountered all of you.
Ralsei flattering his opponents
Encounters are battles against enemies that often happen in predetermined locations. Encounters in Deltarune are often initiated when Kris makes contact with an alerted enemy in the overworld; this is signified by the enemy playing its hurt animation shortly before the battle begins. As enemy sprites are visible in the overworld, it is possible to run away from them (default key "X"), preventing an encounter. This does not apply to bosses, however.
While the battle system is similar to the battle system of Undertale and other RPGs, there are major differences in both visuals and mechanics, with the most prominent features being that the battle happens in an overhead perspective and the presence of additional party members, respectively.
During an encounter, there are several key features present, such as the names and icons of the party members, their current HP, and finally, the options FIGHT, ACT, and ITEM from Undertale (the fourth option, MERCY, is replaced by SPARE), which are joined by new ones including MAGIC and DEFEND.
While it is usually static and in a square shape, during King's and Jevil's boss fights the box can be enlarged and moved around. In four of the King's attacks, the box may be dragged up and down, pulled by his chain, or bounced around a white outer box. In Jevil's "final chaos," the board enlarges to take up the entire screen, with the game's window itself becoming the border.
The bullet board in Deltarune is square with a green border, which contrasts the white rectangle in Undertale.
First and foremost, several party members are controlled rather than a single member, meaning that each party member gets a chance to perform their turn. Kris is always the first party member to spend their turn. Because of this, more actions can be performed in the same turn, and can even cause an outcome as early as the first turn, as the party always begins their turn before the enemy.
At the bottom of the screen, text (and occasionally a character's face when they are speaking) displays.
- Once an encounter starts, flavor text that reflects on the nature of the encounter (e.g. "Rudinn and Hathy blocked the way!") displays.
- After the first turn, the flavor text usually describes one of the enemies in battle, which may change depending on the ACT options the party has chosen.
- The flavor text can also describe a party member's actions whether it is from doing ACTs, or as a story element.
Though FIGHTing is unnecessary in this world...
There's no harm in a thorough lesson!
A party member is prompted to select an enemy to deal damage to it. A party member can only attack one enemy per turn.
Susie automatically fights whenever she is part of the party over the majority of the game and cannot be ordered to use other commands. However, upon reaching a certain point in the chapter when Susie finally joins the party for real, Susie can be prompted other commands like the other party members.
- Once the FIGHT option is selected, a quick-time event occurs. A cursor slides across a meter from right to left. By pressing Z anytime the cursor is within the meter, the party member successfully attacks the enemy; otherwise it results in a miss. Hitting "Z" on the box located on the leftmost area of the meter deals the most damage, which emphasizes proper timing.
- If an enemy's HP is reduced to zero, the enemy flees the battle. This always happens, therefore EXP cannot be earned at all.
ACTing! Through this, even the most violent enemies...
Can be defeated through various ACTs of kindness!
This command is exclusive to Kris. Kris is prompted to select an enemy, and is then given one or more ACT options.
- Kris can Check any enemy in an encounter to know its name, ATK and DF stats, and extra flavor text about the enemy. If Susie is checked, her HP is revealed as well, along with her ATK and DF stats that are identical before she joined with Lancer.
- ACTing is the primary means of resolving a fight peacefully.
- Certain ACTs require both Kris and another party member (rarely, all of them) to perform, spending their turns. However, these party ACTs are often better than ACTs done by Kris alone.
- Kris and Ralsei can Warn all enemies to prevent Susie from defeating them, as all her attacks miss; this is crucial if all encounters are desired to be ended peacefully.
An enemy can be spared if their name is colored yellow.
The big orange TP bar on the left filled up a bit!
How about spending that TP on one of my SPELLs?
This command is exclusive to Ralsei and Susie. With enough TP, a party member can cast a Spell that can either harm/spare the enemy or benefit the party.
- Susie's spells are purely offensive and deals great damage to an enemy.
- Ralsei's spells are twofold: healing the party or sparing an enemy if they are Tired.
You really want to learn about ITEMS, Kris...? OK, I'll teach you!
You use them, and something happens...is that sufficient?
Using consumable items restore HP (or revive a downed party member), either to a single party member or the entire party. Some items restore more HP in an encounter, encouraging their use in such situations.
- Some items have other effects, such as the Glowshard's use to make a Rudinn spareable.
If we SPARE all the enemies we meet, we'll never have to FIGHT!
Sparing an enemy means that the fight is resolved peacefully. Due to the party member mechanics, it is possible to ACT and Spare an enemy on the same turn.
- An enemy can be removed from the battle with this option, if their name is colored yellow, and a star appears beside their name. Otherwise, the text mentions that the Spare condition is not met and the enemy sprite glows yellow briefly.
- An alternate means to Spare an opponent is Ralsei's Pacify Spell as long as the enemy is tired after performing certain ACTs or items. The enemy's name becomes colored blue if enemy is tired. Both colors can appear in the enemy's name as a gradient if the enemy can be spared either normally or with Ralsei's magic.
- In Undertale, "Spare" was a sub-option of the MERCY command.
Simply DEFEND, and the enemy's attack will hurt you less...
Not only that, but you'll also gather TP!
A party member is prompted to protect themselves during the enemy's turn, reducing damage and gaining 16 TP immediately once commanded. Defending is the primary means of gathering TP, crucial for casting Spells. This command is preferred if a party member has no better option and the encounter is desired to be ended peacefully. Remaining TP at the end of a battle is also transferred into D$ as the battle's rewards, allowing any allies' turns to give D$ after a successful outcome of the battle becomes guaranteed.
The enemy may speak prior to attacking; the dialogue can be skipped by pressing the X key then Z. It's also at this phase where the enemy chooses which party members to attack (represented by text in the form of TARGET found on the top left of the party member.)
Kris's SOUL is placed in the Bullet Board, and the enemies attempts to attack it. However, if the SOUL gets hit, the attack harms other party members as well if the enemy chose to target them. Attacks vary on each enemy, ranging from projectiles launched to the enemy themselves entering the Bullet Board. Enemy attacks may overlap if there are multiple enemies faced.
An enemy's turn can be shortened by getting close to enemy bullets with the SOUL while not being hit by them. This strategy is called "grazing" in bullet hell games, and while it earns TP for casting of Spells, not all enemies can have their turn shortened.
An encounter may have two outcomes:
All enemies are removed from the battle, either through peaceful or violent means. Dark Dollars are rewarded depending on the enemy (or enemies) fought, and the amount of extra TP left. EXP is mentioned as well, but over the course of Chapter 1, no EXP is gained at all.
HP of all party members reaches zero. At this point, a game over happens and a prompt appears to continue the game or not. If choosing to continue the game, the game loads to the last SAVE point before the encounter, while a certain voice (same one when naming the vessel) mentions that the future is in the player's hands. Otherwise, the same voice mentions that the world is covered in darkness, then the game reverts to a black screen, playing the track "Darkness Falls."
Notably, the option to flee within a battle is absent. However, it is possible to outrun approaching enemies when outside of a battle by running (default key "X").
There are currently three Status Effects that affect the participants directly in a battle.
An enemy in this state can be spared through Ralsei's Pacify Spell, removing them in the battle.
The Tired state is caused by most ACTs and, for some enemies, reading Ralsei's Manual.
An enemy in this state is asleep and therefore cannot act until they are defeated or otherwise wake up after a few turns. Similar to the Tired status effect, Ralsei can perform the Pacify spell on them.
The Sleepy state is caused by Kris ordering Ralsei to sing a lullaby, and it only affects Ponman and Susie (both as an ally and as an enemy).
Susie's attacks against a Warned enemy miss until the battle is over. Essential if the battle is desired to be won peacefully.
The Warned state is caused by Kris and Ralsei warning all enemies through an ACT. Not all enemies can be warned, however.