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Videogame: Undertale

"Long ago, two races ruled over the Earth: HUMANS and MONSTERS. One day, war broke out between the two races. After a long battle, the humans were victorious. They sealed the monsters underground with a magic spell. Many years later..."

"Can you show mercy without fighting or running away...?"

Mt. Ebott 201X. Legends say those who climb the mountain never return. A small child playing in a cave trips and falls down an enormous hole. They wake up on a bed of leaves in a mysterious place.

Undertale is an RPG made by Toby Fox, planned for release by the end of 2014. A demo is available at http://undertale.com/.

Undertale draws heavily from Earthbound and Mother 3, but also plays very differently from typical RPGs. Instead of inputting a command and tanking hits, each enemy attack brings up a screen where your soul must dodge bullets, eventually becoming Bullet Hell. In each fight, you can choose to FIGHT an enemy or SPARE them.

Tropes:

  • Adult Fear: Everything Toriel does stems from her desire to protect the protagonist.
  • all lowercase letters: Napstablook, due to being depressed.
    • Also Sans.
  • All There in the Manual: Available in it are character and story information, instructions for gameplay and a note from your best friend, Flowey! Too bad someone ruined the page regarding enemy attacks, though.
  • Ambiguous Gender: The protagonist, intentionally so.
  • Arc Words: Determination.
  • Barefoot Cartoon Animal: Toriel.
  • Big Bad: Flowey.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Toriel saving you from Flowey's unavoidable attack.
  • Book Ends: The demo ends in a room identical to the second one.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick:
    Spider Bakesale down and to the right. Come eat food made by spiders, for spiders, of spiders!
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Done rather blatantly by Sans.
  • Bullet Hell: Many enemies attack with bullets. Battles can become hectic when more than one is present. Flowey would rather have you not know about this.
  • But Thou Must: Even if the player obeys Toriel's order to go back to your room or fleeing the battle, you are told to continue. Going to sleep in your room has a mysterious voice call out to you telling that the future of humans and monsters depend on you.
  • Call a Hit Point a "Smeerp": Even if it sounds like a lie at first, the game does use the term "LOVE" for LV instead of Level.
  • Catching Some Z's: Napstablook pretends to sleep by saying Z over and over out loud.
  • Cute Little Fangs: Toriel.
  • Dating Sim: The Kickstarter description implies there will be elements of this in the full game.
  • Deconstructor Fleet: Though not immediately apparent, the game is a massive Deconstruction of RPGs, both on a superficial level from sarcastic flavor text and characters as well as the deeper plot.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: All monsters except Toriel and Flowey are completely monochrome. The protagonist is the only one who's rendered fully in color aside from Flowey.
    • And then there are Sans and Papyrus, whose sprites have been revealed in a Kickstarter video.
  • The Determinator: The Player Character is one to the point that save points exist because of it. Using a save point shows that something interesting in the room makes the protagonist determined. However, going full murderer on everyone drops the fluff and the protagonist now simply is determined.
  • The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: Even the demo is chock full of secrets and has multiple endings. For instance, the first time you fight Toriel, you'll probably kill her. If you reload the save and spare her, Flowey will call you out on it, and tell you that the power of Save Scumming will soon be his.
    • Even if you do save her and go on a pacifist run, Flowey calls you out on it and says that at some point you have to kill something or quit the game, while leaving a bit of forshadowing, depending on what you did in your playthrough.
    • Even the website has a hidden message for those who try trawling the source code:
    What are you doing? Looking for secrets? Don't put your nose where it doesn't belong. Or you might learn something you DON'T like... Hee hee hee.
    • Toriel's boss fight is coded from the ground up to take in account virtually every possible outcome. In addition to the many speeches she has for every possible way to end the fight, her bullets curve out of the way and are virtually impossible to be hit by when you're low on health, as, despite her aloof and suddenly violent behavior, she still has no intention whatsoever of actually killing you. If you allow yourself to be hit by enough bullets in a volley that began when you had just enough health that she's still using potentially lethal force, it is possible to be killed, much to her horror. The sprite used is entirely unique and is unlikely to be seen unless you actively try to off yourself.
  • Earn Your Bad Ending: Getting the worst ending in the game requires significantly more effort as it requires the player to hunt down every monster in every area.. Given, any genre-savvy player running the game blind could very well do exactly that by accident.
    • Also, getting a Game Over in the Boss Battle with Toriel takes a lot of effort. You really have to be trying.
    • Earn Your Happy Ending: On the other hand, the best ending is slightly counterintuitive and requires avoiding some areas and encounters. Or just sparing or fleeing monsters.
  • The Eeyore: Napstablook.
  • Epic Fail: As described on the Funny page, should you continuously miss the Dummy, it will "get tired of your aimless shenanigans" and just float away.
  • Exact Words: "Three out of four grey rocks recommend you push them." The fourth grey rock you see isn't as much of a pushover.
  • Experience Points: No need to kill enemies for EXP. Just hurting them a bit before sparing them is fine.
    • According to Radiation in this post, he's planning on changing that so that you can only get EXP from defeating enemies.
  • Fake Trap: The corridor of spikes can't harm you because the spikes that aren't part of the correct path only act as barriers. You wouldn't realize this at first because Toriel guides you throught the path.
  • Final First Hug: If you keep Toriel alive, she hugs the protagonist before they part ways.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The page about enemy attacks in the manual is ruined... Flowey himself sabotaged it. Later he demonstrates Medium Awareness and even sends a new message in the last page.
    • One equippable item near the end is a toy knife. Picking it up isn't something a peaceful person would do...
    • Averted with Napstablook. He's played up as being somewhat important to your journey in the manual, but shows up a grand total of twice in the demo, and the second encounter is easy to miss.
    • Napstablook doesn't have a "damaged" sprite or sound effect. This is because your attacks aren't actually doing anything and he's just reducing his HP out of politeness.
    • The worst ending has Flowey stating that the protagonist was an old acquaintance of the his which hints at the nature of the protagonist.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: If Toriel accidentally kills you, her image changes to a unique sprite for a split-second before you see the game over screen.
  • Go Out with a Smile: A dark version — backstab Toriel and she'll die laughing in despair.
    • Little known to them she can go with a genuine smile after acknowledging your strength and having faith in you being a good kid. Check if unsure.
  • Gilded Cage: Toriel's Home is a lovely place to live in, but due to her extremely protective nature, she doesn't want you to leave, opting for topic-dodging, pleading, and eventually application of magical force. She will, however, not intentionally kill you, instead allowing herself to be beaten to death, or repeatedly Spared into submission.
  • Hannibal Lecture: Flowey is all too happy to call you out on the bad things you did through the game. Being peaceful instead has him wonder for how long you can keep living like that.
  • Hopeless Boss Fight: Flowey at the beginning.
  • Humanoid Abomination: The protagonist very definitely doesn't play by the rules of the world. Their attacks are undodgeable instead of bullets and saving is an actual ability the protagonist has.
  • 100% Completion: Deconstructed, sort of. Flowey will give you a Hannibal Lecture regarding this mentality if you kill Toriel after saving her.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: One of the enemies is a sentient carrot, which you can eat with a dialogue option to recover HP (once it's been weakened). They even offer diet advice, so it's hardly murder to take them up on it is it? OF COURSE IT IS! That's what makes it fun! Hee hee...
  • I Am Who?: The protagonist has the power to SAVE. This is crucial since it shows that they're not actually playing by the rules of the world. Since it is acknowledged in-universe by the Big Bad, the implications it has would be explored in the full game, possibly.
  • I Surrender, Suckers: A particularly cruel way of dispatching Toriel. In her final moments, she lets out a despaired laugh, and says you're going to fit in with the monsters outside just fine .
  • Kill Them All: The characters you meet as random encounters aren't infinite. If you keep killing, even a NPC will disappear and...
  • Kleptomaniac Hero Found Underwear: "Scandalous! It's Toriel's sock drawer."
  • Knife Nut: The protagonist, if you feel like it.
  • Leave Your Quest Test: Toriel's home. She's honestly trying to help you, though.
    • Ends up being a But Thou Must since you have to leave to end the demo.
  • Leitmotif: Toriel has one, "Fallen Down".
  • Level Drain: Downplayed by Napstablook. "Killing" him drops your XP by one.
  • Meaningful Name: Sans' speech is indeed sans-serifs, and no points for guessing Papyrus' font.
  • Mercy Rewarded: The outcome of the game, and the dialogue towards the player, is more positive if you do not use lethal force. Ignore this, and the game will repeatedly and mercilessly chastise you.
    • However, you can't gain any experience points just by sparing enemies. You need to kill or at the very least damage them if you want to level up.
    • Particularly, a Pacifist Run will not only net you a more positive ending but add an additional scene to the ending screen that foreshadows the existence of two future characters.
  • Mini-Boss: Napstablook.
  • Mood Whiplash: The opening battle with Flowey goes from sickeningly cutsey to absolutely terrifying in the span of a few seconds.
    • The ending to the demo is also much darker than the silly, tongue-in-cheek atmosphere of the rest of the game up to that point.
  • Multiple Endings: Depending on your actions in game, this will change, including if you spared or killed Toriel (and also how you killed her), if you killed every enemy, and if you've played the game more than once. This also changes the final page of the instruction manual, depending on your ending.
  • My Beloved Smother: Toriel.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Many players kill Toriel on accident because while trying to only weaken her, even a weak hit suddenly does 10 times more damage. Bonus points if you were going for a pacifist, near-pacifist or neutral run.
    • Toriel herself has this reaction if she accidentally kills you.
  • Mythology Gag: The track "Fallen Down" was one of Toby Fox's contributions to I Miss You, an album of tracks made with EarthBound's soundfont back in 2011-2012.
  • Never Say "Die": Averted.
  • New Game+: The game keeps track of various stats and uses them to alter the dialogue on subsequent playthroughs. Specifically, the demo tracks the number of times you've done the opening encounter with Flowey and the number of times you've either killed or spared Toriel at the end.
  • Nice Hat: Napstablook cries himself one.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: The taunt Flowey leaves in your instruction manual if you kill Toriel is a brutal You Bastard moment, but it also hints at the way to save her.
    YOU DIDN'T EVEN TRY TO SPARE HER DID YOU?
  • Nightmare Face: Flowey can shapeshift his face into monstrous forms or a mockery of Toriel's face.
  • No Kill Like Overkill: If you've defeated all the random encounters, the final battle with Toriel is over very quickly. At a time when the most damage you've done up to that point is around 30, attacking Toriel will deal about 22,000. The same will happen if you deliver the cheap shot as described in I Surrender, Suckers.
  • Non-Action Guy: Most enemies in the demo aren't aggressive and some of them are very easy to SPARE. It's implied this is very atypical of the Underground.
  • Not So Different: Toriel tells you this if you betray her while seemingly not wanting to fight. Kill her three times and Flowey mockingly says you're like him. Kill everyone and he does the same, but in a respectful tone.
  • Not So Stoic: The stoicism is obviously put-upon from the start, though. In the Boss Battle with Toriel, they consistently act cold and aloof, but will display a sudden expression of shock and horror if they accidentally kill you.
  • Oedipus Complex: It is possible to call Toriel "Mom" and then flirt with her. She will take note of this.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: You can kill everyone in the game. The Player Character seems proud of it if it does happen...
  • Pacifist Run: Entirely possible to do in the demo.
  • Peer Pressure Makes You Evil: One enemy type only attacks while it has allies present, but acts like itself (A carefree dancer) once they're gone.
  • Playing with Fire: Toriel.
    • Personality Powers: Played with. She isn't hotheaded, impulsive, or violent, the typical personality traits associated with Playing with Fire. She instead embodies the concept of an enduring, nurturing flame — light, life, and warmth rather than chaos and destruction.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: Oh yeah, spare Toriel in the end but kill some other monsters on the way there? Flowey calls you out on it.
  • Punny Name: Toriel, short for tutorial.
  • Random Encounters: They run out eventually.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Dark Red, actually. Seen on Toriel's in-battle sprite when she scares off Froggit.
  • Room Full of Crazy: The manual after the worst ending.
  • Save Scumming: Characters in the game will react if you save and go back to previous events. Going back after killing Toriel and saving her reveals Flowey is able to do this as well, or was able to until you came along.
    • Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory: You have one, but closer examination reveals Flowey does as well. Continuing to repeat the opening sequence has him grow more and more angry at you.
    • Your character actually considers telling Toriel they killed her last time if you use the "Talk" option on Toriel after reloading. You wisely think better of it on the basis it could make for an awkward conversation.
  • Sequel Hook: Well, more like full game hook, considering it's only a demo. Beyond the actual warning Toriel gives at the end, going back after killing her once and sparing her after shows Flowey has Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory and that saving is an actual ability that you both have.
  • Sheathe Your Sword: All battles can be won by "sparing" enemies instead of attacking them, though you may have to perform special actions first.
    • In particular, to save Toriel you have to keep using Spare over and over, rather than attack, even when it doesn't look like it's having any effect.
  • Shout-Out: Possibly. Toriel's overworld sprite looks much like a Mimiga.
  • Silent Protagonist: However, the protagonist does speak in the Kill 'em All route. For example, looking at a mirror now results in "It's me" instead of "It's you".
  • Skippable Boss: A twisted form appears with Toriel — do nothing but attack twice in a row you'll hit her For Massive Damage, with an added dose of You Bastard for being so relentlessly violent.
  • The Social Darwinist: "Kill or be killed" is stated to be the guiding philosophy underground. Even Toriel believes in it, which is part of why she's so protective. If you repeatedly spare her, she eventually starts screaming, "What are you doing? Attack or run away!" If you persist, though, you prove it wrong. For now.
  • Soul Power: Enemies directly attack your soul.
  • Spikes of Doom: Early on the story, one puzzle is a field of spike panels. Toriel holds your hand through the right path out of concern, but if you go back afterwards, you'll realize the panels are harmless.
  • Stealth Pun/Visual Pun: Toriel is a anthropomorphic she-goat and acts as a substitute mother figure for the player. In other words she is a literal nanny goat.
  • Strength Equals Worthiness: Toriel says she'll only let you out of the ruins if you prove you're strong enough to defeat her. Justified, seeing as she's seen many children die due to being too weak to survive and doesn't want to make the same mistake again.
  • Swiss Army Tears: Napstablook can both attack and form clothing with his tears.
  • Talk to the Fist: In the most violent route you can interrupt Toriel's pre-battle speech.
  • Trickster Mentor: Flowey is set up as this early, but digging deeper shows that he's much more outright malevolent and is an actual Reality Warper.
  • Tsundere: "Ah, the cactus. Truly the most tsundere of plants."
  • Unwinnable by Design: Minor example. Selecting anything other than "cheer" after Napstablook cries himself a hat will prevent you from ending the encounter nonviolently. (Yes, even "spare".) You can't even flee afterwards.
    • Fortunately, however, this does not lock you out of the Pacifist Run ending, as Napstablook doesn't register as a kill if you reduce his HP to 0.
  • Verbal Backspace: If you dodge Flowey's "Friendliness Pellets" twice, he orders you to run into his bullets already, then glances at his speech bubble and corrects himself.
    • He also does this in the Kickstarter video, mentioning that you can "murder" monsters before hastily retyping it as "fight".
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: "Killing" Napstablook will earn you a negative experience point.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Flowey gets really petty and unhappy if you're in a pacifist ending, and if you dodge his, ahem, "friendliness pellets" in the opening he goes increasingly pissed until he just does his failed unavoidable attack, realizing that yyou guessed at what his deal was.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: Et tu, Toriel? Subverted in that the attacks will start evading you when you're low on health, but played straight in that you really have to make an effort to spare her.
  • We Can Rule Together: In the worst ending, Flowey implies the player character is an old acquaintance of his and asks for assistance in destroying the world.
    "THAT'S A WONDERFUL IDEA"
  • Wham Line:
    Toriel: …wait. …why are you looking at me like that? Like you have seen a ghost. Do you know something that I do not? No… That is impossible.
    • The first thing you hear from Flowey indicating that he remembers your past playthroughs. Depending on the ending you get, there are several pieces of dialogue that could end up being this.
    • Also:
    Flowey: You naive idiot. Do you think you are the only one with that power? The power to reshape the world… Purely by your own determination. The ability to play God! The ability to "SAVE."
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: And how.. Killing any enemies while saving Toriel will result in a massive Player Punch later on.
    Flowey: "So you were able to play by your own rules. You spared the life of a single person. [lists off each monster] Think about those names. Do you think those monsters had friends? Do you think they had families? Each one could have been someone else's Toriel. Selfish brat. Someone is dead because of you."
  • What the Hell, Player?: Taking too much candy from the candy bowl results in this.
    • The worst endings with Toriel and Flowey's speeches also qualify.
  • X Meets Y: Mother 3 meets Touhou meets Shin Megami Tensei meets Spec Ops: The Line.
  • You Bastard: The game repeatedly tries to invoke this against the player for taking violent options. Both implicitly, with plenty of Videogame Caring Potential and Player Punches, and explicitly in Flowey's speeches after the encounter with Toriel.

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