okay. so. I think I’ve collected my thoughts enough to talk rationally about why I dislike Undertale besides just “it’s a bad game and the community sucks!!!” I… really wanted to enjoy this game. And there are parts of it that I do enjoy! I’ve watched playthroughs of various parts, and I have to say that the story is compelling. I like many of the characters. Hell, I almost cried when sans dies at the end of the genocide route, mostly because “so, guess that’s it, huh?” is such a GOOD death line. No goddamn monologuing after they are beaten, a far too common trope. Just, “yep, it’s over” and acceptance of that. It hit me hard. So no, my problems with undertale don’t lie with the story or the characters (although Toriel can be pretty annoying). They lie solely in the game’s mechanics. At its core, I like the idea of an RPG that gives you a choice about whether you kill enemies. I don’t like the way it is executed though. Basically, if you want the “good” ending (true pacifist), every battle comes down to trial and error of “what buttons will allow me to spare this monster?”. And if it was clear what you had to do, or it was more like a puzzle, that would be one thing! But it’s not. One my one time actually trying to play the game myself, I ran into this sad ghost dude. I hit the cheer button and tried to spare him, but it didn’t work. One google later, I discovered that I actually had to cheer him up three times before I could spare. Yeah, how am I supposed to know THAT? If you get tired of this constant trial and error, and decide to just kill things, that’s not explained at all in the game’s brief tutorial. Every time I tried to attack, every single one would miss. But oh, apparently you have to time hitting the space bar at a certain time to make your attack hit. What??? Nobody in game told me that! I also don’t think the spare mechanic is executed super well. These monsters pop out of nowhere and attack me, and then without attacking them at all I agree to spare them. But like, they’re winning the battle! Why would they agree to that? To solve that I tried thinking of fights as more of “encounters” but that just…. didn’t work with the bullet hell mechanics.
Oh, yeah, the bullet hell. I…. don’t like it. I don’t mind bullet hell in other games. Hell, the binding of Isaac is one of my favourite games ever and basically all the endgame bosses in it are bullet hell. The key difference I found in undertale is that the entire bullet hell area is compressed into a very small portion of the screen, making it that much harder. I was taking a TON of damage just from the monsters in the first area. I feel like in a game like undertale, where the primary focus is the story (at least to me), the battles should either not be hard or the difficulty should be changeable.
Finally, I think the game can be a bit heavy-handed with its morals. Every character is like “hey please don’t kill anyone!”. Honestly I think I would have preferred something where i make the choice, but I see the impacts it has on the world over time. Oh, and don’t even get me started on the fourth wall breaking. It’s rarely executed well in games, and this is no exception. Having save/load be a game mechanic rather than just a save function is just….. ugh.
So yeah that’s my thoughts.
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