Once again, I am slowly working my way through 30 days’ worth of video game topics. And once again, I am taking the task far too seriously. The next topic on the list is the game with the best story, which is an exceedingly difficult question, if you ask me. I mean, there are so many games I could pick, but which one is really the best? To prevent my mind from imploding from the sheer possibilities, I have decided instead to discuss a game with a notable story, Undertale. Spoilers ahead.
Most games have one story. And even if we’re given the occasional option concerning how we should proceed, more often than not, nothing truly changes in the end. I actually talked about The Last Story some years back, a game which gave you the illusion of choice, but which, I eventually realized, would make you rethink your choices until you picked the option the game wanted. Oh, and I had initially believed this game’s story to have so much promise. Alas!
There is one game that I can think of where the player’s choices truly matter, and that is Undertale. In general, there are three main stories, Pacifist, Genocide, and neutral. In the first two, you either spare every enemy or kill them, respectively. The neutral story, on the other hand, changes depending on who you kill and who you spare, with a good number of variations possible.
Undertale also presents an interesting concept in the fact that it acknowledges such things as save points and resets as a real part of the game. During the battle against “Photoshop Flowey”, he can actually save and load the game during the battle, allowing him to revive you after he’s killed you, if only to kill you again and again. If you lose against Sans at the end of the Genocide Route, he is disturbingly aware of how many times he’s killed you. And the reason behind Sans’ apparent apathy towards the world is because he knows that his timeline can be reset at any time…if the player chooses to erase their file and start a new game. It’s surprising how deep a story can become by simply considering what it would be like if common video game mechanics applied to the real world.
Lastly, Undertale contains something that I always love in a story, a good, unsolved mystery. Through a bit of meddling in the game’s files, people have been able to uncover information about the enigmatic W. D. Gaster, who supposedly “fell into his own creation” and was scattered amongst the timelines, essentially ceasing to exist. While I am thus far uncertain whether or not Deltarune will shed some more light on this strange figure, right now, Gaster remains a truly fascinating character to theorize about.
This post was originally published on Virtual Bastion on May 28, 2019.