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Bad Time, Traveller

Author Comments

Choo choo, all aboard the Undertale train! Kind of difficult for me not to after hearing pretty much universal praise, you can only dodge spoilers for so long.

Detailed spoilery thoughts below, but I think it’s a pretty good game overall.

deviantART mirror: http://marikbentusi.deviantart.com/art/Bad-Time-Traveller-569879249
tumblr mirror: http://marikbentusi.tumblr.com/post/132423161877


I may have overhyped myself or I may have played through too many fourth-wall-breaking games already (had to think of Spec Ops and Transistor at points), but the writing somehow never fully clicked with me.

There was a really nicely varied cast of characters, and having two-layered ones is usually pretty solid writing, but I felt like there may have been too many and/or the game may have lasted too long between the waterfall and Hotland sections. It kind of became a predictable routine of seeing through the first layer of pretense a character puts up only to find out they’re a huggable weirdo on the second layer underneath.

Tho overall I thought the characters were pretty good. What sucked about Undertale - to me - was the villains.

I may still be missing some details here, but the two villains of the game are basically Chara and the fact that Flowey doesn’t have a soul. Chara’s some inexplicably absolutely force of evil and that’s kinda it. That’s Blizzard-level of “and then the hero went mad” plot contrivance, really didn’t expect something so flat after all the well-rounded characters. And it’s a similar deal with Flowey which has a strange reincarnation story in which suddenly Essence becomes relevant (and it never plays a role for anyone else’s death or reincarnation, so I’d chalk that up to “because plot”) and the crux of the character is that they’re incapable of showing emotions. Except they go through various emotions throughout the game, be it sadness, fear or glee, so apparently there’s some foggy line between “emotions” and “true emotions” the difference of which is once again completely up what the plot demands.

Those villains just seemed sooo contrived compared to the much more fleshed-out characters.

It’s a similar deal with the Genocide route itself, it seems to be mainly effective just by knowing that it exists, but after having seen a Let’s Play of it, it doesn’t actually seem to be a very fun way to play the game at all, not even as the power fantasy it apparently wants to be, since the enemies seem to be either complete pushovers or bullet hell satan incarnate. So after having watched that, which also explained a bit more about one of the villains, I also feel like the Genocide route was more effective before I actually knew the details. Or maybe I just assumed it would draw from more than “that’s how you’re supposed to play RPGs, right?” to sucker people in, since the Mercy route barely ever put me in a position where I was tempted to abandon it.

So from that angle, all of Undertales proper “villains” were pretty disappointing to me.

That said, Sans totally lived up to the “hype” I got from bits of fanart here and there. Most characters follow that two-layer rule of pretending to be someone and actually being someone else, but sans managed to walk the line between joking and serious in a really entertaining way, and it even gave him a sense of mystery before you learned more about his fouth-wall-breaking shenanigans. Or maybe that’s just because it took me waaay too long to realize he and his brother are font references.


I just like this, too clean, and expressive to dislike. Too stylized for me to see a flaw.

That is all.

Pretty good picture. Very good work on the shading. As for your thoughts on the game, they're reasonable though the reason Flowey was able to come back to life was the same reason that those weird things in Alphys lab were able to be resurrected; through an injection of determination. The reason that Flowey didn't melt like the others did was because the flower provided a solid body for him to inhabit. As for his emotions, it was more that he had no capacity to love or care for anyone. He could express emotions (evident through his facial expressions), feel frustration, sadness, fear (the last of which he never had to feel because he had the power to reset before Frisk came along), but none of the important stuff like love or happiness.

And about the genocide run, I'm pretty sure the creator made it so it wouldn't be fun, as it seems like he hoped and intended for people to take the no killing run. Unless you are a sadistic person or feel really unattached to the game, the genocide run is heartbreaking and really puts you into the role of a heartless villain (a lot of games don't tend to make you feel bad when you do something bad in a game of choice, but Undertale makes you feel every bump in the road). And as for villains, the real villain is the player, depending on the path they take. Chara might as well just be a name as she had no role than to help set up the plot and "influence" the player. Flowey could be thought of as a living incarnation of Chara's will or at least, that's how I thought of it. But the game really didn't have much in the way of villains. Any evil produced in the game comes from the player.

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Bentusi-Paladin responds:

Oh yeah I know that Flowey could come back to life at all because of Determination, but separate of that the only sense "self" that can come back is constructed by their Essence in absence of a Soul. Essence was pretty much just made up for that one character to explain why they're a completely unsalvagable tragedy, which just seemed like a contrivance to me.

I don't think making the genocide run completely unfun doesn't really gel with Chara telling you how you did it all for XP/LV/Gold/ATK/DEF/stats and didn't care about the world/characters, because really most people (from what I can tell) either did it because that's just how they expect RPGs to work or because they really liked the world/characters and wanted to see more dialogue. None of which is part of the point Chara's trying to make from what I can see.

I mean, call them what you want - villains, antagonistic forces, whatever - I'm not really too concerned about semantics. The player definitely didn't produce Chara or Flowey's destructive nature, they're responsible for the Genocide run, which is the third "villain" I mentioned.

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Credits & Info

4.29 / 5.00

Nov 2, 2015 | 3:06 PM EST
File Info
430 x 838 px
299.2 kb

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