Video Games Weekly: Undertale
This week’s video game, Undertale, is once again a PC game that teens (especially teen girls) love, but circulating library collections may not be able to purchase because it is a digital download only. My teens requested an Undertale themed library program, and it attracted a more diverse crowd of teens compared to my usual programs! Next week, I’ll write a Teen Program in a Box post for Undertale.
Rated: No official ESRB rating. I personally would give it a T because there is fighting / genocide themes, but nothing gory.
Single or Multiplayer: Single
Storyline: The game begins with the universe’s history. A long time ago, humans were at war with monsters, and the monsters were banished underground. The monsters couldn’t escape because a magical seal only allows certain types of souls to get through. Many years later, a human, which the player gets to name and control, manages to somehow fall through this barrier. The human wakes up and meets Toriel, a maternal goat-like figure who protects humans who have fallen through the barrier (no spoilers about why she has to protect them…). Eventually, the human leaves Toriel in order to explore the underground world.
Controls: The controls are old school keyboard controls. You use the arrow keys to move around, “Z” to select things, “X” to cancel, and “C” for menu. That’s it!
Gameplay: Players will encounter monsters that are mean, shy, like to tell jokes, and more quirky personality traits. Some are random spawns, while others are well fleshed out characters that are significant to the plot. There are multiple options when interacting with a monster. Whenever players select an option, you play different mini games that in essence protect their “soul” which is in the shape of an 8-bit heart.
Undertale is at its core a “choose your own adventure” game with three distinct story routes: pacifist, neutral, and genocide. The game purposefully does not tell you that there are alternate routes until the very end, but my teens insisted that I should play through the neutral route the first time. The game is meant to be played over and over again, and your actions will have consequences that carry over into the next game.
Neutral Route: The neutral route is the route where players do not kill many monsters, and tend to choose the nice options. You can kill one monster and it’ll be fine. Players have to unlock the neutral route first before they can unlock alternate endings.
Pacifist Route: The pacifist route is by far the most annoying. When you meet a monster, you have to pick the “nice” option MANY times in order to do some good. Sure, you can flee from monsters, but you don’t get any coins by taking the easy route. Coins are important in this game because you can buy silly items like a Cinnamon Bunny that give you life, so it’s in your best interest to be friendly to monsters. Players who complete the neutral storyline first, then play the pacific route a second time will get a “happy” ending, basically the one that everyone wants.
Genocide Route: The genocide route is pretty self-explanatory…you kill every monster. Now, it’s important to note that this is the “easiest” route in the game in terms of gameplay. It’s a lot easier to kill a monster because you only have to play through one mini game, instead of doing it multiple times like in the neutral/pacific route. However, the ending is incredibly heart wrenching, incredibly dark, and dramatic (and personally my favorite ending).
Audience: This game is unexpectedly appealing to my teen girl gamers. I think it’s because there are female-ish (remember, Toriel is a maternal goat-like monster) characters that are fleshed out, not sex objects. I also believe it’s attractive to teens because the moral of Undertale is “Actions Have Consequences”. I believe teens really start to embrace this idea because they’re old enough to have experienced their own version of “actions have consequences”. Finally, a teen told me that she loves the game because it teaches you that “it’s more difficult to choose love, but in the end, it will always pay off.”
Questions? Comments? Tweet them at me!
By: Alanna Graves
Pricing: $10 on Steam http://undertale.com/
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
SLJ Blog Network