Undertale

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What can Undertale teach about pacifism in the real world?

Much has been made of how innovative Undertale is for providing players with the opportunity to resolve fights peacefully, without killing any opponents–and, in fact, even seems to punish players for being too eager to kill. However, winning fights without killing is not necessarily easy, and frequently requires players to take a large amount of damage. Indeed, message boards and blogs are full of stories about how virtually nobody can avoid killing all the characters on the first go. What, if anything, could a game like this teach about how to resolve problems in real life? Can you think of any situations where you might be putting yourself in harm’s way by being peaceful?

  • I wrote an essay on Undertale in my first year of uni, particularly on player agency, and I find that it's a really compelling game to write about.I'd suggest thinking not only about the game's unique take on pacifism over violence, but how it gives you that choice again and again and what this means for real-life interactions with people. Additionally, in terms of how Undertale might teach us how to resolve problems, there is always more to someone than initially meets the eye. Every character in Undertale has a story and has their own background and motivations. There might be an interesting parallel to be made with how we treat others in this day and age. – sofiarbarr 1 year ago
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Undertale: Just One Big Inside Joke?

Undertale is a game that has exploded to absurd levels of internet popularity since its release in September of 2015, especially considering that the entirety of the game was created by one man, Toby Fox. Playing it myself, I absolutely loved the game–its mechanics, the writing, and the story as a whole. However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I may have only liked it because of all the parallels and references the game made to other games and game genres. In other words, I’m not sure I would ever recommend Undertale to someone who has not already played a lot of video games.

I have lots of questions surrounding this topic. Is Undertale only good because of all of its in-jokes? As far as it relates to modern internet humor, that seems to be an essential part of that brand of humor nowadays. Is it a good/bad/neutral thing that this extremely compelling video game is really only accessible to a seasoned gamer? Are there other game genres that are ripe for the type of commentary and inside jokes that Undertale pulled on the RPG genre? Can anyone come up with an idea for a game to poke fun at another genre of game?

  • Interesting idea! I also loved Undertale, but I am not a huge gamer and I didn't get many (if any) of the major game references. So I wouldn't say that is the *only* reason the game is good. I personally loved it for it's exploration of the whole concept of games (which I suppose ties in to the "making a joke at the expense of games" idea), and the story as a whole. Perhaps, though, this article could still use the concept of the "in-jokes" as examining different ways that the game has been or could be appreciated. E.g. some people love the story, some the in-jokes, some the art. Or discussing the idea of Undertale as a parody of games, instead of making it out to be the only reason the game is good. – Mariel Tishma 4 years ago
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  • I suppose the question I'd have to ask is whether or not deconstuction is, by its very nature, an inside joke. Undertale isn't all that heavy on direct references, but it does rely heavily on leaning against preconceived notions of how video games, JRPGs in particular, work. It is, in a way, a conversation about how we play games in game form. That said, like many conversations, it can be hard to participate if you have no context on the subject matter. This is certainly a limitation, but I suppose the question then is if that limitation is so dire as to reduce the value of the work as a whole. – John Wells 4 years ago
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Is Undertale Overrated?

The game Undertale is quickly rising in popularity in the gaming community. It’s been promoted by many well known youtube game play content creators such as Sky William, Videogamedunkey and GameGrumps. It has been acclaimed as hilarious, cute, emotionally moving and beautifully designed. How does Undertale stack up to previous 2-D "RPG"s? What is it that truly sets it apart as unique? Perhaps the buzz around it’s release isn’t because it’s the best of it’s genre, but that Undertale just breaks the mold of other video games currently being released? Does Undertale deserve it’s reputation?

  • If you are a human being with a soul, and you regularly succumb to "the feel?" Then yes, it does deserve it's reputation. Simply put, "Undertale" intentionally appeals to both men and women of any number of gender and sexual orientations, due to its gender neutral main character, and the numerous relationships that blossom before your eyes as you go through the game: more than half of which are what we would consider homosexual in nature. It's a game that includes tropes and gags reminiscent of anime and manga: jokes that only a youth culture now familiar with Japanese humor could appreciate. Along with that, it is a virtual meme production machine, allowing any number of people to take numerous memorable screen shots and make up their own gags from them, not to mention an overabundance of fan-art. Basically, it's popularity on Tumblr is likely by no accident, as it is a game almost perfectly designed to cater to that crowd, and their sensibilities. I can't speak exactly for how it differs or improves on ideas and mechanics used in other similar 2D RPGs. But I don't think it's popularity really has anything to do with its game play, other than the fact that you are encouraged to be a pacifist rather than fight and kill all of your "enemy encounters." It's likely so popular because it appeals to an audience that loves everything this game has to offer as far as its characters, its story, and its romantic situations are concerned. No other game has achieved what this game has in those specific areas, and no other game that I know of has included more gay relationships than it has straight, because at this time, only an independent game by an independent developer is comfortable and courageous enough to design their game that way. For me personally, I love this game, not for the gameplay, but for the story. If I could have just read a comic book about it, or watched an animated video about it all, I may have preferred that. But, putting this all into a game makes the experience perhaps more rewarding, because you required to beat the difficult parts of the game in order to see how this incredibly well-conceived story continues, and how all your new monster buddies turn out in the end. Sure you can watch the cut-scenes on youtube these days. If you want the most out of it, though, then you'll play the game entirely by yourself, and experience it as it was intended. So yes, it deserves every accolade that it gets, because there's nothing else like it, and there might not be another for a little while still. – Jonathan Leiter 5 years ago
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  • With all that I previously said, what I really meant to respond with was: No, it is by all means "not" overrated. If anything, it is still rather underrated by the rest of the gaming community who has yet to play it, and truly understand how enjoyable it is. Because I imagine there are still some reluctant people who have yet to try it themselves, and who may be convinced that what they see filling their Tumblr feeds is more annoying than enticing. lol – Jonathan Leiter 5 years ago
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  • Lol I am glad you are so motivated to express yourself about Undertale, and so strongly. I haven't played it personally, just watched commentaries and gameplay videos. It looks really interesting but I found it surprising no one has anything negative to say. I hope someone like you takes this topic and writes something really moving about Undertale with it! – Slaidey 5 years ago
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  • This could take a lot of research into demographics and the liking. I very much consider myself a gamer and an avid fan of YouTube, yet I've never heard of this game. Mind you, I rarely mix the two. I don't watch Let's Plays and such. – Austin Bender 5 years ago
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  • I think one of the more interesting aspects of Undertale is that it knows it's a game. During replays, or if you go back to another save to make a different choice, certain characters know what you did and will comment on it. That fact it's programmed to be self-aware is an interesting thing to bring to the gaming industry. – tateltael 5 years ago
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  • I think it's very important to know that the sort of moral choice present in Undertale has been done before and I would argue better executed in Indie Games like Iji. I think part of the reason Undertale has become such a runnaway success is partly due to changing winds in interests on Tumblr, and partly due to Toby Fox's placement in Homestuck fandom. Which isn't to say that the game isn't good, but its meteoric rise in popularity is not indicative of its quality. Similarly many members Undertale's have not actually played the game and only know it from lets plays. – MattHotaling 5 years ago
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Undertale vs. Mass Effect

Both games incorporate a triple-tiered karma mechanic. What is effective about the approach taken by Undertale, the up-and-coming indie game, and what is effective about the approach taken by Mass Effect, the mega-million dollar franchise? Dozens of other games have written this feature in the past. What prospects does the karma meter have in the future of adventure gaming?

  • Mass Effect is one of the best RPG games there is and i dont know if any game can compare to it – aasteriou 5 years ago
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  • Definitely an interesting topic to think about. Though, the similarities between the karma meters are very slim, especially in the way they're incorporated into the gameplay. – rhainley 5 years ago
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