For Our Consideration: Undertale dares players to make a mistake they can never take back
This article contains plot details from Undertale.
At their core, most video games are power fantasies. Even when players aren’t beating down supervillains or dropping meteors on bad guys’ heads, they’re still the ones in control, the ones who can undo their mistakes with a reload or a simple press of the reset button. Even in games with tricks to subvert that power, the potential to wipe the slate clean and start over, forgiven of all past transgressions, is always there. Almost always, at least.
Toby Fox’s Undertale is a lot of things. “Funny.” “Quirky.” “Occasionally infuriating.” “Meme-friendly.” “Overtly inspired by EarthBound.” “Clever.” (Always, and especially, “Clever.”) But one thing it is not, is “forgiving.” Players who violate the game’s rigidly defined moral code to a sufficient degree, who move heaven and hell to ignore the moral lessons the game slams down with all the subtlety …