Emotional Impact in Undertale

Two criteria I believe to be important when discussing Undertale are the depth of complex characters and the games emotional impact on the player. When speaking about the complexity of characters, I will focus on how well the characters come off as people you should care for instead of useless NPCs . When speaking about the utilization of emotion, I will focus on how well the game is able to get the players actions to be caused by emotion.

Undertale does an excellent job of getting its player to think deeply and emotionally about the choices they make. This is accomplished through the characters ability to choose whether they kill or spare enemies they come into contact with. The utilization of choice helps amplify the players feelings because they know that the end they reach is entirely their fault.  If the player chooses to kill plenty of monsters, the music in the game becomes slower and lower-pitched, while the player is forced to witness the pain and suffering they have brought to the underground society where the monsters are trapped. If the player chooses to spare everyone, they get to watch as their friends finally gain freedom and the ability to pursue their dreams. Undertale also does an excellent job of giving its NPCs depth and getting the player to actually care about their well-being. Toriel, the tutorial character, is a lonely woman who has had to watch as many of the children she tries to raise are killed. Though she tries to kill you, the player knows that it is only because she does not want you to reach a worse fate outside the walls. Another character, Papyrus, is a lonely guard who wants nothing more than friends who love and respect him. So one cannot blame him for trying to capture the main character, since he believes that by doing so he will finally obtain friends who love him. Anyone who plays the game will find at least one character they relate to, and most will relate to the monsters’ common goal of obtaining freedom so that they may finally live their dreams.

In contrast to Undertale, the Stanley Parable does not have as heavy of an emotional impact on the character. For all of the playthroughs I did of The Stanley Parable, the only victim in each case was Stanley, the character played by the user. Because the choices I decided to make were not visibly affecting anyone around me, there was no sense of guilt to stop me from repeatedly playing the game and trying something new each time. The only one besides Stanley, who as the protagonist I viewed as myself, that may have been affected was the narrator. And I could neither see him, nor did he seem to be very fond of me, so he had little impact on my choices after the first playthrough. In contrast, every character I met in Undertale had a huge impact on whether I decided to spare people or not. Also, unlike in The Stanley Parable, I was not able to bring myself to play Undertale again after getting the Pacifist Ending, because I did not want to take away my friends’ happiness. I am able to appreciate the difference because Undertale is a feel-good game that I will only play once, but always remember, while Stanley Parable is a game I am not afraid to go back to once the details of it become hazy.


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