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✿✿✿ Thread for talking about Undertale ✿✿✿

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I recently played Everybody's Gone to the Rapture and it left me pretty cold. It was extremely pretty but it had pretty much no video game in it. It was a "Walking Simulator" at its worst. However, Undertale manages to be both cutesy and non-violent (depending on your choices) AND an actual freakin' video game. Like, there are save points and items and timed attacks and game over screens and actual SKILL-BASED CHALLENGE and all those video gamey video game things you crave. The way the game accomplishes this is actually very simple. If you want to be non-violent, then basically you have to skillfully dodge enemy attacks (by controlling an on-screen avatar in real-time) until you can find a way to talk your enemy down or whatever. It's like being a hostage negotiator while the person you're negotiating with is constantly firing at you. It's great. I love it. I went into this expecting an RPG with all the battle systems thrown out and instead I got something that actually innovates on those systems. If you liked the timing-based attack/defense in games like the Mario RPGs then you'll love this game.

While I really do think this is a great game (absolutely worth your time and $10), it does have some flaws. It relies a bit too much on internet references and memes (things get "glomped," there's a Napster joke, and so on). I kinda wished it played more with mainstream pop culture like Earthbound does (think Beatles references). Also, towards the end the game seems a little too in love with its own lore and as a result the story becomes needlessly confusing (

the true antagonist turns out to be a person that looks like the protagonist and it all just comes off like a cliched "evil twin" twist, IMO

).

Anyway, please discuss why the Hot Fridge is the world's greatest invention.

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It's actually more like the true antagonist is the the personification of violence, using the main character's body and you to do their dirty work.

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It's actually more like the true antagonist is the the personification of violence, using the main character's body and you to do their dirty work.

The problem (from a storytelling perspective) is that when you have to come up with abstract explanations like that, you just draw attention away from your "A" story to focus on your backstory. You pull the player out of the main story and throw them into a space with "characters" that they don't know and don't care about. It makes even less sense when you have a perfectly suitable antagonist already (

Flowey was already a "personification of violence." Asriel could have been a completely separate character, IMO

).

I mentioned this in another thread, but I think the reason that The Force Awakens is doing so much better than the prequels is that it doesn't throw you out of the main story into the backstory. For example, it doesn't try to explain something like midichlorians because that would only serve to distract from the characters you've already come to care about without adding that much or making the story any more fun.

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I keeping seeing screenshots, clips, and let's plays of this game, and it looks like I'd enjoy the humor of it quite a lot, but the gameplay and the art don't really appeal to me.

It's one of those games that I feel like if I bought it, I'd just end up playing something else, and I'd feel guilty that I've only played it for twenty minutes.

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It's actually more like the true antagonist is the the personification of violence, using the main character's body and you to do their dirty work.

The problem (from a storytelling perspective) is that when you have to come up with abstract explanations like that, you just draw attention away from your "A" story to focus on your backstory. You pull the player out of the main story and throw them into a space with "characters" that they don't know and don't care about. It makes even less sense when you have a perfectly suitable antagonist already (

Flowey was already a "personification of violence." Asriel could have been a completely separate character, IMO

).

I mentioned this in another thread, but I think the reason that The Force Awakens is doing so much better than the prequels is that it doesn't throw you out of the main story into the backstory. For example, it doesn't try to explain something like midichlorians because that would only serve to distract from the characters you've already come to care about without adding that much or making the story any more fun.

I agree with this in terms of on-screen storytelling. It was one of the things I complained about re: the Biggs and Wedge segments in FF8 for example.

Not even backstory, but just the skipping around and inability to stick with a single, consistent storyline and a single character or group of characters who the story is definitely about and serve as the thread that ties the whole thing together. One of the reasons the Star Wars prequels were so bad is that the "stories" in them are not ABOUT anything/anyone in particular. It's a story of sorts the same way your history book is a story. It tells you about events, but it skips around, it's boring, and it's very hard to make yourself care. Meanwhile, the new Star Wars actually sticks closer to a single character / group of characters and their particular problem. There are other things happening, but they are sort of backgrounded. It's not like a bunch of different storylines competing for attention and none of them quite getting it.

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I keeping seeing screenshots, clips, and let's plays of this game, and it looks like I'd enjoy the humor of it quite a lot, but the gameplay and the art don't really appeal to me.

It's one of those games that I feel like if I bought it, I'd just end up playing something else, and I'd feel guilty that I've only played it for twenty minutes.

It's NES-quality art, but it's very well done for what it is. There are lots of unique character designs and the majority are very creative and interesting to look at. The gameplay is fun and appropriately modernized. Lots of save points and mostly optional backtracking. If you can maintain your attention span for long enough to get out of the first area, you'll probably be hooked. I played it for 14 hours over the course of two days.

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It's actually more like the true antagonist is the the personification of violence, using the main character's body and you to do their dirty work.

The problem (from a storytelling perspective) is that when you have to come up with abstract explanations like that, you just draw attention away from your "A" story to focus on your backstory. You pull the player out of the main story and throw them into a space with "characters" that they don't know and don't care about. It makes even less sense when you have a perfectly suitable antagonist already (

Flowey was already a "personification of violence." Asriel could have been a completely separate character, IMO

).

I mentioned this in another thread, but I think the reason that The Force Awakens is doing so much better than the prequels is that it doesn't throw you out of the main story into the backstory. For example, it doesn't try to explain something like midichlorians because that would only serve to distract from the characters you've already come to care about without adding that much or making the story any more fun.

ACTUALLY A PRETTY BIG SPOILER:

That's not who I'm talking about. ;^)

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ACTUALLY A PRETTY BIG SPOILER:

That's not who I'm talking about. ;^)

You're talking about

the "fallen human" aka Chara, right? Because that's who I'm talking about. My point was that Flowey could have been Chara instead of actually being Asriel.

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I loved this game so much. And also I made back like $7 of the $10 I spent on it by crafting and selling cards and emoticons and such. So that was something.

In regards to the pop-culture stuff I feel like most of it was at least just subtle enough that if you don't get what they're referencing, you probably won't realize someone's making a joke at all. (Such as Napstablook. You'd think that's just a random name if you don't know what 'Napster' was) Not like a lot of other games I've seen on steam (and also WoW for that matter) that go completely ham-fisted on the nostalgia / pop-culture jokes so that they don't actually have to be clever or engaging (which Undertale definitely is).

One of my favorite things about this game, however, is that it's one of the most socially progressive games of the year, but it also turned out so overwhelmingly popular and highly rated; That left all the try-hard insecure gamer dudes out there conflicted between their NEED to play whatever everyone else is playing (because otherwise how can they prove they're REAL gamers!?) and their tears over "SJW Furry B.S. ruining my games industry". The resulting salt was delicious.

P.S. my headcanon is that

Frisk is actually the body of Chara, resurrected and lacking their memories! Based on never actually seeing Frisk themself fall into the caverns, and starting the game wearing bandages like the ones found next to Chara's coffin at the end of the game, and certain characters mistaking you for Chara, and how you eventually turn into Chara fully if you decide to be as sociopathic as they were, etc. etc.

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In regards to the pop-culture stuff I feel like most of it was at least just subtle enough that if you don't get what they're referencing, you probably won't realize someone's making a joke at all. (Such as Napstablook. You'd think that's just a random name if you don't know what 'Napster' was) Not like a lot of other games I've seen on steam (and also WoW for that matter) that go completely ham-fisted on the nostalgia / pop-culture jokes so that they don't actually have to be clever or engaging (which Undertale definitely is).

One of my favorite things about this game, however, is that it's one of the most socially progressive games of the year, but it also turned out so overwhelmingly popular and highly rated; That left all the try-hard insecure gamer dudes out there conflicted between their NEED to play whatever everyone else is playing (because otherwise how can they prove they're REAL gamers!?) and their tears over "SJW Furry B.S. ruining my games industry". The resulting salt was delicious.

Good points, but I think there's a tension here that I'm not sure the game really addresses. Like you said, the game is socially progressive. It takes the classic JRPG theme of THE POWER OF FRIENDSHIP and expands it to include weirdos and outcasts. That's good! But I think the thing that bothers me is that it doesn't feel like a game designed for everyone so much as for people who are in touch with indie video game subculture. Like, the kind of people who've played similar games and know what to expect. I would really like to know how a video game novice would react to this game, because I imagine giving this game to someone like my sister and having her just get frustrated and bored with it. I read upset reviews like this and wonder what went wrong. Why did that guy have such a bad time? Just how accessible is this game? Does a game that is thematically about friendship and inclusiveness need to be accessible to a wider audience? Should it?

Let me try to provide an example.

*early-game spoilers follow*

When the guy who wrote that Killscreen review (Jake Muncy) got to the Toriel boss fight, he didn't see any other option but to kill it.

Here's my thought process when I began the game. First, I notice the 8/16-bit-style graphics. I notice the archetypal humans-vs-monsters plot. I notice how it describes the date as "201X." So I'm already thinking about NES/SNES games. A few minutes later I'm thinking about Earthbound. I think about how clever that game was and how it liked to screw with the player's expectations. Somewhat tangentially, this makes me think about Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem. That game was cool. So when Toriel first leaves me alone I sit and wait for a long time to see if she comes back, because I'm already expecting the game to fuck with me if I just do the obvious thing. I look for hidden stuff. I press "A" on walls. I talk to everything. I make a mental note when a frog tells me that I might have to try to keep trying the non-lethal option even if it seems to do nothing.

Finally, I get to the Toriel fight. I try the non-lethal options. Doesn't seem to work. So I try to lower her health to see if she'll yield. Doesn't work. At the point, I could just keep attacking but my brain automatically goes "nooooo" and instead I flee the battle. I go mess around in the house to see if I can change anything. I take a nap. I go talk to some spiders. Eventually, I go back to the boss fight and just try everything except killing Toriel. And it works. And away I go.

So my point here is not just to brag about my impressive nintendo knowledge, but that having that knowledge might have helped me avoid the frustration Muncy experienced. I expected the game to screw with me and I was rewarded for that. To me, that feels like an exclusionary mechanism. This is a game for people who play games that like to fuck with the player. So when I try to reconcile that with the themes of friendship and inclusiveness, I'm not sure what to make of the game's position. Should it be obliged to explain itself to people who aren't familiar with or expecting Earthbound-style mindfuckery? In other words, does the game suffer from a "communicative failure," as Muncy put it? I'm not sure, but I think it's a good question. And I love that the game is complex enough that it can support questions like this.

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Honestly I thought so much of the game was designed SPECIFICALLY to **** with people who approach it locked in the mindset of playing a typical JRPG. Those people will almost certainly kill Toriel, and then the game makes them feel awful for it and, sooner or later, will make them want to start over and try again with their previous mindset unlearned. (And then make them feel bad for the previous decision all over again. Really hammer that guilt in there so it sticks with them).

Personally, I had had up to Snowdin spoiled for me before I played, so I knew that I didn't have to kill her. (It's really heartbreaking seeing a player who thinks they just have to "weaken her enough" to give up, and then their attack suddenly does 10x the damage they expected it to.) Not to brag but I THINK I probably would have figured it out anyways, just because I logically assume that a course of action is worth continuing to try as long as you're getting SOME progress or different result on each try, and Toriel's response to your mercy is at least slightly different on each successive one, even if it's just a change to her expression or a 4-dot ellipsis when her last response was only 3.

If I had done it three times in a row with no change (or an exact repeat of previous response) then I probably would have given up at that point. This remained my approach to every other encounter in the rest of the game, and it remained true.... although I did waste A WHOLE LOT of time trying to challenge and plead with and fight back against Undyne before realizing all I needed to do was

run

.

There were other instances where I tried doing things that I thought would get a reaction that wound up wasted, like using the Snowman Piece while fighting

the icy amalgamate

. It looked like it was melting and I thought maybe I could give it the snow to make it... less melty. D: That encounter had me unsettled to such a degree I just wasn't thinking straight/

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Undertale is definitely the game of the year for me 2015, maybe even in the last 5 years.

The storytelling is superb for what it wants to tell. and for once i can see that the developers forsight was INCREDIBLE.

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I was just thinking a bit about Jim Sterling's comment that "If there’s a criticism to be had, it’s that sometimes Toby Fox doesn’t know when to let a joke go. Recurring gags about getting interrupted by phone calls or puzzles that fail to work have some charm at first, but tend to wear thin." Sterling makes a legitimate point, but I wonder if the reason the game has some strained jokes is also the reason the project is so successful overall. Because the game is created primarily by one guy just following his own judgement, he might miss the mark on some jokes but he is also not going to have the most idiosyncratic and special parts of his work sanded down by a committee. So many games nowadays lack that distinctiveness.

In particular, Halo 5 feels like a game that began with a strong creative vision that was just beaten down by feedback. The core idea is great: "What if Master Chief went rogue? Can this robo-man get angry? How far would he go?" But then someone said "uuuh mater chef would never betray the space army, that doesn't fit his character" and then someone came down from corporate to say "Master Chief is the face of the Xbox brand, we can't have him do anything more criminal than punch Spartan Locke like once" and then the design team said "we'll need to add 6 completely pointless characters so we can have a co-op mode" and then the writer fell over and died.

So basically, what I'm saying is that we need more auteurs in video games. Think about how a guy like Quentin Tarantino just does what he wants with his movies and the studios still throw money at him. Whereas in videogameland even Hideo Kojima (arguably the biggest "auteur" figure in games) can still get fired and have his name casually wiped off the box art.

Anyway, I hope more of you guys play this game because it is SO REFRESHING, seriously. I'm not saying it's the best game ever but it will definitely remind you that a video game can be more than just a bland, unfocused compromise. I think that's what everyone needed right now.

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I'm happy a thread for this one has finally shown up. I mentioned it a few times in the "What are you playing?" thread, but it never seemed to get much traction.

Anyway, yeah, it's absolutely stunning. Staggeringly brilliant in a literal sense - I didn't know what to do with myself for about a week after I finished it because it felt like there wasn't anything in the rest of my life that quite matched it.

I'm not exaggerating when I say that this little video game is one of my personal favorite pieces of art ever made. It's haunting, hysterical, and absolutely beautiful.

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i found the dialogue to be pretty comic

But, yeah, I rather liked Undertale. The writing, the characters and the music, everything was pretty great. Mind you, I could have done without

Spoiler

that rather hamfisted message about grinding and stats. You know, the one about how LV was Level of Violence and EXP was Execution Points.

Other than that, I really enjoyed this game and I'm glad I gave it a chance.

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