Undertale Discussion Post

Here you are. Let’s keep it off other threads now. Does disqus allow subscribe/unsubscribe? Ugh, we really need to get rid of disqus.

63 Comments

  1. illhousen says:
    Alright, so, let’s kick it off with a few fic recs.

    One by One: http://archiveofourown.org/works/4942816/chapters/11345293
    A genuinely good fic. Plot-wise, it’s a pretty standard “let’s do the time warp again and save Asriel this time” and the beginning is rather melodramatic, but once the fic gets going it becomes really enjoyable. Chara is the main villain and manages to be creepy in all the right ways. The fic culminates in a Raksha shaping battle while managing to make it meaningful, which is no small feat.

    Holding Pattern: http://archiveofourown.org/series/338128
    A rather unique fic in that it follows an aborted Genocide run with no resets. Frisk kills everyone in the ruins and Snowdin, gets to Papyrus’ boss battle but accepts his mercy. Things progress from there.

    The most memorable part of the fic is a very well-executed mindfuck. Chara seals Frisk’s ability to recognize and remember names, resulting in cascading mental consequences. This is the stuff I read for and so should you.

    (On downside, I found the ending to be a bit weak. Everything was resolved far too quickly and neatly after the long build-up.)

    The Golden Quiche: http://archiveofourown.org/works/5296460/chapters/12226634
    Not so much a rec as a call for mine canaries. The premise is promising: a developed magic system, Magi Association wanting to get their hands on Frisk, politics and intrigue – but the size of the fic is intimidating and I have no idea if it gets anywhere. Seems to be decently written from a technical perspective, at least.

    1. Mini-Farla says:
      In retrospect I think One by One was a bit weak on the character front. Frisk doesn’t actually make a very active attempt to help Asriel; they mostly just rely on other people to do it for them and then fight the final battle. It didn’t really capture the emotional drive to save Asriel that a lot of players feel, I don’t think, and Frisk’s victory ends up feeling a little undeserved. Also, the thing Chara does at the end doesn’t make any sense to me, as I’ve said elsewhere.

      I would recommend You’re a Dicey Situation, by our good friend Ember: http://archiveofourown.org/works/7233016/chapters/16419535
      I’m not sure if it’s quite as technically well-written as One by One, and the plot is a lot less ambitious, but I feel it captures the emotional and character angles a lot better. The way it uses Chara is also very clever.

      1. illhousen says:
        Hmmm, it’s been a while since I read One by One, should reread it to see how it holds up. You’re probably right about Frisk being rather passive, with Sans being at the core of stuff actually happening.

        I’ll check the fic, thanks.

        1. Mini-Farla says:
          Frickin’ Sans. I used to like him but he is in EVERYTHING and he always devours everything he touches. I rather liked him in Holding Pattern, though.
          1. illhousen says:
            Yeah. I get why people latch onto him, but he really works much better as a background character who occasionally steps on the forefront, not the other way around.

            In One by One he could have, for example, opened the door to Gaster’s realm for Frisk to enter but not follow because of one reason or another, forcing Frisk to navigate the timeless void, find their way to Gaster and then decipher the messages.

      2. illhousen says:
        Hm, the fic seems to be a slow burn. Much summation. I suspect it’s going to get going now that most of old things are out of the way, though. The emotional angle is better, though. Much less melodrama, more character exploration, so on that front the fic delivers.
    2. Farla says:
      Holding Pattern is a great example of people needing to fucking end their fics. The original idea they describe, of a genocide run suddenly terminating with the kid staying with Papyrus, and how they write the kid, is great. The plot that develops from that is a pile of shit.
      1. illhousen says:
        Oh, the plot is pretty weak, but I did enjoy greatly the ideas present in the fic of the mindfuck variety, and so it gets a lot of leeway from me.
        1. Farla says:
          But that’s what pisses me off the most! There’s this great idea, the first stories/chapters are great, but then there’s ages spent on Sans’ investigation and then that determination bullshit that never matters, and all the talks about resets, and being told the character’s actually getting worse and soon there’ll be permanent damage OH WAIT NO YOU GOT IT IN TIME GOOD JOB NO CONSEQUENCES HERE HEY WAIT WHAT IF FREAKISH SOUL AMALGAMATION FRIENDSHIP? YAY!!!
          1. illhousen says:
            Hm, thinking back on it, I can see your point. In general, not enough consequences for a story about an aborted Genocide. Asriel being pulled in was also pretty cheap, especially considering it’s Chara’s endgame.
  2. Mini-Farla says:
    So I checked out that Determination thing and as I expected, it’s dumb. Chara is way too expressive and woobiefied and the ending makes no sense. Also, though reducing max health is a good enough gimmick, I can’t believe they didn’t take the obvious route of turning Chara into a typical RPG boss by giving them undodgeable attacks. I know this isn’t the only Chara boss hack; are there others that do that?
    1. illhousen says:
      Ah, a shame. I’ve heard a lot of good things about this game, but I guess I should have at least watched the LP before suggesting it. My bad.
  3. Farla says:
    I’ll chime in with my own current run and the last things I noticed:

    Killing Undyne directly in front of Sans makes him disappear mid-snore but changes nothing – he just lets you! However, it seems he’ll act if you actually leave her to die of the heat. Coward.

    Also, Mettaton’s first quiz is impossible to lose, which makes sense, except that you’re on 1HP when he asks the Mew Mew Kissy Cutie question. Alphys clearly accounted for the possibility you wouldn’t notice her hints by the fact your HP is halved each time, which suggests that something was supposed to happen on that question that’d stop Mettaton from attacking you if you screwed up.

    Also, I’m bugged by how killing named characters overwrites the general callouts – I got this awesome rant from Undyne because I’d killed some people but not Papyrus, while if he’s dead she only talks about him. Similarly, because I was trying to recreate my demo save, I killed several monsters, then Toriel, then reloaded to spare her, locking me out of Flowey’s “haha you think just because you spared her you’re a good person even though you’re still fine murdering others” rant.

    1. illhousen says:
      “which suggests that something was supposed to happen on that question that’d stop Mettaton from attacking you if you screwed up.”

      Maybe she would have revealed her super-secret and totally not made up invention that would temporally disable his attacks but required a lot of time to charge up? That way, she still achieves her goals of helping Frisk even if they ignore her.

      “Also, I’m bugged by how killing named characters overwrites the general callouts”

      Hm, yes, it’s thematically dubious. I get why it is the way it is narratively: like it or not, named characters carry more weight in the audience’s eyes no matter what you do. But yes, for a game dedicated to subverting the general gaming mindset it’s a serious flaw. Some kind of combined call-out would be more appropriate, especially since it’s not like Undertale is lacking in little details that most people won’t ever see, so sparing effort on it wouldn’t be a big thing, comparatively.

      1. Farla says:
        Maybe, but why not pull it out regardless? She obviously didn’t want the next question to happen, but she can’t do anything about it, suggesting that going off-script screwed up whatever she meant to do.

        My guess is it was some sort of power of friendship thing she meant to pull out to go with the question about her favorite friendship anime, but there’s no direct clue of what she was expecting to happen.

        1. illhousen says:
          Well, afterwards there are no wrong answers, so if that something only works with Mettaton’s final attack, it wouldn’t work now. Not visibly so at least.
          1. Farla says:
            Ah, that’s a good point!
    2. Roarke says:
      Killing Undyne directly in front of Sans makes him disappear mid-snore but changes nothing – he just lets you! However, it seems he’ll act if you actually leave her to die of the heat. Coward.

      I was going to say something about technically, you’re defending yourself against Undyne and she’s been persistently hunting you down. But then I remembered he knows you’re the anomaly in space-time and so you can’t be killed permanently and, therefore, self-defense itself becomes a meaningless concept.

      On the other hand, since stopping you means killing you, he probably thinks that decision is also meaningless and he’ll just let events flow from the player’s choices. He won’t save Undyne until you leave her to die from the heat, because that’s the point where your choice is removed from the situation. He’ll only obstruct you at the end of the Genocide Run, where your choice ends everything.

      To me, Sans is like a metaphor for the limits of choice in an RPG. He’ll let you do whatever fantastically fucked-up thing you can think of (and allowed for in the game), and only intercedes when you’re going to “break the game”. Undertale is tightly designed enough that the usual forms of sequence-breaking don’t exist, barring hacks (which he’ll call you out on). Having Sans show up to fight/intercede only at the end of a Genocide Run does kind of make sense from that perspective, in my opinion.

      1. Farla says:
        I was going to say something about technically, you’re defending yourself against Undyne and she’s been persistently hunting you down. But then I remembered he knows you’re the anomaly in space-time and so you can’t be killed permanently and, therefore, self-defense itself becomes a meaningless concept.

        Well also, her death scene is just so awful and she’s shouting about how she’s doing it for everyone else’s sake and won’t give up the whole time. Even if he wasn’t going to attack me, he could’ve tried to intervene somehow.

        Good point about his meta role. I guess it just annoys me – he’s willing to fight to force the player to give up out of frustration, but waits until the end. Why not try to make the game more difficult in other ways, at other points?

        1. illhousen says:
          Ah, but that would take effort.
        2. Mini-Farla says:
          Why not try to make the game more difficult in other ways, at other points?

          I believe that’s because he’s so depressed. He doesn’t see the point in stopping you before then because he knows it’ll all be reset anyway. It’s only in the absolute worst-case scenario that he works up the motivation to intervene. It’s also heavily implied that he knows the omnicide end contains permanent consequences, which means he can’t hide behind the excuse that nothing matters anymore.

        3. Roarke says:
          Good point about his meta role. I guess it just annoys me – he’s willing to fight to force the player to give up out of frustration, but waits until the end. Why not try to make the game more difficult in other ways, at other points?

          I have no idea, honestly. Like, from a metagame perspective, yeah, I have a clear idea of why he won’t, for instance, stop you from killing his brother. From a character perspective, I just do not know.

  4. illhousen says:
    Alright, so, there is a thing that kept bothering me. A lot of fics portray Frisk as a very quiet person. Sometimes they don’t like to talk, sometimes they have actual problems with speaking, sometimes they’re outright partially mute (is it a thing, by the way? I’m genuinely curious).

    So, why is it a thing? It’s pretty obvious that Frisk is a typical silent protagonist model: they do talk, people react to them talking, sometimes we even get to select the exact words they speak, it’s just normally we don’t see them talk on-screen, it’s only implied in narration and various characters monologue at them. It’s very common in the genre, on this blog Pokemon games probably would be the most known example, so where did this headcanon come from?

    1. Mini-Farla says:
      Tumblr. Frisk is a precious neurodivergent baby who is just like me and if you say otherwise you’re scum!!! must be protected. People project their own issues onto characters as a weird coping mechanism. There’s nothing inherently wrong about it and I do feel kind of bad about haranguing people for it, but it really kills engagement when you can’t tell if a fic is just issuefic with no relevance to anyone but the author or a serious attempt at interpreting the characters.

      (is it a thing, by the way? I’m genuinely curious).

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selective_mutism

      1. Farla says:
        I really doubt it’s overidentification with Frisk in most cases, though. They’d have better characterization if so, and they’d be writing more fics focused on Frisk.
        1. illhousen says:
          “They’d have better characterization if so”

          Would they, though? SIs tend to be poorly characterized precisely because they’re projections, not actual characters who are supposed to serve a narrative function. When you just want to use a character for vicarious living, they don’t really need such inconvenient things as personality or consistent characterization, just something to mark them as you.

          1. Farla says:
            Well, maybe not characterization. Better depiction. What I’ve seen really doesn’t overlap with the common manifestations of speech problems much. Unless the people with selective mutism writing Frisk all have really unusual versions, they should be writing Frisk as SELECTIVELY mute, not barely talking in general in all situations. Similarly, people who actually communicate in sign language seem like they’d do more than just *Frisk signed BLAH BLAH* now on to Chara’s very important feelings.
            1. illhousen says:
              Hm, yes, with that I would agree.
              Reply
        2. Mini-Farla says:
          Ah see, you’re looking at recent fandom, where all has been subsumed into Chara and Sans. The thing I was looking at was early fandom, and there are indeed many, many fics focused on Frisk there, almost all of which make them mute or selectively mute, combined with monsters magically all understanding sign language to explain why they can communicate.
          1. illhousen says:
            You know, it’s kinda funny on a meta-level that Chara is ERASING everything that isn’t Chara.
            1. Mini-Farla says:
              Yes, yes it is. Also terrifying.

              (What’s also meta-funny is absolutely everything getting attributed to the character who was erased from existence.)

              Reply
              1. illhousen says:
                Pffft, it’s like you think Alphys can do something on her own or something. Yeah, right. It’s all Gaster. He built the lab, he did all of the experiments here before they were attributed to Alphys, he created colored magic (including Undyne’s, which was a thing in one fan comic) and he created Mettaton (well, he created a way for ghosts to permanently occupy robot bodies), which was also a thing.

                That said, I can’t really hate Gaster even though the fandom makes it really easy. I mean, he erased Gaster, that’s admirable.

              2. Mini-Farla says:
                Wait, do we actually know he erased himself? From what I remember, the followers just say he was erased, with no mention of the cause.
              3. illhousen says:
                Seems to be a botched experiment judging by the entries, which is fairly plausible. There is so little info, though, that you may, say, blame Flowey for it if you want. Or anything else, really.
              4. Gust says:
                Alphys pushed him because he liked Kissy Mew Mew 2.
                2
      2. illhousen says:
        Interesting link, thanks.

        The theory seems plausible. Certainly, a lot of MCs in other fandoms serve as a host for fanfic writers, so I can see them projecting their issues along with power ups onto their favorite doll.

    2. Farla says:
      My bitter theory is it’s a combination of being a great way to erase them from the narrative in favor of other characters (be it Chara devouring all their character for themself or Sans using them as a prop) while getting cookies for being so aware and supportive of whatever particular issue is the reason.

      Oh, and partial muteness…I mean, it’s a thing, but usually it’s a thing where the character can talk in one context and not in another, and is wholly capable of being a complete chatterbox in the right one, which I don’t see here.

  5. Socordya says:
    Here you are. Let’s keep it off other threads now. Does disqus allow subscribe/unsubscribe? Ugh, we really need to get rid of disqus.

    You’re just mad you haven’t played it;)
    Give in, Act. If only you knew the power of the under side!

    1. illhousen says:
      Indeed. We don’t have chocolate but we do have pies.
    2. actonthat says:
      I literally dreampt about Undertale last night because of all the comment emails.
      1. illhousen says:
        Yes. Because of the emails. Certainly. There is no other reason. Most certainly, we do not send dreams to people that would lead them to become one of us. That would be silly.
      2. Roarke says:
        I’d give you my Steam info so you could play it, but the cloud keeps a record of all my sordid misdeeds in that game, which would ruin your enjoyment of it, to say the least.
        1. actonthat says:
          The problem is that it’s so big and everyone loves it so much I want to avoid it. Not because I think everyone is lying, but because I hate having that kind of pressure going into a book/game/whatever.

          Also I hate everything and if I don’t like it, I’ll feel both stupid and like an asshole. The risk outweighs the reward.

          1. illhousen says:
            You know yourself better than we do. Much as I’d like to hear your thoughts on Undertale, in the end it’s just a game and there is always more stuff to talk about that doesn’t put you under pressure.

            Hope we don’t bother you too much with our discussions and digressions. Now at least they shouldn’t bleed into other posts so much. Feel free to tell us if there are any other problems we can fix.

          2. Roarke says:
            Yeah, that’s understandable. And I’m already shoving like 10 games onto your plate so I’m fine with you missing this.
      3. SpoonyViking says:
        …Times like these make me SO happy I’m not a mod. :-P
  6. illhousen says:
    On another note. What’s the deal with Uncommon Time, specifically? I’ve tried to play it but the fights are booooring and there isn’t any obvious batshittery right away, so I’m not sure whether I’d continue. Still, I’m curious about its relationship with Chara.
    1. Mini-Farla says:
      Yeah, it’s not something to be played, the gameplay is terrible. Watch a YouTube LP: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IfHFduCeq6g&list=PLClHdc5619etE6koUCxksmA2pvEJhkxuU&index=1&nohtml5=False

      The connection to Chara isn’t obvious unless you also know Feralphoenix’s very specific interpretation of Chara, which is basically identical to the protagonist of Uncommon Time.

      1. illhousen says:
        Thanks, I may check it out later.
      2. Appaloosa says:
        It’s been a while, but have you ever given the Duet mod for Uncommon Time a whirl? It’s a really cathartic experience, a lot like that one fic on AOOOOOOO, in that it explores a fairly short, alternate ending, but it’s amazing and redemptive. I really recommend it.
        1
  7. Socordya says:
    There’s something bugging me.
    At he end of the Genocide Route, when Frisk meets Asgore, he says he can’t tell what kind of monster they are. Since he had no problem identifying Frisk as a human being in the other routes, it seems we are supposed to read this as meaning Frisk has become so evil they seems inhuman. But “human” being synonymous with “good” and “monstrous” being synonymous with “bad” doesn’t make sense in the context of the game’s universe, especially from Asgore’s POV! Am I missing something?
    1. illhousen says:
      Well, on a meta-level it is about the loss of your humanity, I’m afraid. Doesn’t make much sense in the context, though the metaphor is something that would be understood by the audience, so I guess the context was sacrificed for the sake of pretty rhetoric in this case.

      In-universe, well, Chara is a demon of the “personification of your sins” type or close enough, so that may be visible. If your only frame of reference are humans and monsters, I guess it makes sense to not think of them as a human.

  8. Gust says:
    “It’s a metaphor, see: You put the knife right in your hand, but you don’t give it the power to do its stabbings.”

    On a more serious note, apparently Bravely Second also did the thing where it calls the player out for JRPG stuff and gets all meta on the player. That could be fun for someone to do a comparison of or something. At the very least, it’ll be interesting. But I’d feel bad to put someone through that again. I could probably give it a look when I fix my 3DS troubles. But I haven’t played the first one. And I’d have to drag myself away from Binding of Isaac first.

  9. So since we’re apparently using these things as fanfic advertisement boards, here’s mine: Do No Harm

    This is going to require some explanation: It’s based on the Underfell AU, which is basically that all the monsters are actually evil but Flowey is good. It’s mainly just an excuse to draw the skelebros in evil outfits and write a lot of torture porn; last I checked no other stories have made it past Waterfall. This was my attempt to make a full, coherent narrative out of it while also calling out all the things I disliked about it. Unfortunately, it took me over a year to finish, so I think it got drowned out in the ocean of skelebros oneshots and nobody really noticed. Don’t make the same mistake as me, kids! Stick to simple stuff for spitefics!

  10. Indiscretion says:
    Deltarune’s out, for those who have not heard!

    https://www.deltarune.com/

    1
    1. CrazyEd says:

      I know so little about Undertale I don’t even know why I should’ve heard about whatever this is.

      I am a god of the internet.

    2. illhousen says:

      So, I’ve played it. It’s quite fun and surprisingly meaty for what amounts to a demo. Like, you have an entire conflict with climax and resolution and shit, which is nice. The AU aspect is funny in the context of the Undertale fandom.

      1. Heatth says:

        Yeah, it is kinda surprising how complete it feels. If Toby haven’t gone and said it was a demo I could have belived it was just a short special or something.

        It is a good thing it is that way, at any rate, as apparently the production of the full version haven’t even begin yet.

    3. I played it, it is lovely. It feels like it’s rather pointedly addressing the criticisms leveled at Undertale — a more cynical narrative, and more typical RPG gameplay with multiple party members and abilities. I like that Toby’s outright said it’s going to be a different thing entirely — as much as I enjoyed Undertale, there wouldn’t be much point in retreading the same ground. The “your choices don’t matter” thing is a little disappointing, but I’m interested to see where it’s going with all this.

      The one thing is that I feel it’s a bit too silly — Undertale got extremely serious right from the opening and overall maintained a dark undercurrent even under its whimsical tone, but Deltarune feels like it lacks that depth. Susie and Ralsei’s constant presence as silly kids makes everything feel lighter. I also felt there was a lack of women (and no Alphyne!!! ;_;), but that could change.

      also how do you dodge Jevil’s carousel attack, WTH is that even

      1. illhousen says:

        I like that Toby’s outright said it’s going to be a different thing entirely — as much as I enjoyed Undertale, there wouldn’t be much point in retreading the same ground.

        I find it funny how fans immediately went “Gaster reference!” “Sans definitely remembers Undertale events!” “Kris is Chara!” “No, Chara is the narrator once again!” “But not the intro narrator, that’s Gaster!” and so on.

        The one thing is that I feel it’s a bit too silly

        Yeah, I agree with this. The dark world is, ironically, massively lighter in tone than pretty much any part of Undertale. It kinda lacks the gravitas.

        Now, I can see how it could be utilized in the finalized game, as a direct contrast to whatever’s going on with Kris at the end and such, but, well, time will tell how that will turn out.

        1. It would be hilarious if Gaster is totally irrelevant and the references are once again just there to troll people.

          If Sans is important I will be disappoint and will only forgive it if you can hook up Undyne and Alphys >_>

        2. Heatth says:

          Now, I can see how it could be utilized in the finalized game, as a direct contrast to whatever’s going on with Kris at the end and such

          Yeah, I think this is where he is going for. The tone is sillier, but there is a creepy undertone, even before the ending. The “character creation”.  Kris having shadows in their face, unlike Frisk.  The introduction to the dark world is much more unsettling than the introdution to the underground. Overal the scenary is creepier as well. And in the “epilogue” you have all the mentions about something being wrong with Kris, before the knife scene. Not to mention that, for Undertale fans, seeing so many familiar faces in a slightly, but not completely, different context is a bit off putting.

          I think it is clear there is something going on underneeth all the silliness. It is not just roses.

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