shamanicshaymin: Quote from Napstablook from Undertale (Madotsuki :: Blood on Her Hands)
[personal profile] shamanicshaymin
I don't know when I'm loading the Realmscon photos, since I don't have a cable for my phone yet. So instead, let's talk about Undertale.

I did both peace and genocide runs. I'm going to go indeph in spoilers into this, and Undertale is the kind of game you should NOT be spoiled for. So... play it first, okay? Then come back and hear me cry.

So, the goal of the game is not to kill anyone. Which is fine with me, since I don't like being cruel in video games anyway. Even though they're pixels or polygons on the sceen, something about being mean to NPCs or killing them makes me uncomfortable. That's why I'm careful not to blow up any Tribals in Jet Force Gemini (well, aside from the fact that you have to save them all in order to finish the game). Seeing the dismembered hand of a Not!Ewok/koala hybrid just lying there is... brrr. Albeit, I'm not completely innocent. I beat up Omao-Chao in Sonic Adventure 2: Battle and his whining makes me laugh (and you can suck him out in space, where no one can hear him scream. Or prattle. :D) and he always comes back anyway. Ohhhhhhhhhhhh, that's the thing. In Paper Mario, I killed the Wakkas for their bumps and felt like absolute shit for it. I felt like a poacher who rendered entire species extinct because of something "valuable" they had. So from now on, I never hurt a Wakka even if it meant giving up one of the best healing items in the game. Yume Nikki made me feel like a murderer; there was an entire room stuffed with scared NPCs, and I stabbed them all because I thought I would uncover a secret or something important. Nope, absolutely nothing. Here's another thing. I earned money to use soda machines, and I'd stab people and things because they each have different reactions and I wanted to see what they were. WE'RE GOING TO BE TALKING ABOUT THIS CURIOSITY IN A BIT.

In Undertale, you care for the enemies not because you're trying to be careful and not lock yourself out of the best ending, but because they each have individual quirks and personalities. They make you laugh. They have hopes and dreams. They want to impress you or have someone to listen to them. And it makes me happy to spare them and make them happy too. Reading the boss reactions to your refusing to fight them is heartwarming and gives you faith in humanity. Doing the peace run, I had hope, and I was rewarded for it. I felt like I was lifting out of this depressive funk I had and I was actually worth something. The monsters in the game loved me so much and believed in me. Like Alphys, I believed I could overcome my guilt over being such a screw-up and be forgiven and make friends.

I threw it all away in genocide run.

Flowey reminded me so much of Lord Kuruku from Unico and the Island of Magic. He's a terrifying little shit who's so consumed by hatred and sadism that kindness literally kills him. He's pleading you to fight him, warning you that if you let him go he'll come back and kill everyone. But because you refused to hurt him, Flowey dies, leaving a guilt-wracked Asriel. Allow me to use Wadanohara and the Deep Blue Sea as a punching bag for a second; I didn't like Sal as a villain. He's so gleefully sadistic and over-the-top that I couldn't take him seriously. This is where good writing makes all the difference; you get a sado-masochistic rapist yandere who on top of all that is an eldritch abomination, yet a spiteful flower is a million times more evil than he'd ever be. Going by knowledge of the peace run alone, Flowey is a villain you love to hate. But with the murder run? You realize that Flowey is you. Someone who is distraught, cynical, bored, and... curious.

My reaction to the genocide run at first was "bring it on." People have hyped how brutal this game is, and I hoped it would live up to my expectations. I played games that questioned the morality of the player like OFF, and I played a lot of mediocre games too. Not to mention read all the wangsty crappypastas about how it was all the player's fault that ~*~OMG BLUE'S RATICATE IS DEAD AND BLUE WANTS TO KILL YOU THEN HIMSELF FOR REVEEEEEEENGE!~*~ I watched Madoka, which is an exercise in making life for magical girls as horrific and tragic as possible. I expected "omg humanity suuuuuuuuuuuucks (and you suck too, player)", but thankfully, Undertale is a lot more complicated than that. But you want to know what's telling? As I was nearing the end of the run, I thought, "Hey, this isn't as bad as I thought it was going to be." I actually thought I'd be killing the Monster Kid. I cheered when Undyne saved them, but the cynical part of me thought, "Yeah, like they'd really let you kill a child." Same with Alphys evacuating everyone. "Oh yeah, they're not really letting you kill everyone. That's going too far even for this game's standards." HO HO HO TALK ABOUT LURING ME INTO A FALSE SENSE OF SECURITY

That said, Papyrus' death still upset me, and it was the most awful I felt so far. Undyne's sacrifice is at least covered as her Crowning Moment of Awesome. But even when you slaughter Papyrus in cold blood, he still thinks you're a good person. He still thinks that someone would help me. It makes me hate myself because I know I'm going to go through with this run, that I'm not going to change. The creepy music that plays after you get the "But nobody came" message is unnerving too. Whenever your character "checks" a boss monster, the descriptions get more unsettling. Like when they look over Monster Kid, all they think of is "Free EXP." Definitely a take-that to the gamer fanboys who are so obsessed with leveling and stats and tiers and showing off their masculinity. Slowly your character goes from being coldly apathetic to enjoying themselves whenever they're killing someone. They get a smiley face before they encounter a monster. You check the two guard dudes who you helped realize their feelings for each other in the peace run, and what your character says is so... Patrick Bateman. Finally, the text for your character's dialogue turns red. They just don't give a shit anymore about the little things that make the game so interesting or worth exploring, like Toriel's bookshelf or diary. Just gaining EXP and LOVE.

I have to say. During the peace run, I did not see the EXP/"execution points" and LOVE ("Level of Violence") thing coming.

Sans is easily the hardest boss I've fought since the "true final boss" at the end of Hell in Cave Story. My fingers and wrist hurt and I had to take several breaks. Midway in our fight, his speech remembering me from the pacifist run broke my heart. I really did consider quitting and ragequitting. But I didn't want to feel like I was a coward for giving up. I had to see what the end of genocide run was like. I should've caved in to my instincts. I should've just stopped. This is the first time I wish I hadn't persevered.

I did something I regretted all because I was curious. Because I wanted to know.

I'm just going to copy-paste an excerpt from Flowey's monologue here, because it says everything:

"At first, I used my powers for good. I became "friends" with everyone. I solved all their problems flawlessly. Their companionship was amusing... For a while. As time repeated, people proved themselves predictable. What would this person say if I gave them this? What would they do if I said this to them? Once you know the answer, that's it. That's all they are. It all started because I was curious. Curious what would happen if I killed them. 'I don't like this,' I told myself. 'I'm just doing this because I HAVE to know what happens.' Ha ha ha... What an excuse! You of all people must know how liberating it is to act this way. At least we're better than those sickos that stand around and WATCH it happen... Those pathetic people that want to see it, but are too weak to do it themselves. I bet someone like that's watching right now, aren't they...?"

Ow ow ow ow ow. Even people who watch the genocide run on Youtube aren't safe.

If you plow through to the bitter end (I had a feeling that you'd kill Flowey... and sure enough, you do), you meet the REAL villain of the game:

"Every time a number increases, that feeling... That's me."

I'll never enjoy feeding vitamins to my Pokemon again. Not that I liked EV training before, but now I've got the guilt to go along with the tedium.

"Save" gets a whole new meaning in this game, because if you reset because you felt guilty about killing someone, you are literally "saving" them. The game makes sure you know it; if you've murdered in a previous run, your character will remember. Ex. If you've defeated Toriel before then reset, she'll say different dialogue: "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." Then you check her: "You thought about telling Toriel that you saw her die. But... that's creepy. Can you show mercy without fighting or running away...?" Then Flowey calls you out and mocks you for good measure:

"But don't act so cocky. I know what you did. You murdered [Toriel]. And then you went back, because you regretted it. Ha ha ha ha... You naïve 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." I thought I was the only one with that power. But... I can't SAVE anymore. Apparently YOUR desires for this world override MINE. Well well. Enjoy that power while you can. I'll be watching. *evil cackle*"

This is actually what I thought people meant when they warned me that my future peace runs would be forever tainted after I finished the genocide run. I would've been able to cope with that. It IS my fault, and I'd be a-okay with getting called out in-game by everyone. As long as I had the chance to redeem myself and save everybody for good, it'll be okay.

The peace run is exactly the same as when you're playing it for the first time. All the way until the very end, where your murder run character reminds you that they've taken your SOUL. If you stay with Toriel, Frisk is revealed to be possessed by the First Child, looking at you with red eyes and blacking out the screen with a demonic cackle. If you decide not to stay, the group photo will have everyone's heads X'd out in red ink except your character. No more cute pomeranian and calming melody. Just "THE END" in red text and haunting "music" blaring on loop.

It's where it finally got me. Because I've completed the genocide run, I can't wipe the dust off my hands no matter how hard I try. No matter how much I want hope to prevail. No matter how much I wanted Papyrus to be right and that I can find a way to make up for my mistakes. No matter what I do, I'll never get the true ending back from the First Child. There's absolutely no way to extract them from Frisk like you could extract Flowey from Asriel. Every time, they're going to do that horrible laugh and kill everyone and undo all the progress I've made. The best ending is impossible to get back forever. Worst of all, it's all my fault. All because I had to see it through the end. All because I was curious.

Usually if I play a game with multiple endings, I'd play it regularly, and after I beat the game, I'd go back to get some of the bad endings (or look them up on Youtube depending how severe they are and whether or not I could handle it) before saving the best one for last. Because no matter what awful things happen, at least I could go back and fix things. The damage isn't permanent. But in Undertale, it is. In OFF, the Batter believed he did the right thing, and part of the game's tragedy is that you can argue that he actually has a point. Is wiping out the world so much worse than letting the Elsens be abused by tyrannical leaders? Dedan, Japhet, and Enoch had good intentions, but they have no idea what they're doing and no capacity to possess the maturity and experience to rule, due to their creator Hugo being only a child. In Undertale? No goddamn excuse. You aren't "tricked" into a murder run, the way you were fooled to puppeteer the Batter. Undertale doesn't even hint at such a route, and it's difficult to start a genocide run by accident. You made the choice to do it yourself.

People found a way to get the True Peace ending back by deleting the file that contained the data they ever beat the genocide run (as in, digging around the game's folders as opposed to resetting in-game). I initially was going to do a neutral run, but upon finally realizing I locked myself out of the happiest ending forever (and pulling teeth to admit it really was my fault and not trying to pin it 100% on the Fallen Child), I didn't have the heart to go through with it anymore. So I deleted my save file along with the genocide run. But the game is still intent on calling me "Asshat," which is what I named my character for the neutral round. It even still remembered I killed Toriel in that run. So if it still remembers that, what if it remembers the genocide run too? I'm too scared to play the game through a peace run again, in case it turns out the Fallen Child still has my SOUL after all and will shatter the happy ending to pieces, reminding me that I've still birthed a hideous abomination who's completely out of my control.

I'm never trusting games that center around morality with multiple endings again. Let me know if there's permanent consequences before I "earn" my bad ending! I don't want to wreck myself again...

I recommend playing the peace run, then if you're wondering THAT much about the genocide route, you can play it up to a point... THEN FOR THE LOVE OF GOD STOP AND RESET BEFORE YOU FACE ASGORE. That way, you'll get all the extra dialogue about what you've done that round for the next playthrough, but still have a chance to redeem yourself. You can always watch the genocide ending on Youtube. Listen to people when they say personally beating the genocide run will ruin the best ending forever. Not just in a metaphorical/psychological sense. It literally WILL.
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