I got the chance to play Undertale this week with my girlfriend. According to her, I have lived under a rock because I am one of the few people who is not familiar with Undertale.
For those who are also on the same boat as me, Undertale is an RPG-style game with a unique combat system. Players can choose how they interact with the mobs whether that be through fighting, sparing, or even flirting with them. The narration considers these choices as the story progresses. This form of battle is very different from the traditional attack and destroy style of other RPGs. In addition to this feature, Undertale follows a lost child who has fallen underground. The goal is to explore the world and escape.
Without knowing all that, I launched the game and was met with a seemingly cute flower (needless to say, I now have trust issues ;-;). The change of music and expression of the flower was enough to make me skeptical of the subsequent characters, especially Toriel because she seemed too nice. Since I was new to the game, I took the advice of the signs and characters seriously. One of the first tips was from Froggit who told me to spare when I can. While I wasn’t attempting to achieve the True Pacifist achievement, I always attempted to flee or interact with monsters before I chose to fight. I am glad I followed this advice. It really helped me come to appreciate and relate to the characters in the game. I fell in love with the quirky and unique personalities of each monster I encountered, especially Sans, Papyrus, Napstablook, and Greater Dog.
One of the things I enjoyed about Undertale was the humor. The game is full of jokes and puns that is hilarious when paired with the music. In conversation with this reading about rhetorics, Undertale does an excellent job of utilizing it to create an immersive experience. The rhetoric of emotion and choice allows for the players to feel the impact of their actions by creating multiple endings and relationships with the characters. They use these elements to convey serious topics as well. For example, I played the thundersnail race with Napstablook. The first time I played it I spammed the ‘z’ key to encourage my snail, and they caught on fire due to the pressure to succeed. After several attempts to beat the race, I learned that steady encouragement was the only way to win. While the game did not directly say it, it showed the importance of patience and steady effort is essential to success. In giving the player a choice to not battle, the game bends the genre of typical fighting games and shows that there are options other than violence.
I also found it interesting how different the experience was for me and my girlfriend (who has heard about Undertale through the internet over the years). She was less surprised and amused about some of the gameplay because she had already heard about it through media. While she enjoyed our playthrough, I felt like I was able to experience the game in a different way than she could. That also made me question the replayability of the game. While there are different endings, the experience of interacting with the game for the first time is gone. This also makes me wonder how social media can influence the experience of a game and the joy of discovery especially with popular games.
Overall, I am obsessed with Undertale. I can see why it has such a huge fandom and I am looking forward to finishing the game really soon!
Hi Phuc! I loved all the images in your post. I also appreciate your analysis on the replayability of the game, and also how everyone’s experience is different based on previous perceptions of the game. I do agree that the first-time charm of playing a game can be loss for Undertale, but I feel like there is enough content to play it maybe 2-3 times with a unique experience each time, which I think is very cool!
Hi Phuc, loved reading about your first experience! I can definitely relate to a lot of what you felt and thought, as it was my first experience playing the game too without knowing much about the game at all beforehand. Once Flowey broke my trust, I also had a very hard time believing that Toriel did not have some evil ulterior motive. I also definitely agree that one of the best parts of the game for me was its unique, wacky humor and tone that is not typically associated with RPGs.