UNDERTALE 2016-03-25 20-53-03-89

Done with Undertale

Making My Own Finish

UNDERTALE 2016-03-25 21-45-48-81

Last night I finished Undertale… and what I mean by that is that I reached a point where I am just finished caring about the game.  I have so many conflicted feelings about this title.  On one hand I really do enjoy the story that is being told, and I made my best attempt to go pacifist.  The problem I have however is that there is a whole lot about the “game” that I simply hate.  For me it feels like I am very much playing two vastly different games.  One of which is this awesome console RPG where I wander around and talk to interesting people and do the occasional puzzle.  Then there is a completely different game that is the often times bullet hell shooter that is the combat system.  The combat system is the game that I hate, and the loner I had to play it the more I loathed its existence.  The strange part about it is that I love JRPGs and I love Bullet Hell shooters… they are awesome separate genres but there is something about the hybridization of this game that offends my sensibilities.

When I play a bullet hell shooter, it feels like there is nothing on the line.  Sure I might lose a ship or I might have to start back at the beginning of the game, but there is nothing that I deeply care about on the game.  When it comes to an RPG… adding that bullet hell aspect feels too punishing for me.  If I fucked and forgot to save, a single screw-up might cost me hours of retracing my steps to try and reach the point where I have to try that fight all over again.  In a bullet hell title you often get some avenue for rapid trial and error as you figure things out on the fly.  I am very much a learn by doing person, and no amount of prep work ahead of time is going to get me through a fight until I reach my own internal click moment where I grok the mechanics at a purely muscle memory level.

Un-fun Experience

UNDERTALE 2016-03-25 20-53-03-89

If I somehow could have turned off the combat system and wound up with a game where I just walk around and talk to interesting people I would unabashedly sing this games praises.  Tonight we are recording the AggroChat Game Club show where we talk about Undertale and right now I feel like I am probably going to be the lone voice that did not really enjoy this game.  From the moment I first encountered the combat system I felt like I was “taking my medicine” and forcing myself through an experience that I simply was not enjoying.  So in many ways it felt like doing homework, and I found myself trying to rush through as fast as I could so I had something to talk about.  I don’t want to give too many spoilers in my blog post, and will likely save those for the podcast.  However I managed to get to the bullet hell-iest of all bullet hell glitch endings, which apparently means that I did not make enough friends along the way?  I did a bunch of research and watched several of the other ending options on YouTube and I have to say…  the ending I was heading for feels like a massive slap in the face.

I realize it is a central conceit in a lot of Japanese games that you get a shitty ending the first time… and that is supposed to drive you to play the game again to get a better ending.  I’ve always kinda thought this practice was bullshit, and instead of lighting a fire under me to get the better ending… I just tend to chuck that game in the dustbin as a thoroughly disappointing experience.  The primary problem with me and this game is that I don’t enjoy the central game mechanics… which are avoid stuff on screen as a a replacement for standard menu driven RPG combat.  I can absolutely play a game indefinitely that has a shitty story, but has mechanics that I really enjoy.  This is why I mesh so well with skinner box and grindy games… because I am enjoying that core loop enough to keep playing for the promise of something cool in the future.  That said I have never been able to struggle through a sub par mechanical experience just because I know there is a good story there somewhere.  When I reach a point when I think I would much rather watch a YouTube video of someone else playing…  then it is time for me to hang up my controller and cut my losses.

 

9 thoughts on “Done with Undertale

  1. I felt the same way about Undertale. I love bullet hell shooters and I love RPGs, but together they just didn’t work for me. I found combat irritating and repetitive, especially when trying not to kill things. It also seems, based on what I’ve read, that it’s one of those games that needs to be played multiple times in order to fully appreciate it. You need to see the monsters reactions to you when you’re a pacifist vs a killer in order to see how clever the game is. I don’t have the patience for that.
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