Spoilers ahead for the videogame Undertale. Please, if you’re capable of playing this gem of a game, do it!
So there’s this game called Undertale, created by Toby Fox. In it, you play a young child that falls into a cavern with one way out. Unfortunately for you, this cavern is where humanity has trapped monsters. You see, long ago there was a war between humans and monsters, the monsters lost, and while humans soak up the rays of the sun, monsters have been trapped below ground, for all eternity.
You just happen to be one of the few humans over time who have fallen into the caverns.
You stumble upon a kindly monster, who offers to take care of you and feed you delicious pies. She, and some other monsters, explains to you that you will encounter monsters who rightfully want to destroy a human. They have been raised to believe that the magic barrier that traps them where they are exists because of humans like you.
Some of them are resigned to their fate underground, because if they rise to the surface, they believe that humans will kill them anyway. They’re right, in a way, but you don’t want war with them.
A monster tells you that even though some monsters want to fight you, there are ways to come to a common understanding. But there will be times where you will have to face their anger, and accept it, longer than you may expect to. You may have to tell them that you are not a threat, again and again, before they believe you.
Undertale does not tell you what kind of game it is. You tell it what kind of player you are. After being told that you can spare a monster, you can chose whether or not you fight them.
It’s confusing for many players, their first time playing Undertale. After decades of videogames teaching players that in order to win, they must destroy their opponents, Undertale gently suggests you take a different route. The suggestion is so quiet, however, so unnatural, that many players disregard it, and the game works accordingly. Your character gets stronger overtime. Your interactions with characters are normal, but every now and then, you’re reminded of characters you’ve killed, the things you’ve done for your own selfish reasons. In some neutral spaces, monsters will ask if you’ve seen their friend who went missing. They will mourn their friends and be left feeling lonely or abandoned if they lose touch with each other. Right up until the very end, you’re reminded of what you’ve done. You may have not intended the harm you committed, but you did it, and they are changed forever.
You never have to kill a single soul in Undertale. You have to listen to monsters, hug them, unhug them, ditch them, laugh at their jokes, tell them they’re going to be okay, flirt with them, flex your biceps, laugh about tv shows, relate to them, all in an effort to be peaceful. In the process, you will be hurt, you will have to persevere, you will have to be patient. After enough tries, monsters will resist the urge to fight you. You can coexist together peacefully. You will end the game feeling fulfilled, feeling closure, and having gained the ability to bring freedom to everyone, with everyone’s support. The game is also hilarious, and is funnier if played this way.
If you decide to kill in Undertale, in fact, if you decide to treat every monster as a threat, and chose to eradicate them all, you will be treated like the dangerous human you are. The world literally changes around you, the music darker and ominous. Monsters will warn each other about you, run away, vacate cities, and some of them will decide to fight you with everything they have left. The game is actually harder if you take this route, although it will seem easy at first. They will wish for your demise so that monsters can prevail over humanity, and they will wish for what humans have, to exist in the sun, without a single human around to threaten that peace. Some will stand up to you to your face, tell you that you deserve to burn in hell, and you will be taken as someone, or something, who cares for nothing.
And they’d be right to think that about you.
And as a character that doesn’t speak, how you behave in this game says everything there is to know about you.
Why was I thinking of this?