The final and most important villain of Undetale is you, the player. But that’s your choice. Oh hey, did I mention that you absolutely shouldn’t be reading these if you haven’t played? Go. Do it. It’s great. I laughed, I cried, I maybe possibly perhaps swore a ton at Sans…good times.
Anyway, YOU. You have to take responsibility for your actions. Some players like to blame Chara for their doing the genocide run. But that’s ridiculous. Chara is barely a person and more a concept. You are the one who chose to let that into your heart. You’re the one who decided to kill Papyrus when he reached out to you in love. To kill the heroine of the story. To shatter Mettaton’s dreams. To bring the final slap in the face to Sans. Those were all your choice. You could have stopped at any moment and you didn’t.
But your villainy isn’t even just about genocide. No. If you complete pacifist run, and then keep playing over and over, never letting the denizens rest…you’re the one getting in the way of their happiness so you can enjoy the game again. Sure, that’s what many games are for. It’s like reading a book again. But Flowey warns you at the end of Pacifist that you’re the only one who can get in the way of everyone’s happy ending.
I guess what it means is that Undertale is setting itself apart from other games. It’s not just here for your entertainment; it’s here to make you think about the “Others” that you just kill. That yes, everyone you encounter is a monster – many are monsters that you’d see in other games and kill without a thought. Papyrus and Sans are skeletons – is there a game where you kill monsters where some of those monsters aren’t skeletons? (don’t answer that. The true answer is irrelevant.) I mean, in Kingdom of Loathing, there’s a skeleton’s monster description that amounts up to OH BOY SKELETONS YOU LOVE KILLING SKELETONS IN GAMES best part. It uses most of those words in just not quite that order.
But Papyrus and Sans are people. And yet, even if you get that and enjoy their characters, and then play again…are you truly recognizing them as people or just characters? The fact that they are, in fact, fictional is somewhat less important. They’re well fleshed out. You can still afford full personhood respect for a fictional character. Armies of fanboys and girls prove that much. So do you respect the characters enough to make your interference and leave them alone? Or are they your playthings, forever, and ever, to force them to live the same life again and again for your own amusement? Maybe you’re like me. Maybe you have a mindset where playing the game again doesn’t make everyone relive it, it’s just a memory reflection, a piece of time you’re looking at…but Undertale makes it abundantly clear that isn’t the case for these characters.
So in the end, you’re the villain if you can’t let them just…live.
And then there’s genocide. I did genocide because I wanted to kill everyone because I’m not a good person. It wasn’t curiosity to see what happened, my brand of completionism is more based on getting all the achievements or collections of whatever, not seeing every possible dialog or ending. I just…wanted to kill everyone. I don’t think I could explain it to you if you don’t also have a mote of evil in your soul.
I also purged Chara from the system because while my sins will remain with me always, I’m not so evil to force the rest of Undertale to live with them. It’s not fair to them. It’s true, in reality, if I decided to just start killing people, I couldn’t just…erase that, not let the people affected choose not to live with my decisions. But Undertale is a story, and I am a storyteller, and I’m far too used to having the story, ultimately, go the way I want it to to not do so now.
But I’m still a monster. I still killed everyone, even Papyrus.
Is it proper to say the player is a monster? In a world where there are monsters, and they’re people, not evil, is that proper?
Yes. Monster has always had two meanings to me. See, there are creatures that are of a “monster” class – and then there are things that are meant to terrify and hurt you. The first usually come from a creature that has frequently been in the second until it just becomes known as a monster, regardless of whether or not it’s actually a monster, or if it’s Sans and Papyrus.
But ultimately, what a monster is supposed to be is a creature that is horrifying and wants to hurt you. That’s what we mean by monsters. That’s why we call adults who hurt children in any way a monster. Maybe all the creatures in Undertale are a class of monster, but in the end, you are the real monster.
Frankly, I think the people who do it just to see, like Flowey, are worse than I am. Would you really kill someone just because that’s an option, out of curiosity to see what would happen? But that’s literally what you’re doing in a completionist-driven genocide mode. You met everyone, you found out what great guys they are, and then you chose to kill them just to see? Me, it’s just the twisted part of me.
And I’m addicted to telling tragedy in my stories, so…yeah, my fingers itch a bit around fictional characters. It’s not an unusual trait for a writer.
Just always take care in deciding to kill – with games like these that make you think, you might discover that you are a monster – that you are the villain.