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ďI'd argue that the fact that the route exists is encouragement to play it in and of itself.Ē
This attitude is the very attitude that the game is criticizing
Especially the part about loving a game so much you want to see more content. Because genocide is basically burning everything you could have loved about the game to ashes just to make sure you left no stones unturned
Do you really love the game at that point or are you just DETERMINED to squeeze blood from a stone?
Since Doki Doki Literature Club was mentioned earlier, I just want to say that I donít think itís fair to say that it pretends to be a normal game - the content warnings you see on the Steam page and when the game starts make it clear that itís more than it appears, even if you donít necessarily know how.
Some of your criticisms are just bizarre.
It's entirely within the player's power if or if not they want to grind on enemies well past the point of it being fun and engaging (a design choice that quietly dissuades people from the route in and of itself) and take a very specific series of actions otherwise to play through the Genocide run. You're flat out asked to do some very blatantly amoral things and the player can back out at almost any time if they don't want to do it, living very little room for someone somehow accidentally finishing it.
The developer put it in the game because otherwise there would be no meaningful "punishment" for playing that way, and thus, no real discussion on morality, and it contrasts perfectly with how the game treats you if you opt for the Pacifist run in a way most video games do not. You can play the game relatively peacefully and enjoy a happy ending and characters who laud you as a great figure within their world, kill a few foes and get a wide range of neutral ones where the cast reacts to you in a variety of ways proportionate to how you treated them and their loved ones, or completely go off the rails and kill everyone for a negative ending where you're looked down upon and spoken ill of. Most games follow a very limited script where your choices are by and large irrelevant - you're still treated as a hero even if you slaughtered every low level mob that looks at you funny in games like Skyrim or Mass Effect as examples of games where your actions allegedly influence the game world - here you're not allowed to do that and are met with a range of consequences if you attempt to.
As far as you not enjoying the game because of its difficulty...? I'm not really sure what to say about that. I'm not particularly gifted at shoot em ups or bullet hells but I don't recall ever struggling much with the game, and even if you do you can just purchase healing items and equip items to make things easier for you. Expecting a video game to just roll over and let you finish it without putting any effort in because it's narrative heavy is more than a little silly.
Edited by Hashil on Sep 5th 2019 at 3:17:46 AM
The no mercy route offers gameplay that you'd never encounter otherwise. Music that you'd never hear otherwise. Character moments that you'd never see otherwise. If you like Undertale's gameplay, music, or writing, then yes, it absolutely makes sense to play the no mercy route, because you get more Undertale than you do if you never play that route.
It's a video game. The characters are not real; killing them all does not hurt anyone. The setting is not real; destroying it does not hurt anything. But the experience of playing it is real, and it's perfectly reasonable for someone who valued the experience they had playing the rest of the game to want to experience the no mercy route too.
This is the problem I have with acting like playing a no mercy run is a moral failing on the player's part, rather than on the character's. The player has quite literally done nothing wrong.
I'm perfectly fine with the game treating the character like an absolute bastard for systematically murdering literally everyone in the Underground. That's absolutely reasonable, and it'd be weird if the game didn't treat them that way. What I'm talking about is the game treating the player like a bastard for doing a no mercy run, such as by altering even a pacifist ending if you did a no mercy run before.
As far as difficulty goes, that's a subjective experience and some people will struggle with stuff that others have no problem with. That's why it's important to have options for adjusting the difficulty, so that people of varying abilities can play the game at a difficulty level that works for them. I found the game to be frustratingly difficult, and I enjoyed the game less as a result. Having an easy mode, or just in-game options for making things easier (like a greater amount of healing items on-hand), would have made my experience better. I don't see how that's unreasonable.
The only reason I mentioned narrative-heavy games is because there are certainly games that are focused entirely on the gameplay and where the difficulty is the point of the game, and I don't want to say that these games are bad or shouldn't exist. I just don't think that a game like Undertale is well served by that kind of attitude towards its gameplay.
It seems to me like you're missing the entire point of the genocide run. The entire point is that you willingly hunted down and killed everyone. The entire point is that you don't perceive these people as "real" so therefore the consequences you face shouldn't be real.
Like. The entire point is that you, who has control over the character, were willing to do an objectively horrible thing to these people because you could.
"You", like actual real world you, is an entity that has control over the game. And is the one that caused all of this. the game makes that abundantly clear.
As for difficulty, I really don't know what to tell you. Undertale is an easy game, and the "consequences" for losing is going back to a save point that's likely less than a few minutes away. Hell, the hardest the game gets is the Undyne and Sans fights and even then there are save points right before them.
Removing any sense of difficulty from a game nullifies the point of it being a game.
Edited by EpicBleye on Sep 5th 2019 at 5:45:21 AM
This seems to be getting a bit heated...
I understand why you feel the way you do about the game. Actually, when I first played the game, I felt the same way. In fact, I went in practically *looking* to be offended. It was only after I'd finished all three routes and taken some time to reflect that I came to realize that the game really was neither as pretentious nor as preachy as I thought it was. The things I was raging against came from inside me, not the game.
If you asked Toby Fox, the real world person, if just playing the genocide route actually made you a bad person, I'm sure he would say "no, don't be ridiculous." But the game doesn't have that luxury. It wants to build the illusion that this is a world you're interacting with. The game *cannot* cut you any slack, because from its "perspective", you really are essentially an evil god who is toying with everyone.
So what is the moral, then? ...I think it's better to come to that conclusion yourself. But in my personal interpretation, I think the major themes of Undertale are "Everyone has a reason for being the way they are, and even when you can't accept their actions, you should try to resist in the least destructive way possible" and "Be careful not to get too into something, or you could literally love it to death, leaving it a joyless, lifeless husk of what it once was."
...Incidentally, there is a way to adjust the difficulty, sort of. In Temmie Village, if you pay for college for Temmie, you can unlock an armor that activates a sort of easy mode, and the cost lowers with every time you die. It's pretty out of the way, but it exists.
Edited by Ishntknew on Sep 5th 2019 at 3:34:24 AM
that's probably the best summation of everything about this game I've ever read. it rings especially true that toby would probably say "no, playing the genocide route doesn't make you a bad person, don't be silly".
but toby is wrong
playing the genocide route absolutely makes you a bad person
an evil, horrible person
Basically, Undertale removes the convenience of the fourth wall that most video games give you. In Undertale, you, the player, are a character within the story, separate from the main character, separate from the narrator, and separate from the character possessing the main character.
You, as the player of the game, are a character within the story. Your ability to Save and Load makes you the most powerful entity in the game, and Saving and Loading the game is frequently established to not just be a hand-wave like in most games, but an actual in-universe superpower that you have, and that some other characters are aware you have. If you decide to kill everyone in the game, that makes you, the player, an evil person. If you decide to spare everyone and make friends, that makes you, the player, a good person.
Undertale is a game about immersing you, the player, in the world by literally making you a character in its narrative, and your actions have an effect on the other characters just as much as they would in the real world.
By the way, the way in which doing the Bad End corrupts the Golden Ending is that you literally sell your soul at the end of the Bad End, and it's explicitly something that the power of Saving and Loading is not strong enough to fix and reverse, even if you start over from the beginning.
not hugging the goat also makes you a bad person
Telling Undyne that anime is not real makes you a bad person. Just... the worst.
Lying to Undyne and setting her up for a major disappointment when she sees the surface for herself makes you a worse person than even that.
Maybe this is something that comes out more clearly in other routes?
The Player/Player-Character distinction is most touched on in the Genocide and Pacifist routes. In fact, the Player and the Player-Character are actually both meta-characters, and neither of them are the Child you control. The Player is you (sitting in the actual chair), and the Player-Character is the name you input at the beginning - a sort of will that makes the Child do stuff.
Either way, it just honestly sounds like the game wasn't a good fit for you, which is a shame, but it's not anyone's fault.
Actually, monsters taking more damage when their HP gets low isn't an arbitrary change for the Toriel battle— it's a consistent part of the game mechanics. Monsters are beings made of magic, and their emotional state has an effect on their in battle stats. When they're in pain and near death, they get weaker. This is reflected by their defense and attack power dropping. It's easiest to see in boss battles, so the Toriel fight is the first time anyone is likely to notice it.
And yes, the other routes do shed light on some things, including the player character. I recommend trying them out at some point if you can ever work up to it. It's hard to get a full understanding of the themes and messaging of the game without going through at least the True Pacifist route.
Edited by Ishntknew on Sep 5th 2019 at 5:39:03 AM
This is from a pages ago, but I felt that I needed to chime in:
It's starting to feel rote, particularly in the case of indie games. It's like this massive counterculture dedicated to scrutinizing the existential flaws in a video game setting.
I kind of like when the game actually makes me feel like I belong (Journey, Little Big Planet) or like my actions meant something (Skyrim, Dark Souls, of all things). Video games are supposed to be fun escapism.
Which bleakly reminds me that Undertale, as fun as it is, was part of an era where it seemed like everyone was getting off on calling out the gaming industry - for good reasons and bad ones.
First of all, videogames can mean a lot of things to a lot of different people. If "fun escapism" is how they fit into your life then that's fine and there's nothing wrong with that, but personally I think it's very reductive to say that's what videogames "should" be when they're such a new medium rife with interesting possibilities to create totally new experiences we've never had before.
I'd say that yes, there's something of a counterculture in pointing out the existential flaws in video game settings and preconceptions(and it's not new, the earliest I can think of is Planescape Torment in regards to RPG's and there's probably games that predate it with similar concepts), but I fail to see any problem with that. I can get that maybe after playing a bunch of these games you might get a little tired of it, but it isn't as if there's a drought of straightforward power fantasy games that just gas the player with no caveats either. And I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that, many of those games like Devil May Cry are tons of fun.
Rather, I just cannot relate to the idea of only wanting games that make me "feel good". Personally I think that kind of mindset is pretty much a death sentence to a lot of interesting art, whether it be games or otherwise. Many of my favorite games are the ones that asked me questions about whether what I was doing was right or not, or that tried to show me that I was acting under a false pretense.
I don't have a strong opinion on the execution of the Genocide route as of yet but I really respect the attempt, at least.
(Also I find it funny that you mention Dark Souls as a game where your actions matter given how utterly nihilistic and morally ambiguous the games tend to be.)
Edited by Draghinazzo on Sep 5th 2019 at 9:30:02 AM
Honestly, I think going in mostly blind was actually a mistake. I would have had a much better time if I'd known about stuff like the Temmie armor or how to get through the Toriel battle beforehand. Most of my frustration with the game was in trying to figure out what the win condition actually was for most of the bosses, and being "spoiled" on that would have made the entire experience much less infuriating.
Toriel might be the only encounter with that steep a change, but it's definitely a mechanic used elsewhere.
In any case, a True Ending run requires you to do a full Pacifist run (no kills at all), then reload the save after the ending and bring an item to a specific character. Then you get a bunch more content leading up to the true final boss.
It's been years now but I can feel that some of the most seething, extreme Hype Aversion I ever held finally dying off.
I appreciate the themes of this game and I'd love to give it a try one day.
For me, Undertale is less about gameplay and more of the mechanics being used for storytelling. I can't see Undertale as a typical RPG, all of it is used for storytelling, story progression. All that stuff.
As for what I heard about genocide route (I don't care about spoilers) it's a good way to show what we, us players tend to do.
I like violent games like DOOM but Undertale is something that would give me pause and I'd want to hear the monsters's stories first.
Undertale is one of a kind, isn't it?
I remember how after playing Undertale for the first (dozen) times I played some dudebro action game of cathartic hyperviolence, and all it did was engender resentment of the leads for me. I didn't know who these people were or why I was killing them. It just made me feel like an asshole.
I might appreciate the themes but any and all attempts at You Bastard! makes my eyes roll.
It's hilarious a game tries to paint me the player as such a cold, monstrous asshole when I couldn't give a shit.
Unless something like Undertale had real life consequences where for every monster killed humans die or a natural disaster occurs, I can't give a fuck. Genocide route would be unfun and boring...but hey, I do remember, I can play literally anything else (seriously, I can just play anything else if I want to do that. Same goes for wasting time and seeing literally all the game has to offer, just look elsewhere).
I appreciate the themes, the story, the characters (except sans) and everything and it's truly a rare kind of a game. The game's attempts at pinning so much at player are laughable and I'm not changing my mind on that.
Edited by Dhiruxide on Sep 6th 2019 at 10:17:35 AM
If you don't care about Undertale is saying to you then of course you're not going to like it.
You have to engage with the game if you're going to get something out of it.
To be honest, I don't really get the big complaints Genocide route for that reason. Or well, I kinda get some of them, but it isn't really a big deal IMO.
Like, of course what you're doing in the game doesn't have any real world moral impact or makes you a bad person. But that's beside the point. The game is trying to occupy a certain "meta-space" where it treats the player's actions with actual significance. The game expects you to engage it on its own terms. If you don't want to do that then it's fine, but I don't see why people take it so personally either.
And like, this doesn't mean it's free from criticism but you never have to do the Genocide route either. I can respect the artistic intention behind it but I would never play it because it's boring and I wouldn't want to do something that morally abhorrent either. But this is coming from the perspective of someone who rarely 100%s games nowadays. It has to be a game I really love in order to make me want to do that. So the fact that the route exists and I won't play it doesn't really mean anything.
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